Counter Your Thanksgiving Feast With Gentle Reclining Twists That Aid Digestion

Counter Your Thanksgiving Feast With Gentle Reclining Twists That Aid Digestion

Relieve digestive discomfort with this short, relaxing yoga sequence.

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Thanksgiving is a holiday that may involve flying home to visit family, spending hours on end in the kitchen, Black Friday shopping, and spending time with loved ones. It's also a time that we are intentional about what we are grateful and thankful for - this always brings me back to the practice of yoga and its ability to connect us back to our ability to improve our own health and wellbeing.

This yoga sequence will help aid digestion by utilizing gentle twists that increase circulation to the digestive and abdominal organs. Additionally, these yoga postures relieve stress, which improves the gut-brain connection. Learn how a few simple postures can help relieve any issues with digestion such as bloating and constipation. Most importantly, eat what you want, relax, and enjoy your holiday!

1. Warm-up with Knees to Chest pose (Sanskrit: Apanasana)

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This pose will be one we return to in-between twisting postures. It is a great pose for digestion because the compression of drawing your knees into your chest aids elimination and also relieves your lower back from any tension built up sitting on a cramped airplane. Hugging your knees in towards your chest, massage your back by rolling left to right and back and forth to warm up the spine for our upcoming twists.

2. Asymmetrical Reclining Spinal Twist (Sanskrit: Supta Matsyendrasana)

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From Apanasana, stretch your left leg out long and keep the right knee drawn in towards your chest. Take a deep breath in, and allow your right knee to twist over to the left on an exhale by gently guiding your knee with your left hand. Stretch your right arm out to the side, aiming to keep the right shoulder anchored to the ground. If your neck is comfortable doing so, gaze over to the right side. If you are experiencing tension in your low back, place a bolster or pillow at your left side to support your right knee. Hold this posture for 5 breaths before slowly switching to the other side.

3. Apanasana into Thread the Needle Pose (Sanskrit: Sucirandhrasana)

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Return to hugging your knees back into your chest to bring your spine back to neutral, then stretch your legs out and plant your feet on the floor with your knees bent. To come into Thread the Needle (also referred to as Eye of the Needle), cross your right ankle over your left thigh. If this feels like a good stretch in your right hip, you can stay here. If you want to deepen the stretch, you will "thread" your hands through the opening between your thighs and pick up your left thigh by interlacing your fingers and drawing your legs closer to you. Hip openers in yoga are notoriously intense, so breath deeply while holding this stretch and notice where you might be holding any tension (are you clenching your jaw or squinting your eyes?). Hold this posture for 5 to 8 breaths before switching sides.

4. Thread the Needle Twist (Sanskrit: Parivrtta Sucirandhrasana)

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We will return to Thread the Needle on the right side, and on an exhale, slowly let your legs fall over to the left with your arms out to your sides like a T. A block or bolster can provide support to prevent your lower back from feeling any tension or pressure. After holding this twist for about 5 breaths, come back to center on an inhale, and switch over to the right side on an exhale.

5. Knees to Chest pose into Single Knee to Chest pose (Sanskrit: Apanasana into Eka Pada Apanasana)

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Bring both knees into your chest again, and stretch out your left leg, hugging your right knee into your chest. Interlace your fingers either behind your thigh or on top of your shin. After a couple breaths, switch sides and bring your left knee into your chest. Do this for 5 cycles, and move with your breath - draw your knee into your chest with a deep breath in, and release to switch sides with an exhale.

6. Closing - Yogi's Choice

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Depending on how you feel after these twists, you can do a short Savasana, lie in constructive rest (knees bent, feet planted on the floor, knees knock in towards each other like a pyramid), take another hip opener like Happy Baby. Take a moment to sit cross-legged, bring your palms together at your heart's center, and show yourself gratitude for taking care of yourself and slowing down in the midst of holiday festivities.

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Why High School Musicals Should Be As Respected As Sports Programs Are

The arts are important, too.
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When I was in middle school and high school, I felt like I lived for the musicals that my school orchestrated.

For those of you who don't know, a musical is an onstage performance wherein actors take on roles that involve singing, and often dancing, to progress the plot of the story. While it may sound a little bit nerdy to get up in front of an audience to perform in this manner, this is something you cannot knock until you try it.

For some reason, though, many public schools have de-funded arts programs that would allow these musicals to occur, while increasing the funding for sports teams. There are a few things that are being forgotten when sports are valued more than musical programs in high schools.

Much like athletic hobbies, an actor must try-out, or audition, to participate in a musical. Those best suited for each role will be cast, and those who would not fit well are not given a part. While this may sound similar to trying out for say, basketball, it is an apples to oranges comparison.

At a basketball try-out, those who have the most experience doing a lay-up or shooting a foul shot will be more likely to succeed, no questions asked. However, for an audition, it is common to have to learn a piece of choreography upon walking in, and a potential cast member will be required to sing a selected piece with only a few days of preparation.

There are many more variables involved with an audition that makes it that much more nerve-racking.

The cast of a school musical will often rehearse for several months to perfect their roles, with only several nights of performance at the end. Many sports practice for three or four days between each of their respective competitions. While this may seem to make sports more grueling, this is not always the case.

Musicals have very little pay-off for a large amount of effort, while athletic activities have more frequent displays of their efforts.

Athletes are not encouraged to but are allowed to make mistakes. This is simply not allowed for someone in a musical, because certain lines or entrances may be integral to the plot.

Sometimes, because of all the quick changes and the sweat from big dance numbers, the stage makeup just starts to smear. Despite this, an actor must smile through it all. This is the part of musicals that no sport has: introspection.

An actor must think about how he or she would respond in a given situation, be it saddening, maddening, frightening, or delightful. There is no sport that requires the knowledge of human emotion, and there is especially no sport that requires an athlete to mimic such emotion. This type of emotional exercise helps with communications and relationships.

Sports are great, don't get me wrong. I loved playing volleyball, basketball, track, and swimming, but there were no experiences quite like those from a musical. Sports challenge the body with slight amounts of tactic, while musicals require much physical and mental endurance.

The next time you hear someone say that it's “just a musical," just remember that musicals deserve as much respect as sports, since they are just as, if not more demanding.

Cover Image Credit: Cincinnati Arts

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10 Shows To Watch If You're Sick Of 'The Office'

You can only watch it so many times...

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"The Office" is a great show, and is super easy to binge watch over and over again! But if you're like me and you're looking for something new to binge, why not give some of these a try? These comedies (or unintentional comedies) are a great way to branch out and watch something new.

1. "New Girl"

A show about a group of friends living in an apartment in a big city? Sound familiar? But seriously, this show is original and fresh, and Nick Miller is an icon.

2. "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend"

Ya'll have been sleeping on this show. It's a musical comedy about a girl that follows her ex boyfriend across the country. I thought it sounded horrible so I put it off for WAY too long, but then I realized how incredible the cast, music, writing, and just EVERYTHING. It really brings important issues to light, and I can't say too much without spoiling it. Rachel Bloom (the creator of the show) is a woman ahead of her time.

3. "Jane the Virgin"

I know... another CW show. But both are so incredible! Jane The Virgin is a tongue-in-cheek comedy and parody of telenovelas. It has so many twists and turns, but somehow you find yourself laughing with the family.

4. "Brooklyn Nine-Nine"

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Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been in popular news lately since its cancellation by Fox and sequential pickup by NBC. It's an amazing show about cops in, you guessed it, Brooklyn. Created by the amazing Michael Schur, it's a safe bet that if you loved "The Office" you'll also love his series "Brooklyn Nine-Nine".

5. "The Good Place"

Another series created by the talented Micael Schur, it's safe to say you've probably already heard about this fantasy-comedy series. With a wonderful cast and writing that will keep you on your toes, the show is another safe bet.

6. "Fresh Off The Boat"

Seriously, I don't know why more people don't watch this show. "Fresh Off The Boat" focuses on an Asian family living in Orlando in the mid 90s. Randall Parks plays a character who is the polar opposite of his character in "The Interview" (Yeah, remember that horrifying movie?) and Constance Wu is wonderful as always.

7. "Full House"

Why not go back to the basics? If you're looking for a nostalgic comedy, go back all the way to the early days of Full House. If you're a '98-'00 baby like me, you probably grew up watching the Tanner family on Nick at Night. The entire series is available on Hulu, so if all else fails just watch Uncle Jesse and Rebecca fall in love again or Michelle fall off a horse and somehow lose her memory.

8. "Secret Life of the American Teenager"

Okay, this show is not a comedy, but I have never laughed so hard in my life. It's off Netflix but it's still on Hulu, so you can watch this masterpiece there. Watch the terrible acting and nonsense plot twists drive this show into the ground. Somehow everyone in this school dates each other? And also has a baby? You just have to watch. It might be my favorite show of all time.

9. "Scrubs"

Another old show that is worth watching. If you ignore the last season, Scrubs is a worthwhile medical comedy about doctors in both their personal and medical life. JD and Turk's relationship is one to be jealous of, and one hilarious to watch. Emotional at times, this medical drama is superior to any medical drama that's out now.

10. "Superstore"

I was resistant to watch this one at first, because it looked cheesy. But once I started watching I loved it! The show is a workplace comedy, one you're sure to love if you can relate to working in retail. If you liked the Office, you'll like Superstore!

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