Forget secret stuffing recipes; the most practiced holiday tradition is a combination of anxiety, booze, and turkey fatigue.
To help you over the hump, we asked Leslie Lewis, a former online boutique owner-turned-Williamsburg yoga teacher, for her six favorite stress- and meal-busting poses. If you’ve never taken yoga, maybe skip to the final exercise. Otherwise, be smart. Lewis recommends one session before eating and another two hours after the pie.
Downward Dog Split
Targets: abs, hamstring flexibility, neck and head tension, and circulation.
Start in downward dog. As you inhale your right leg up, keep hips squared to the ground and your right foot flexed. Hold for five deep breaths. Switch sides.
Targets: legs, hips, chest and concentration.
Face your left wall, feet three to four feet apart. Lengthen arms, palms down. Bend your right knee until it’s directly above the ankle, thigh parallel with the ground (right foot should point to the front). Adjust to make sure hips are open. Slightly tuck your tailbone, lengthen your spine, and relax your shoulders. Hold for ten long breaths. Switch sides.
Half Moon Pose
Targets: legs, abs, stress, anxiety, and digestion.
From Warrior 2, tip forward to bring your right hand to the ground, left leg off the mat (the inside of that leg should be parallel to the mat). Make sure your hips are stacked and open toward the left side wall. Flex the extended leg and foot for stability. Hold for five long breaths. Switch sides.
Targets: fatigue, anxiety, digestion, metabolism, and posture.
Lie face down, bend your knees, and grab the outsides of your feet or ankles. Kick back to lift your torso off the mat and look up. Take three long breaths and rock back and forth (tailbone tucked, spine lengthened). Slowly come down, release legs, cheek to mat. Shift hips from side to side. Repeat and rest in child’s pose for ten long breaths.
Shoulder Stand (Lewis’s Super Pose)
Targets: thyroid, digestion, lymphs (drainage boosts immune system), and circulation.
Lying face up, lift your legs and slowly roll them over your head to plow pose. Let your neck unwind; bring hands to your back for support (elbows close together). Lift legs until your body is in a vertical line. Hold for twenty breaths.
Alternate Nostril Breathing
Targets: stimulates both sides of the brain for balanced creative and logical thinking.
Sit comfortably, mouth closed. Bend down your right-hand middle and index fingers. Gently close your left nostril with your ring finger and inhale for four counts. Press your thumb against your right nostril; hold for four. Release ring finger and exhale for four. Repeat three to five minutes.
Photo: Courtesy of Leslie Lewis