Some of us have learnt that to avoid a nasty hangover it helps if you alternate with a glass of water between each drink. But when you’re caught up in the moment and the drinks are flowing it can be easy to forget this useful bit of wisdom. The Result? A cracking hangover; Headache, fatigue, nausea, dry mouth and even diarrhoea. These are all symptoms of a hangover that can end up ruining your whole day.
But don’t despair, because Yoga can help! No really! But before I explain how, let’s examine what happens to the body when you consume alcohol.
That pounding headache you feel is most likely caused by dehydration. As the body tries to restore it’s fluid levels, after all that drinking (and peeing) the blood vessels restrict. As they narrow, it becomes harder for the blood and the oxygen within it to get to your brain. The vessels in the brain try to compensate by dilating, causing swelling, which in turn leads to pressure and pain. So that’s the headache explained, what about the nausea and stomach problems?
Alcohol irritates the stomach and the intestinal lining. It causes the stomach lining to inflame and can delay the passage of food through the stomach, whilst also increasing the production of gastric acid which can lead to bloating, flatulence and heartburn.
So now we know a a bit more about why things hurt, let’s now talk about what we can do to fix it!
1. Corpse pose and massaging the base of the skull:
When we go to sleep drunk, we can end up sleeping in a twisted position that strains the neck. A stiff neck can then lead to neck and head pain. In Corpse pose we position the body for ultimate relaxation. The base of the skull is a point in which all humans universally hold tension. Massaging this point can help with the stiff neck and headache whilst also releasing mental stress.
Get in to the pose:
- If you have a Yoga block, grab it. If not, grab a couple of books whose edges are not too sharp. Cover the books with a blanket or towel for padding. We will use the yoga block or books as a pillow.
- Place a yoga mat or blanket on the floor, and lie flat on your back on it. Check that your body is straight as you lie down and that you aren’t curving to one side like a banana.
- Let your feet fall outwards as you relax your legs, and turn the palms of your hands up towards the ceiling to relax your shoulders.
- Lay your head on the block or books, so the long edge is just at the base of your skull. Now move your head from side to side as if you were shaking your head to say ‘no’, and feel the soothing massaging effect.
2. Childs Pose:
This is one of the most restorative of all Yoga poses. It is a pose that you can stay in for a really long time without having to exert any energy. Closing your eyes will help to rest the extraocular muscles which can also help with reducing a headache. The compression of the thighs against the belly will massage your internal organs and aid digestion. And dropping the buttocks down towards the heels will stretch out your lower back, reducing back pain.
Get into the pose:
- From Corpse pose, roll onto your side, using your arm as a pillow. Rest for a moment on your side with knees bent.
- Press one hand onto the floor and push yourself up. Come onto all fours.
- Bring your feet together and walk your knees out so you have enough space for your body to rest between your knees.
- Bring the head down to the mat and the buttocks down towards your heels.
- You can also experiment with placing the block, books or a blanket beneath your forehead here. Moving your head from side to side as if to say ‘no’ will again provide you with a nice forehead massage.
Moving the body helps to get the blood flowing and as the blood flows we clean out toxins. The body works faster to restore itself and processes out the alcohol and it’s by products. But moving can be tough when you’re tired, have a headache and feel sick. Gentle movements like cat-cow can be a great start. This pose works both the spine and the abdomen. In my classes I often say we do this pose to ‘wake up the spine’ as it gets the blood flowing around the spine, loosens up the muscles around the spine, and allows the spinal fluid to flow more freely as well. Another great restorative pose.
Get into the pose:
- From Childs pose, bring your hands to shoulder level and push yourself up onto all fours.
- Make sure your knees are hip distance apart, and your knees are beneath your hips.
- Also check that your hands are directly beneath your shoulders.
- Spread your fingers wide and press the entire palm into the ground to protect your wrists.
- As you inhale deeply, arch the back and look up. As you exhale round the back and look towards your belly button.
- Do this for about 8-10 repetitions.
- Afterwards you can rest once again in Childs pose. If your wrists hurt, make circles with your wrists.
- So there you have it, some gentle, simple yoga to help restore your body back to premium health. And don’t forget to drink lots of water and eat some fruit and veg.What is your best hangover cure? And I’d love to hear if the poses worked in helping you. Leave a comment below 🙂