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6 yoga poses to help you survive a hangover

It is the end of another bank holiday and I am sure you, and everyone else celebrating the long weekend, have consumed a little bit too much alcohol and the prospect of returning to work on Tuesday seems to call for another three days of sleep. The hope of a wholesome weekend enjoying the fresh air while sipping on some gorgeous elderflower cordial concoctions may have swiftly been replaced by several refreshing Sauvignons after you were ‘persuaded’ to join some enthusiastic work colleagues at the pub early on Friday evening for ‘one’ drink. The Saturday morning jog may have turned into waking up with a migration of make-up heading south, followed by a quick vom before dashing out for that fry up, all washed down with a delicious Bloody Mary. We have all been there (I definitely have) and the Instagram post of decadently positioned avocado, seeds and porridge oats is far from the truth of your weekend.

However, do not fret, all is not lost. I know yoga might be the last thing on your mind as you crawl from your duvet on Monday morning but it can go a long way to minimise your suffering and aid the recovery process. I even tried these yoga poses when I led a yoga class for hungover hens at my old school friend’s recent hen do. I have included links to the pose on the Yoga Journal website, which is great for detailed descriptions of each pose. So let’s (gently) dive into the poses and I toast you a speedy recovery!

1. Corpse Pose (Savasana)

Corpse Pose - Savasana

To ease yourself into the sequence, start in Savasana, the ultimate relaxation pose, lying on your back with your legs and arms softly splayed out. Focus on the breath to relax the body fully, slowly inhaling and exhaling through your nose and keep your eyes closed. Stay here for at least 10 long, full breaths.

I don’t know about you, but I tend to move around a lot during sleep when I have been drinking, leaving me feeling exhausted and achy. By focusing on relaxing the whole body you might help yourself to relax fully and help you into that mid-afternoon hangover nap that often sorts me out.

2. Child’s Pose (Balasana)

Child's Pose - Balasana

Again, to ease yourself into the sequence and avoid giving your body too much of a shock, slowly move yourself into Child’s Pose, the second ultimate relaxation pose. With toes touching and knees splayed out to the side, rest your forehead on your mat, the floor, or rest it on your hands. Slowly inhale and exhale through the mouth for at least 10 long, full breaths.

Child’s Pose gently compresses your abdomen to stimulate peristalsis and enhances the circulation of the lymph, one of your body’s main methods for removing metabolic waste products (Reference: Yoga Journal).

You then move your hands 45 degrees to the left to stretch the side of your body, keeping your arms straight and hold for five full breaths and repeat on the right side.

3. Cat-Cow Pose (Bitilasana)

Cat-Cow Pose - Bitilasana

Moving onto your hands and you knees, you can now begin moving a little bit more but still as slowly as you feel you need to! Ensure that your wrists are directly below your shoulders and your knees are directly below your hips. On your inhale, arch your back, let you belly relax and reach your head up and forward. On your exhale, round your spine like a cat and imagine you are pulling your belly towards your spine, engaging your abs. Move as slowly and carefully as you need and repeat for at least 10 rounds.

The gentle movement of this pose activates your cardiovascular system which affects blood flow. This movement can help your body process the alcohol. Regardless of how this pose benefits what’s going inside your body, moving the body and starting to stretch the spine can really help anyone feel better. It really is better than spending most of the morning sleeping, watching television and eating crisps.

4. Seated Spinal Twist (Ardha Matsyendrasana)

Seated Spinal Twist - Ardha Matsyendrasana

Crossing your legs and sitting down, ensure that the spine is tall and your core is engaged. Inhale as your raise your arms and lengthen your spine and then as you exhale, slowly twist towards the right side, gazing over your right shoulder. Your right hand is planted behind you and your left hand is gently resting on your right knee. Stay in this pose for 5 breaths and repeat on the other side.

Seated spinal twists are great for stretching your shoulders and opening up your chest, excellent for remedying your aching neck, shoulders and back from a disrupted sleep. Twists are some of my favourite poses as you can really feel the stretch of the spin. I spend my days sitting down at a desk so waking up the back in this way is great for stretching out the compression. Twists help to improve spinal healthy, flexibility as well as digestion.

5. Legs Up the Wall Pose (Viparita Karani)

Legs Up the Wall Pose - Viparita Karani

While reading up for the yoga class I put together for my friend’s hen party and for this article, I found that all inversions were recommended. However, considering I predict that most people while hungover are in no mental state to wrestle with shoulderstand, headstand or forearm balance. Legs Up the Wall Pose is a passive, supported pose where you rest your legs vertically on a wall. Rest in this pose for a least 10 long, full breaths. This pose is widely held up as one of the most therapeutic yoga poses and it is hard not to enjoy the benefits. You may feel relieved from tired or cramped legs and feet, from mild backache all while feeling more calm in the mind.

Note: Many yoga teachers recommend that inversions should be avoided during menstruation and/or if you have serious eye problems (e.g. glaucoma).

6. Reclining Bound Angle Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana)

Reclining Bound Angle Pose - Supta Baddha Konasana

This classic restorative pose involves returning to the safety of lying on your back with feet together and knees bent out to either side. This pose is truly about relaxation and there is no need to focus on stretching or engaging any part of your body. To achieve a nice state of relaxation, hang out in this pose for 20 breaths. You will feel a slight stretch in the inner thighs and it helps to increase the range of external rotation in the hips.

After enjoying this sequence of simple, relaxing yoga poses, I hope that you are at least on the road to recovery. Other personal remedies for me are lemon and hot water, a delicious veggie fried breakfast, Netflix, some good pals to keep you company and perhaps a wee afternoon nap. Anyway, do not fret; it will all be over soon! Happy Hangover Day!


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