When you’ve had a few too many the night before, the last thing you may feel like doing is moving from the safety of your bed. But these gentle yoga postures from Lily Silverton will help to ease those nasty hangover symptoms…
A hangover is your body’s way of telling you it needs some repair work. And while it’s exceptionally good at detoxing and cleansing itself (‘detox’ diets can do one), yoga is the perfect recovery assistant. This is because it’s one of the few physical activities that has the ability to work beyond the superficial layers of the body (skin, muscles, etc.) and into the organs. It increases blood flow, revives digestion, improves circulation, and even supports the function of the lymphatic system – one of your body’s main methods for removing metabolic waste products (aka: that 4th Aperol Spritz).
Finally, it can really help with feelings of depression and anxiety – common after-effects of alcohol. Not only does yoga re-stabilise your endocrine system (which is closely linked to your moods), but also the philosophy itself encourages acceptance and kindness. Yes, you had a big night, but there’s zero need to beat yourself up about it now. You probably also had a lot of fun, so eliminate those toxic thoughts (along with those actual toxins!)
Now while I wouldn’t recommend a hot yoga class, a few gentle postures can make a big difference. As you move through the practice be mindful of how you’re feeling – the last thing you want to do is to revisit last night’s Rosé. Take it slow, and don’t be afraid to stay a while in child’s pose or savasana. Both these active rest postures help reset your nervous system into a state of relaxation – the perfect place from which the body can replenish and restore.
Find a comfortable seat and start your practice with a few deep, cleansing and calming breaths. (If you smoked this will really help clear the stale air from the bottom of your lungs, as well as encourage blood flow and regeneration of the damaged tissues.) Sit for 2-5 minutes, keeping your focus on the breath. Don’t worry if your mind is racing – this is 100% normal – try to simply let the thoughts come and go, without attachment. And remember: be kind to your mind.
Wide-knee Childs Pose
This peaceful posture places the head below the heart, which in turn soothes your nervous system into its restful state. It also helps direct the energy flow to your liver and kidneys, regenerating them. Stay here for a few minutes or as long is needed, gently rocking the skull from side to side to massage and relieve that pounding head.
Alcohol can irritate the stomach and intestinal linings, causing bloating, nausea, and sometimes pain. This posture helps reset the digestive system by stimulating the colon. Hold for 5/10 breaths.
Headaches are a very real consequence of drinking (especially when coupled with sunshine). Before you reach for the paracetamol, try this trusted posture – it relieves neck pressure and spinal/lower back tension. It also encourages blood flow throughout the body, and acts as a gentle inversion – which can help banish that dreaded brain fog. Hold for 5/10 breaths, or if you’re feeling up to it build into a few slow rounds of sun salutations.
Dehydration can lead the body to feel a bit like it’s collapsing in on itself. Lengthen it back out with this side stretch, which also releases tight hamstrings and IT bands – ideal for tired post-dancing-all-night legs. Hold for 3 breaths on the left, before transitioning slowly over and repeating on the right.
Sphinx or Cobra
A big night can sometimes leave you feeling like you don’t want to face the day. A gentle backbend is ideal here as it opens up the chest and lungs, giving you a false sense of confidence (fake it till you make it). Hold for 3/5 breaths.
Seated Spinal Twist
Twist it all out! This pose encourages fresh blood flow to the digestive organs, thereby improving the health of the whole digestive system. Also, abdominal organs are massaged, promoting swifter toxin removal. Hold for 4/6 breaths, and remember – the twist comes from your stomach not your neck.
The liver and kidneys are brilliant at detoxing (it’s literally what they do), but this posture can help them along by increasing fresh blood flow to the area and stimulating a quicker response. Use props as needed to make it restful. Hold for a few minutes each side.
Finish your practice with a Yin yoga posture that targets the liver meridian running up the inside of your legs. Make sure you have a block (or better yet stack of pillows) to prop your head. Breathe, release. Stay for 3-5 minutes.
Make yourself as comfortable as possible and allow your body to soften and sink into the mat beneath you. This posture helps reset the nervous system and banish fatigue. Stay for at least 5 minutes (and feel free to fall asleep!)
Hettie is the editor and co-founder of DOSE. A keen runner, she’s also partial to a blast of high-intensity and hot yoga. A country girl at heart, she divides her time between London and the lush rolling hills of North Devon. When she’s not jetting off on her next adventure, Hettie can be found in a candle-lit alcove with a laptop, a spaniel and a full bodied Malbec.