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5 yoga poses to help digestion after a big holiday dinner

Excuse yourself into a bedroom or clear out a little bit of space on the carpet in the living room, then go for it!
/ Source: TODAY Contributor

As a certified yoga instructor, I’ve discovered many people are shocked to find out I recommend doing a few yoga poses here and there, or a five-minute yoga session rather than committing to a full yoga class.

That’s because the poses themselves are so beneficial — whether you do them all together in a class for an hour, or pick and choose different ones to do based on how you’re feeling and what you have time for.

Since holiday meals can be a huge part of our lives right now, maybe you’re looking for help with digestion. Specific yoga poses can do that, as well as reduce bloating and help with gas.

I recommend doing the following poses and holding them for three to five slow breaths after you eat a big meal. All of them help improve digestion by stimulating the abdominal organs; increasing circulation to the intestines, kidneys, spleen and pancreas; and allowing fresh blood and nutrients to flow towards them.

You can excuse yourself into a bedroom or clear out a little bit of space on the carpet in the living room, then go for it!

1. Dangling forward fold

Standing with your feet as wide as your hips, slowly fold forward from your waist. Relax your arms down and let your head hang down, too. Hold on to opposite elbows and allow your head to dangle in between your arms. Press down firmly with both feet and hold for a few breaths. Once you release from the forward fold, fresh blood, oxygen and nutrients flood into the organs, which helps improve digestion and metabolism.

2. Seated spinal twist

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Twists in yoga massage the internal organs. They also help move stool through the colon, which helps reduce bloat and discomfort. Seated on the ground with both legs straight, pull your navel in towards your spine. Then, bend your right knee and put the foot on the outside of the left thigh. Wrap your left arm around your right leg as you twist to the right. Reach your right arm up and then back. Place the fingertips on the ground behind you. Press down firmly with your left straight leg as you breathe in to sit up tall, and breathe out to twist further to your right. Look over your right shoulder and breathe. Then release and switch sides.

3. Boat pose

This pose activates the core and stimulates the abdominal organs. Start by sitting upright with your knees bent.

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Then, slowly roll back onto your tailbone and pull your navel in towards your spine. Engage your core as you reach both knees up and feet up off the ground. Reach the arms forward and then up, and finally extend the legs up, too.

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The final position turns your body into a boat shape! Hold this for a few breaths and maintain a strong core and straight spine for the duration.

4. Locust pose

This pose stretches the entire front part of the body, including the stomach. To come into locust pose, start by lying down on your stomach.

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Place your arms down at your sides. Pull your navel in towards your spine and slowly bring your shoulders up off the ground. Then lift your legs, forehead and chest off the ground.

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Reach the arms behind you and off the ground to gently "fly" in this position, keeping your pubic bone pressing into the ground. Breathe in slowly here.

5. Wide-knee child’s pose

This pose helps soothe and relax the digestive system. To come into this pose, start in a kneeling position with your knees wider than your hips.

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Slowly reach your bottom back towards your heels. Reach your arms forward and allow your head to reach towards the floor.

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Lower down as far as is comfortable, and take slow deep breaths here. As you exhale, feel your bottom sink further down towards your heels.

Stephanie Mansour is a health and fitness expert, and weight-loss coach for women. Join her complimentary health and weight-loss challenge here.