Thanksgiving is a time for getting together with family and friends and sharing a meal, giving thanks for the abundance in our lives. It is also a day that, in my opinion, gets a little too gluttonous with the food factor. More often than not we go a little overboard with the meals much to the point of food coma, and in some cases a few extra pounds. Here is where practicing Yoga comes in handy! Practicing Yoga not only works the physical body but the mind and internal organs as well, a 3 for 1 deal!
Here are 8 great Yoga poses to do to help minimize the fat and wring out the organs Thanksgiving seems to alluringly invite! The following poses are helpful for stimulating the abdominal organs and the digestive process.
The first pose is Utthita Trikonasana or Extended Triangle pose. It is also good for the muscles of the legs- the thighs, knees, calves, ankles. Make sure both legs are straight in this pose. You can take your lowered arm to your ankle or a block.
The next pose is Utthita Parsvakonasana or Extended Lateral Side Angle pose. This is, in my opinion, a strenuous pose. Whenever I'm feeling like those 'love handles' are getting out of control I practice this pose. Take care to try to lay the side body onto the thigh of the bent leg. Turning the chest up towards the ceiling will make it easier to do so.
The third pose is Parivrtta Trikonasana or Revolved Triangle. This pose stretches the hips and spine. It also opens the chest. A difficult pose, if you are not able to cross your opposite arm over the front leg you can take the arm to your ankle instead or a block on the toe side of the foot. Work on an extension of the torso.
Ok, last standing pose! Parivrtta Parsvakonasana or Revolved Side Angle pose. This time the opposite side of the body should attempt to lay on the thighs of the bent leg. You can take a block to the opposite lowered hand if you are not able to take it to the floor. Here's a hint, twist first then work on taking the lowered arm to the floor.
Standing poses are a good way to get the blood pumping and when done properly maybe even some perspiration going! One does not necessarily need to sweat in order to 'work the body'.
The next pose is Shalabhasana or Locust pose. Laying on the stomach lift the arms and legs up at the same time balancing on the pelvis. Another good pose for digestion it helps with gastric troubles and flatulence.
Ok, now for a couple of serious twists to wring out those internal organs! The first pose is Marichyasana I. The extended leg should press into the floor as the bent leg and bent arm should counter press against each other.
Next, all you need any type of chair, preferably a folding chair. Bharadvajasana, named after the Sage Bharadvaj, in a chair. Sitting with the legs to one side and both arms on the back of the chair inhale and as you exhale turn and twist. The more you expel out all the air the deeper you will be able to twist.
The last pose is Supta Virasana or Reclined Hero pose. A nice restorative version! Supta Virasana is a pose that can be practiced right after eating. So if you know you are going to indulge yourself deeply then be prepared to rest a little while in Supta Virasana. This pose will aid the digestion process. You can use a folded blanket instead of a bolster if you don't have one. Make sure to lay another folded blanket perpendicular over the bolster or blanket to support the head. Reclining in this pose allows the chest, abdomen and pelvic region to stretch out. It is also extremely intense on the thighs, knees, and ankles so if you know they are tight make sure to sit on a folded blanket before reclining back with the calves to the side of the thighs.
And there you have it, 8 simple poses that can be done in about 30-45 minutes to help you control those Thanksgiving tendencies to gorge oneself! Make sure to include at least a 3 minutes Savasana or Corpse pose to end your sequence. Allow the body to 'digest' all that you have done for it. Ok, so 9 simple poses including Savasana but still very doable!
I hope you all take some time to reflect on the abundance in your life and enjoy the nourishment Mother Earth provides us with.
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The 'Yoga Sutras of Patanajali' consist of 195 Sanskrit aphorisms written by the Sage Patanjali. Those who are serious students of Yoga are familiar with this work and use it as a tool in their practice and teaching.
Chapter 1 Verse 1 of the Sutras - "Atha yoganusasanam"
This sutra is an introduction of what is to be extolled. In Sanskrit, any auspicious undertaking is first started with the word "atha", which can be translated to mean "now begins". It introduces to us that a subject will now be explained. By using this term Patanjali is noting the auspiciousness of the explanations to follow on what Yoga is. He is grabbing the attention of the reader by declaring "atha", NOW, not later, not tomorrow, not next week... but the importance of taking hold of being present. Now, also meaning that there need not be any qualifications needed to study Yoga, as it is available and needed for everyone. So, what will be explained? "Yoganusasanam", which can be translated to mean following the path of instruction by the ancient sages on Yoga. So the phrase becomes, "Now begins the instruction on Yoga, as laid down by the ancient sages, that is available to everyone". This first verse should not just be taken lightly to mean "now begins the study of Yoga". It means that anyone who wants to can approach the task by taking the responsibility to begin the path of Yoga... or more simply, in today's context, reconnecting the body with mind and soul to achieve a sense of freedom.
When people think of Yoga they think of poses like Warrior I, Tree, Eagle, Triangle but Yoga does not mean postures or asanas. Rather, asanas are just a part of Yoga. The practice of Yoga encompasses other aspects of practice in conjuction with asanas such as meditation, breath control, and diet to name a few. Yoga is a way of conscious living. Yoga, in the context of the Yoga Sutras means samadhi or loosely translated as freedom. Yoga can also mean union. There are many different meanings of Yoga but they all refer back to as TKV Desikachar beautifully put it, "the means by which we can make the changes we desire in our lives."
We have become so dead to our emotions and what happens in our own bodies that illness (both mental and physical) takes over a large percentage of the population and that large population. We have forgotten what it means to sit quietly and reflect. Use the present to begin your path to a new you, anyone who is willing can do it. Will that path be an easy one? No, probably not, but I can guarantee that you will look back on your old self with a bemusement and wisdom that will only lead to greater santosha or contentment with one's Self.