Yoga may not be the first thing you want to do when you wake up on New Year's Day, but it might just be the hangover helper you never knew you always needed.
Even if you didn't overindulge in champagne last night, you're probably feeling sloggish from the past few weeks of holiday parties, or even just being off work. And according to James Dylan, the founder of Akasha Yoga Montreal, performing a few simple yoga moves can help speed up the body's processing of alcohol from the night before.
"The sequence works best when accompanied with drinking plenty of water and when it’s followed by a hearty breakfast," he explains. "Even if you're lying around watching movies all day, you still want to feel good."
If you don't have yoga equipment at home, Dylan suggests blankets, pillows and towels — and emphasizes that if at any point you feel acute pain, stop the pose.
So let's stop putting it off and get on with it!
"Child’s Pose has a calming effect, while at the same time it stimulates the body's natural ability to remove toxins by increasing the flow of blood though the limbs and head and causing a soft abdominal compression," explains James Dylan, the founder of Akasha Yoga Montreal.
Keep the knees open to make the forward fold easier.
Rolling your forehead around on a block or the floor can be extra soothing.
Spend as long as you like here, transitioning to the next pose when you feel ready.
"The gentle movement of Cat/Cow will amplify the detoxification process started in Child’s Pose by activating the cardiovascular system and increasing the blood flow through out the whole body."
From Child’s Pose, rise onto your hands and knees, make sure your shoulders are over the wrists and hips over the knees. Cat/Cow consists of a cycle of two movements:
1. On the inhale, lift your hips, shoulders, neck and head, arching the back
2. On the exhale, round the back and tuck the chin into the chest
Repeat the cycle of Cat/Cow three to five times.
"In Bound Angle, the blood flow is directed towards the abdomen and organs. It also provides a nice opening for the hips, releasing possible tension and stiffness from the night before."
From Cat/Cow, move into a sitting posture. Then, bring the bottoms of the feet together and open the keens. (Sit on a block, blanket or pillow for comfort.)
Hold for one to two minutes.
"This Sitting Twist calmly engages the digestive system and stimulates the organs, including the liver. Much like wringing out water from a wet towel, this twist secretes the the toxins out of your organs and aids speeding along the detoxification process."
From Bound Angle, straighten both legs forward. Bend the right knee and place the foot on the floor close to the sitting bone.
Take the right hand to the floor behind the back. Wrap the left elbow around the right knee and gently twist.
Repeat on opposite side.
Hold for five to eight breaths on each side.
"Boat Pose has a similar effect as Bound Angel and Sitting Twists, but perhaps a little stronger, as it strengthens the abdomen while flushing blood down though the organs," says Dylan. "This one is more intense, and should only be done if you're feeling a little better."
Bend both knees and place the feet on the floor. Hold the back of the thighs. Lift the heals in line with the knees.
Hold for three to five breaths.
"Savasana is a restorative pose that can help create a state deep of relaxation where the body can incorporate the benefits from the work that’s just been done," says Dylan. "When followed by the other postures, Savasana aids to detoxify and recover from that hangover."
Lay down on your back with arms and legs at a comfortable distance from the body. Place folded blankets under the knees. You can cover the chest and hips with a blanket to created a more nurturing healing effect.
Hold for five to 10 minutes (or really, until whenever you wake up).