We invest in gadgets, stock up on supplements and sign up to gym classes to improve our health and wellbeing, but what if we told you the most powerful tool you have is actually free? In our new weekly column, JANINE THOMAS explains how using your body, mind and breath can help you sail through life – and it won’t cost you a cent. Each week she takes a different, often challenging, scenario and shows you how to make the best of it using the simplest methods.
LET’S get this straight. If you were out partying until the wee small hours, slamming tequilas and twerking on table tops, I cannot help you, my friend. You need to bury yourself under the duvet and lie very, very still until the depths of your hangover from hell pass. If, however, you had one too many vinos and a late night, there are ways to ease the pain and speed up your recovery.
A hangover develops as your blood alcohol concentration approaches zero and that’s when a parched throat, headache, exhaustion, nausea and ‘hangxiety’ kick in. The Alcohol Hangover Research Group sums this up nicely as ‘a general feeling of misery’. I couldn’t agree more.
The restorative yoga sequence I have devised is designed to help you both physically and mentally. If you’re feeling particularly shabby, you can do all the moves in bed, snuggled under the duvet, or take it onto your mat but make sure you have a few blankets and pillows to keep comfort levels high when you’re feeling delicate.
1. HEAD MASSAGE
LAY with a yoga block or a thick book under your head. The dehydration that comes with a hangover can cause muscular tension, so try to relax the body, starting with your feet and working all the way up to the top of the head. Close your eyes to give them a muchneeded rest. Now pay attention to your breath. Take a slow, smooth inhale through the nose and a lovely long exhale through the mouth. Repeat this three times. Keep your connection to the breath, really focusing on the rise and fall of the body as you breathe. This combats anxiety and fatigue as well as giving your brain an oxygen boost – great for helping headaches.
Slowly roll your head from side to side so the block or book gives the base of the skull a gentle massage. This is instant relief for a stiff neck and thumping head.
2. RESTORATIVE TWIST
PULL your knees into the chest and give them a hug. Lay your arms out to the sides and slowly drop the knees to the right-hand side.
Turn your head to the left to complete a full twist of the spine. Soften your body, sinking deeper into the twist. Breathe and rest. Repeat on the other side. A gentle twist massages your digestive system and encourages peristalsis (the muscular contractions that move food through the body, which means your body might process all that alcohol a little quicker (note: avoid if you feel desperately nauseous).
3. CHILD’S POSE
ROLL onto your stomach and tuck the knees in. Rest your head on a pillow, cushion or block to make this posture really comforting. Again, focus on your breath. Let the hips rest on your heels and feel the spine lengthen. The gentle compression of the abdomen will help peristalsis and stimulate the lymphatic system to remove waste from the body.
Finally, drag yourself out of bed and take a long hot shower to relax your muscles and freshen up. Sip water with a slice of lemon to rehydrate and eat a banana to raise blood sugar and replace lost potassium and electrolytes.
And vow never, ever to drink again…
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