I can almost feel it now. The tight belly, the uncomfortable rumbling in the stomach, and the fight to stay awake and connected.
Why is it that these feelings are so often associated with the holidays?
Unfortunately feelings of guilt and disgust at ourselves can also follow suit, making the holidays even more stressful. But it doesn't have to play out like that.
Instead, we should allow ourselves to enjoy this time of year. Even when traditions permeate into our everyday lives, and we tend to indulge as we celebrate the season.
It's okay, really. As long as we use some tools to ensure that we continue to have digestive health, we will be able to fully enjoy these traditions with our loved ones. Minus that guilt that spreads like a wave into the New Year.
I know you want those quick and easy tips! Here ya go:
1. Spice, Spice, and more Spice!
Use those warming spices like there's no tomorrow. Cinnamon and nutmeg in baked squashes, cardamom in your mashed potatoes, and allspice and clove into your desserts. And don't forget the ginger! Focus on those warming herbs that will stimulate the agni, or fire in the belly. Not only do they taste delicious, but they will help you break down your meals more efficiently, reducing that full bloated feeling and increasing circulation on chilly days. Here's a yummy recipe from the renowned herbalist Leslie Tierra for an easy remedy for the post-meal belly.
Fennel Candy is a regular after-dinner treat to aid digestion.
2. Twist it out
Nothing get the digestion flowing like gentle twists. When your belly feels tight and you feel like laying down on the couch to pass out, try this instead. If your family looks at you like you're crazy, pull them down to the floor and make them do it too.
Reclined Twist: Jathara Parivartanasana
Start by lying down on your back. Slowly take an inhale and extend both arms over your head. As you exhale, curl into both knees, hugging them into you. This will compress the stomach and the liver just enough to initiate the release of those good digestive juices.
Let your head and shoulder rest on the ground, arms out wide out to the side, palms facing up. Take a nice deep breath in, and as you exhale, slowly lower your bent knees over to the right, to or towards the ground. This twisting through the organs will stimulate the breakdown and assimilation of your holiday meal. Hold for 2-3 breaths, and repeat on the other side. Do this 3-5 times.
For a more thorough post-meal sequence, go here.
3. Don't forget the Bitters!
As a culture, we have almost completely eliminated this flavor from our cuisine (a big exception is coffee). You know how coffee really gets the digestion moving? Other bitter flavors do the same thing! Before your holiday meal, sip a tasty bitter beverage. Those bitter taste receptors will stimulate the production of gastric acid, and prime the stomach for food. Try some of these drinks before or after dinner to help avoid food stagnation:
Chicory, Dandelion, or Chamomile Tea
Beer (especially those really hoppy ones)
Hot Cocoa, made from unsweetened cocoa
If you want a 1 oz. bottle-sized solution, go here.
4. Last but not least, make sure you slow down and have some gratitude for all the bounty, all the love, and all the joy that is the miracle of you. Here's a great video to get you started:
Sending so much gratitude to you!
I am constantly amazed by the healing power of yoga and herbs. They inspire me to heal, to write, to teach, and to keep exploring.