Holiday Pounds, TWIST em’ OUT

By:  Cindi Lee – Yoga Instructor

Contributor’s Website:  Cindi Lee Yoga


We all understand how it feels to put on a few extra holiday pounds. Yes, it happens even here in LA where we have a gazillion choices of yoga studios, gyms, beaches, canyons, hilly streets, stairs and parks to stay in shape located all over the city. From the hard core vegans to carnivores, gaining weight over the course of the Winter Holiday season is a cultural norm. These extra holiday pounds come from overindulging in various foods and drinks at fun holiday parties. The unwanted belly bulge also stems from a lack of sleep and an increasingly amount of stress. For example, family obligations, airport chaos, and intense shopping!

Incorporating various Twisting poses during the day supports your overall health and well being by: 
1) Balancing the Digestive Fire in your belly 
2) Cleansing of the internal organs 
3) Reducing Stress and Fatigue

Digestive Fire is a popular phrase used in most yoga classes. Your digestive Fire, also known as Agni, is responsible for processing and absorbing the foods we eat. Each person is capable of digesting certain foods better than others. So rather than saying “You are what you eat,” Alternative Medicine would say, “you are what you digest. Your Agni is literally a fire in your digestive system. Your digestive system is composed of your mouth, oesophagus, stomach, liver, gall bladder, small intestines, pancreas, and large intestines. When the “Fire” is not fueled properly it can run too hot or not hot enough. Either way, unhealthy Agni creates undigested food in your body. The residue is toxic. These toxins clog, block, and stick to the channels in the mind and body, ultimately resulting in disease. 


Wait, you don’t have to run and do an untimely Master Cleanse just yet. Did you know that twisting yoga poses stimulate your digestive fire while cleansing your internal organs? When you perform a twist, the internal organs are compressed and toxins are being pushed out, like a good massage. When the twist is released fresh oxygenated blood and nutrients are rushing in. Twisting poses promote detoxification and elimination in the body on a deep cellular level. 
Sleep is usually the best remedy to carry out all of your healing. Understandably, if you lead a typical LA lifestyle, sleep may not come easy during this time of the year. Most yoga poses including twists lower your stress levels and reduce fatigue. When you twist your spine, you are releasing trapped energy along the spinal column. It is like ringing out a wet dish rag. You will immediately feel more open and at ease. Furthermore, a rigid spine and a flexible mind can rarely be found together. If the body is tied up in knots, so are the mind and emotions. 
Let’s counteract the Holiday madness by taking positive action towards your overall health and well being. 
Get your TWIST on…….. 
Half Lord of the Fishes Pose/ Ardha Matsyendrasana- one of my favorite twisting asanas (poses) because it stimulates the upper and lower abdominal organs. 

  1. Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. Bend your knees, put your feet on the floor, then slide your left foot under your right leg to the outside of your right hip. Lay the outside of the left leg on the floor. Slide your right foot to the outside of your left knee. The right knee will point directly up at the ceiling. 
  2. Exhale and twist toward the inside of the right thigh. Press the right hand against the floor just behind your right hip, and set your left elbow on the outside of your right knee. Pull your front torso and inner right thigh snugly together. 
  3. Right foot is flat on the floor. On your inhales lengthen your spine from your tailbone to the crown of your head. 
  4. On your exhales twist and look past your left shoulder. Stay for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then release with an inhalation, return to the starting position, and repeat to the left for the same length of time. 
Benefits

  • Stimulates the liver, kidneys, and spleen- they will cease to be sluggish 
  • Helps reduce the size of the abdomen 
  • increases better functioning of the intestines 
  • Stretches the shoulders, hips, and neck 
  • Energizes the spine 
  • Stimulates the digestive fire in the belly 
  • Relieves menstrual discomfort, fatigue, sciatica, and backache 
  • Therapeutic for asthma and infertility 
  • Traditional texts say that Ardha Matsyendrasana increases appetite, destroys most deadly diseases, and awakens kundalini. 
Yoga Tip- To assist in losing weight and unwanted belly fat, perform Half Lord of the Fishes pose in the morning for five minutes on each side. Drink warm water with the juice of a fresh squeezed lemon. Grab your favorite magazine and head to the bathroom.

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Contributor’s Website:  Cindi Lee Yoga

Image credits: Digestion System by Rui Sheng, Photo of yoga pose taken by Alex Vasilescu, model Cindi Lee 

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