I recently went on a campaign to try to eat more mindfully. Before I reach for seconds or grab the bag of trail mix, I try to ask myself – do you really want that, or is this movement of the arm away from the body and towards food just a habit of my arm that has nothing to do with what’s going on in my stomach? But the holidays have put an end to that! The seduction of the senses is endless. My husband’s clients send him home with boxes of cookies and chocolates, there are all the holiday events and celebrations with their culinary temptations, and how could I insult my sister-in-law by not sampling all four desserts at Thanksgiving?
Besides making it difficult to get into my favorite slacks, this is wreaking havoc on my digestive system. Eating rich foods makes me feel bloated and heavy, not to mention other unmentionable GI side effects. But, to paraphrase a certain electronics firm’s catchphrase, there’s a yoga practice for that!There is a concept in yoga called pratyahara, which can be translated as a “withdrawal of the senses.” This doesn’t necessarily mean withdrawing from the outside world, but rather implies that the practitioner maintains an inner focus and carefully examines sensations instead of mindlessly acting on them. One way to do this is (if you’ve been reading these posts, I’m sure you already know the answer) focusing on the breath.
And as you focus on the breath, especially for the purpose of easing GI discomfort, it can be useful to pay particular attention to the abdomen pushing out at the end of the inhale and contracting at the beginning of the exhale.
The practice that follows is a short sample of a sequence of poses you might try to deal with holiday bloat.