Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I usually spend it at my parents’ house with close friends and family. It’s always an honor to assist my mother, who is my great culinary teacher, in making wonderful amounts of classic fare, including decadent mashed potatoes, incredible stuffing, caramelized brussels sprouts, a perfectly roasted turkey, and elaborate pies and cakes. It’s a splendid day of indulgence!
Here are two yoga poses that always help me on this welcomed day of hearty feasting. In fact, they are the only two postures recommended to assume after a meal. Others should be avoided!
The postures are:
Vajrasana, or Thunderbolt pose and Virasana, or Hero’s pose
Unless you have severe knee or leg problems, both are easily assumed. If it’s customary to sit on the floor while hanging out after dinner, you can easily sneak in vajrasana!
Here’s more about each posture:
1. Vajrasana (The Sanskrit word vajra means thunderbolt.)
In addition to being a great meditative seat that can be practiced at any time, this posture is beneficial for digestion and minor low-back pain. Additionally, it provides a nice stretch for the front of the shins and quadriceps.
Sit on the shins with the big toes touching and the heels slightly apart. Let the seat rest on the heel, keeping the inner thighs together.
If having the thighs together creates discomfort, separate them slightly. Another way to avoid discomfort is by putting a pillow between the shins and seat.
Vajrasana encourages a tall spine, allowing plenty of room for the belly to expand comfortably with each breath. As you can imagine, this allows the digestive organs to be optimally aligned, boosting their ability to function. Maintain a tall spine, being sure to not over arch.
Try to stay for at least five minutes, breathing deeply.
2. Virasana (The Sanskrit work vira means hero)
The digestive benefits of virasana match those of vajrasana. The major difference between the two postures is that in virasana the seat rests on the floor between the heels, as opposed to on them. As Hero’s pose requires greater mobility of the ankles and knees, I recommend starting with vajrasana.
To practice: Kneel on the floor with the knees together and feet about 18 inches apart. Gently lower the seat down between the heels. Adjust the feet so they’re in line with the shins. Rest the hands on the thighs, sit up tall without over arching, and breathe deeply.
Sophie Herbert is an alignment focused yoga teacher (and perpetual student), a singer-songwriter, and a visual artist. She has lived, studied, and volunteered extensively in India; teaches yoga in Brooklyn and Manhattan; and recently released her first full-length album, "Take a Clear Look." Please visit her website at SophieHerbert.com.