The Best After-Dinner Stretches for Thanksgiving Day

By , SparkPeople Blogger
After a large meal, such as Thanksgiving dinner, I like to take a short walk to jump-start digestion. If I've overindulged and feel a bit blah in the belly, I add in a few quick stretches to get the digestive juices flowing.

Today I'm sharing two of my favorites.
While I usually wouldn't advocate practicing yoga on a full stomach, this is one time I break that rule, for these specific, beneficial poses.

"Wind-Relief" Pose
About the pose:
Yes, this pose does exactly what you think it does. It helps relieve gas and bloating because, by bringing the right knee into the chest, we apply pressure on the ascending colon, which helps aid digestion. Make sure you're doing this with only the right knee in. If you bring in the left leg, it applies pressure to the descending colon, making it harder for digestion to occur.

(However, if you feel more comfortable lying down after a big meal, lie on your left side to facilitate digestion, as you want food to more easily reach the descending colon.)

How to:
(See above photo) Lie on your back and bring your right knee in toward your chest, hugging your arms around your right shin.

How long:
2-3 minutes, or until you feel like moving again
Seated spinal twist
About the pose:
Twisting wrings out the old blood from our organs, stimulating fresh blood flow. It also helps get digestive juices flowing and gets the food moving on through! Twisting to the left, for the reasons mentioned above, can be helpful after a big meal.  (You will also want to twist to the right to balance out the pose. It won't do any harm, but the left-side twists are more beneficial.)

How to:
Sit up tall in a chair (not resting on the back of the chair). As you exhale, twist gently to the left, taking your right hand to your left knee for support.
Keep the spine as upright as possible; don't tip forward or backward.

How long:
5 breaths or so, then switch sides

Bonus "pose": Lie on your left side in a fetal position.
While this isn't really a yoga pose, you might find it helpful to lie on your left side with your knees slightly in toward your chest after a big meal if you feel really awful. This will facilitate digestion and allow you to rest. Whether you lie down for 30 seconds or 30 minutes is up to you, but if a post-Thanksgiving nap is part of your holiday tradition, lie on your left side to ease digestion.

It's easy to overeat, and we've all felt terrible after a full meal. Remind yourself that this is just one meal, just one day, and you'll feel better soon. That bloated belly feeling will pass, and maybe next time you'll skip that third slice of pie. (I've been guilty of that one!)

Remember: It takes 20 minutes for your brain to realize that you're full, so slow down and spend some time talking to your loved ones between bites!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

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