A Yogi Reveals The 5 Best Poses To Do When You're Too Full To Move After Thanksgiving

by Julia Guerra

Yoga is my answer to everything these days. The moment I start to feel even the slightest twinge of PMS, for example, I’ll take a child’s pose to chill TF out. Or, if I can’t sleep, I’ll rock out any lingering energies in happy baby pose. With Thanksgiving drawing near, I know for a fact there’s going to be a whole lot of indulging going on, meaning I’m also expecting a full-term food baby on Friday, Nov. 23. Naturally, I’ll just have to rely on the best yoga poses for a stomach ache to stretch out any discomfort and stimulate digestion, seeing as how the last thing I’m going want to do is waddle to the gym with gassy bloating weighing me down.

While you may not go into Thanksgiving dinner with the intention of over-indulging in sweet potato casserole, your auntie’s homemade apple pie, and a glass (or three) of apple cider sangria, it still happens. The holiday season only comes around once a year, though, so there's absolutely no shame in sampling all the foods among the feast that look particularly scrumptious to your taste buds. Just keep in mind that, oftentimes, especially around these kinds of celebratory buffets, your eyes can grow bigger than your stomach can expand, which means the more you eat, the fuller you’ll feel post-feast.

But if it just so happens that, come Black Friday, you wake up with a stomach ache, go easy on yourself mentally, as well as physically. Take a break from the intense cardio sessions you’ve been doing, and don’t even think about stepping into a piping hot yoga studio. “You can easily get sick [from these types of workouts on a full stomach],” says Beth Shaw, CEO and founder of YogaFit. The best thing you can do to aid digestion, she tells Elite Daily, is to go for a walk and follow up with some light yoga.

"Neither your exercise nor your digestion will be optimized when you try and do a heavy workout on a full stomach," Shaw explains, comparing the concept to driving a car up a steep hill with an empty gas tank. "Gentle and restorative yoga is the way to go without a doubt," she says, because your body is already working hard to digest all the food you've eaten the day before.

Yoga poses, like the ones listed below, can help your digestive system do its thing.

Bridge Pose Will Give Your Digestive System Space To Perform

This pose is literally the exact opposite of London Bridge Is Falling Down. Think of it this way: When your stomach is collapsed, or hunched over when you're shoveling food into your mouth, your muscles are crunched, making it harder for your digestive system to do its thing. In order for your insides to process all of the delicious holiday delicacies you've enjoyed, they need enough room to do so. Bridge pose, Shaw says, allows your belly to expand and take up space.

To get into bridge pose from a lying-down position, Shaw explains, you want to first bend your knees with your feet flat on the floor. From there, lift your hips and keep your hands at the sides of your body. "Breathe deeply into the belly; expand it for 10 to 20 deep breaths," she explains. "Bring knees back into chest, release the lower back, and repeat this bridge pose three times with knees-to-chest in between."

A Spinal Twist Will Get Things Moving
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Spinal twists are one of my absolute favorite yoga poses, as they're especially yummy when you're feeling a little gassy and need some assistance to get things moving in your tummy, if you know what I mean (ahem, farting). Switching from left to right, and back again, Shaw says a lying twist helps to massage the internal organs and (bonus!) wring out any lower back pain.

Spinal twists are also one of the easiest yoga poses there are, BTW. All you have to do, Shaw explains, is lie on your back, bring your right knee to your chest, and gently pull it over to left side of your body. "Hold for five to 10 deep breaths," she says, and then repeat on the left side.

A Seated Upright Spinal Twist Will Release Some Tension

Lying spinal twists can help to aid your digestion, but if you really want to speed up the process, add some upright spinal twists into your practice. Seated spinal twists, Shaw tells Elite Daily, can also offer a deep cleanse for the internal organs, and stimulate digestion when your stomach is full, but your body just can't seem to release any of the tension.

To secure the posture from a seated position, bend your right knee over your left leg — which should be bent on the floor in a kind of half-pretzel stance — and place your right foot on the floor. Wrap your left arm around your right leg, and look over your right shoulder, Shaw explains. As far as your breathing goes, get into a pattern of inhaling to lift a little higher, and exhaling to twist a little deeper. You should take 10 deep breaths for maximum cleansing, Shaw recommends, and then repeat the pose on the opposite side.

Knees-To-Chest Will Loosen Built-Up Gas
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As someone who deals with IBS frequently, I can vouch that belly bloat and discomfort from gas bubbling in your stomach is probably one of the worst feelings ever. You could roll around on your stomach to pop the bubbles (I've used this method probably more times than I'm willing to admit), or, Shaw suggests, you can perform a sequence of knee-to-chest poses, switching from one leg to the next.

Another simple pose to try in your home practice: Lie on your back, feet long in front of you, and deeply bend your right knee in toward your chest. Hold for five to 10 deep breaths, Shaw tells Elite Daily, and remember to breathe into the lower back (aka breathe with your diaphragm, not your throat). Keep your left leg extended through the pose, and when you're ready, switch legs and repeat on the other side.

Happy Baby Pose Gives Your Belly Space To Digest Comfortably
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Again, happy baby is my go-to pose for when I have any kind of built-up energy and need a quick cool-down. Evidently, according to Shaw, happy baby is not only great for relaxation, it's also a key yoga pose for better digestion. Plus, it literally makes you feel like a kid again, so no judgment if you decide you want to dedicate an entire session to just chillin' in happy baby.

To begin, lie on your back and bring your knees to your chest to get your bearings. From there, grasp your feet in the palms of your hands, and gently pull your knees to either your shoulders or the floor on either side of your body, Shaw explains. The key is to keep your lower back glued to the floor, in order to "stretch the hip flexors and low back," she says, "and give space to the belly."