Recover From Your Thanksgiving "Food Coma" with Yoga

by Ivy Markaity Patient Expert

If you're like most people you probably feel uncomfortably stuffed and completely comatose after eating a big Thanksgiving Day meal. One of the reasons we have that overwhelmingly sleepy "comatose" feeling after Thanksgiving is because Turkey contains L-tryptophan, which, is an essential amino acid with a sleep inducing effect. Also Thanksgiving dinner is high in fats and carbohydrates, which eaten together slow down the digestive system. Since fats take a ton of energy to digest, the body sends blood to the digestive system to help it get the job done. This decreases blood flow to other parts of the body thus making you feel lethargic after a big holiday feast. Other factors that contribute to wanting to snooze after consuming a big meal are drinking and overeating.

How can yoga help you recover from Thanksgiving you may wonder? There are many ways in which yoga promotes digestion and boosts metabolism. Certain breathing practices (pranayama) as well as asanas (postures) aid digestion by increasing blood flow to the digestive tract. They also help stimulate the stomach, pancreas and intestines, increase absorption of food and decrease gas and acid production.

Bear in mind that yoga is usually performed on a relatively empty stomach so if you were wondering how in the world you could possible stand on your head after Thanksgiving let alone stand up have no fear A large meal like Thanksgiving will take quite a few hours to digest. Depending on what time you eat there are only certain gentle poses you will be able to practice the day of the big feast. However, you will be able to continue practicing others on the following day, which help improve digestion, relieve digestive problems as well as strengthen the digestive system.

The Day Of (Best practiced 3 to 4 hours after eating)

1.Alternate Nostril Breathing (Nadi-Sodhana):

Close your right nostril with the thumb of your right hand. Inhale through your left nostril. Cover your left nostril with the ring and pinky finger of your right hand as you release your right thumb from your right nostril and exhale through it.

Begin inhaling again through your right nostril. Close your right nostril with the thumb of your right hand and release the fingers from your left nostril as you exhale through it.

Begin inhaling through your left nostril, close your left nostril with the ring and pinky finger of the right hand again. Exhale through your right nostril. Begin inhaling through the right nostril........

Continue in the same manner approximately 10 to 15 rounds.

2. Gentle Seated Spinal Twists: Practiced on a Chair

Spinal twists energize the spine; stimulate the liver and kidneys as well as aid digestion.

Align yourself sitting tall with legs separated hip distance apart. Inhale deeply and lift your sternum and as you exhale turn your torso slightly to the right. Place your left hand on your right thigh and your right hand on the seat of your chair behind your right hip. Inhale again and gently twist a bit deeper to the right making sure you spiral up from the base of your spine so that your head and neck are the last to turn to the right. Soften your gaze as you look behind you or close your eyes and bring all your awareness to your breath. Hold for 5 to 7 cooling breaths. Each time you inhale lift your heart center and lengthen your spine. Be sure to keep your shoulders nice and relaxed. Come back to center and rest for a few breaths and then repeat to the left.

3. Legs-Up-The-Wall Pose (Viparita Karani) Practiced before bed and a few hours after eating. Placing a pillow or blanket under your hips will bring more stimulation to the thyroid gland, which helps speed up metabolism.

The Day After: Breathing Practices (Pranayama) and Asanas (Poses), which help aid digestion and stimulate metabolism. Choose from any of the poses below. Be sure to warm up properly and practice with precise alignment.


1. Nadi-Sodhana (Alternate Nostril Breathing)
2. Bhastrika
3. Kapalabhati
4. Uddiyana Bhanda


1. Spinal Twists
2. Salabhasana (Locust Pose)
3. Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand)
4. Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend)
5. Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)
6. Revolved Triangle Pose (Parivrtta Trikonasana)
7. Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)
8. Head to Knee Pose (Jana Sirsasana)
9. Bow Pose (Dhanurasana)
10.Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)

Happy Thanksgiving!


Ivy Markaity
Meet Our Writer
Ivy Markaity

Ivy wrote for HealthCentral as a patient expert for Fitness & Exercise.