Yoga Poses to Beat Belly Bloat
After the holiday season, it’s not unusual to feel a bit bloated and uncomfortable. From eating too many carbohydrate rich cookies, to drinking too much champagne, we put a lot of pressure on our tummies from November to January 1st. But even in the New Year as we start to eat a cleaner diet, drinking liquids too quickly, ingesting sugar free foods, eating too many dairy products and even eating too much fiber can all lead to bloating. In addition to eating lean proteins, chewing slowly, steering clear of sugar substitutes and limiting dairy and carbohydrates (if you have an intolerance to either), you can incorporate these yoga postures to help with discomfort and alleviate some of the bloat.
Cat/Cow–Cat/Cow stretch is a great way to stretch the abdominal region and aid in digestion. The movement back and forth helps release tension in the head, neck and shoulders as well which can get uptight when our stomachs are in discomfort. Start on all fours and on an inhalation lift your head and tail as you let your mid section stretch open. On and exhalation pull the belly in and round the back. Exhale all of the air out and see if that helps expel more air and pressure in the tummy. Continue arching and rounding for 5 to 8 cycles.
Knee to Nose and Leg Extension–From a rounded cat position draw your right leg up to your nose on an inhale. On an exhale, extend the leg straight back and lengthen from head to toe. Repeat 5 times then switch sides. Moving the legs fires up digestion and stimulates the metabolism. Bringing the knee in and out massages the internal organs and helps eliminate that bloated feeling.
Cobra–It may seem counterintuitive to lie on your tummy when it’s distended; but cobra is actually a great way to stretch the front body and put just enough pressure on the abdominal region to expel excess air. Cobra also opens up our lungs and chest which helps us take deeper breaths. When we swallow air, it leads to bloating, full breaths help us get rid of the tension and distension. Lie down on your belly and place your hands shoulder width apart near your chest. Press in to the hands and lift the chest high enough to open the heart and breathe deep full breaths. Stay for 5 to 8 breaths. lower down and repeat 2 more times.
Seated Spinal Twist–Twists are one of the best ways to aid in digestion and alleviate bloating and discomfort in the belly. Sit tall cross your left leg under your bent right knee, placing the right foot outside the left thigh. Wrap your left arm around your right knee and twist to the right. Try not to muscle it with your arms; but use your abdominals to initiate the twist. Hold for 5 breaths then switch to the left side.
After completing this sequence of poses, notice how much better you feel and hopefully much less bloated. The best thing about yoga is it teaches us to be mindful and listen to our bodies. In the future you’ll be more aware of what causes your tummy to get bloated and steer clear of the culprits so you can have a comfortable, happy, healthy bloat free New Year!
Kristin McGee is a celebrity yoga and Pilates instructor in New York City. She is the star of over 100 videos, a contributing editor at Health Magazine and a spokeswoman for many brands and causes she believes in. Kristin also appears frequently on television. A proud mom to three, she sure keeps herself busy!