5 Core Essentials – Feeling Fit for the Festive Season
As the Christmas season approaches, it makes sense to have a game plan for your digestive health. Eating, drinking and being merry can take its toll on your tummy so here’s 5 tips to keep you looking and feeling your Christmas-best!
- Supplements for the Season – My personal favourites: glutamine, probiotics and digestive enzymes. Glutamine, the most abundant amino acid found in your blood, plays many essential roles in the body. Most importantly it repairs the gut lining after excessive alcohol, processed foods or antibiotics. It also helps to detoxify the liver. Just the trick to clear your head when your game plan goes out the window! A good quality probiotic will aid digestion and boost immunity. A recent study suggests that probiotic bacteria may also help relieve anxiety and depression. Support the good bacteria in your gut by eating fermented foods: think yoghurt, sauerkraut, miso, aged cheese, tamari. Take digestive enzymes to help your system process rich fatty foods.
- Twist and Shout – If you’re on the dance floor this holiday season, sneak in some yoga-like twists. Yoga twists work the outer core: back muscles, abdominals and obliques. This helps to support movement in the spine as well as toning the tummy and waist area. Twists also help you to keep in shape by creating movement in and around our organs, thus helping food to move along the digestive tract. I cannot resist a reference to the 1990s classic, ‘Dancin at the disco? where’s me (Christmas) jumper? where’s me (Christmas) jumper?’.
- Rest and Digest – The shape and effective functioning of your core is greatly affected by your digestive health. With time off work over the Christmas, you can afford to eat like an Italian, enjoying long mealtimes followed by a siesta! This allows your body to devote all resources to digestion, thereby ensuring optimum absorption of nutrients and eliminations of wastes. If siestas are not your thing, you could start to develop some healthful eating habits. Eating mindfully is a good place to start and involves more than just endlessly chewing your food. Mindful eating invites us to savour the flavours and textures, slowing down to take pleasure in the mealtime experience.
- Get Better at Stress – We can’t avoid it, yet studies show that stress hormones lead to weight gain around the midriff, just where you don’t want it. Let’s face it, this time of year can be intense. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Make use of the yogic skill of letting go to keep calm when you’re feeling the pressure. It may help to know that a recent study found that people who view stress in a positive way, don’t suffer the effects of stress. In fact, it has a positive impact on their health. In other words, stress is OK if you’re OK with stress. Your attitude is all-important. Stress is a natural part of life. View it as a way to develop inner strength as you rise to challenges and transcend your previous capacities. The yoga skills of concentration, conscious relaxation and breath awareness will help you to survive and even thrive through stress.
- It’s Great Outdoors – Whatever the weather, head outside to enjoy the benefits of fresh air and natural light, an immediate mood-booster. By taking a walk around noon, you can maximise your ‘lux’ intake, the term used to measure light. Exposure to outdoor light is critical for regulating sleep-wake cycles, mood and appetite. Being outdoors for 30-60 minutes each day promotes sound sleep and increases metabolism. So wrap up and head for the park, beach or forest!
This Sunday’s Core and Restore workshop will focus on breathing techniques that tone your core from the inside out. So forget stomach crunching sit-ups and look forward to the unique practice of Kapalabhati. Known as Skull Shining Breath, Kapalabhati cleanses the nasal passages, improves blood flow to the brain and strengthens the deepest layer of abdominal muscle, transverse abdominal.
In addition, the workshop will focus on strengthening the inner and outer core muscles in tandem with the breath. In the latter half of the workshop, you will experience the deep release of restorative yoga poses which help us to let go of the gripping sensations we experience in the belly as a result of stress.
Restorative yoga triggers the Relaxation Response, soothing the nervous system and allowing you to rest deeply.