"After the show, it's the after party. After the party, it's the hotel lobby..."
After the bachelorette party, it's the... yoga? Yes, if you know what's good for you. While it can't undo the loss of a month's rent on blackjack in Vegas or hooking up with the bride's future brother-in-law, yoga can in fact help expedite your hangover recovery on the morning after the bride-to-be's requisite brouhaha.
Waking with a throbbing head, zero energy, overworked dancing legs and digestive distress -- not to mention the random guy mouth-breathing next to you -- can often result in sworn allegiance to sobriety, abstinence, maybe even the nunnery. In the interim, yoga can at least lessen the shooting pains of last night's glow-in-the-dark shooters. Headaches may soften, bloat may subside, energy may improve. Alas, it can't erase the memories. But perhaps you took care of that last night too...
Sunglasses? Check. Advil? Check. Now for the yoga. This isn't power yoga; there are no fancy tricks, no upside down and backwards, nothing intense -- that's the last thing you need. These can be done with nominal effort in the comfort of your own home. A round or two of these poses and you'll be back to trying on pastel bridesmaids dresses and folding 300 wedding programs in no time. Which, depending on your frequency as a bridesmaid, may make your hangover seem like a piece of (six-tiered, pink-on-pink-layered-with-pink wedding) cake.
Child's pose (Balasana)
Benefits: Can help counter fatigue and dizziness; encourages steady breath; gently massages stomach; and provides gentle stretch to shoulders, back, hurting high heel ankles and dancing legs.
From all fours, walk knees apart wider than hip width and draw big toes to touch behind you. Extend arms forward shoulder width apart and sink hips back to rest toward or on your heels. Rest your aching forehead on the floor, or better yet a soft pillow. In extreme circumstances, this pose may be done on the bathroom floor. (I know. I can't believe that the bride's cousin insisted on body shots either.) Close your eyes and soften your shoulders. Hang out in this pose for as long as you need, and keep your breath steady and deep through the nose.
Head to Knee pose (Janu Sirsasana)
Benefits: Stimulates the liver and kidneys to support detoxification; relieves insomnia; stretches groin, legs, spine and shoulders; and eases headaches.
Take a seat on the floor or even in bed with both legs extended forward. Draw the sole of your right foot to the left inner thigh. Sit tall, square your shoulders over the straight left leg and take a deep breath in. Exhale to gently fold forward over the left leg into a soft stretch toward your toes. Wonder where your cute heels ended up. Hold the posture for five to 10 breaths. Repeat on the opposite side.
Wind Relieving pose (Pavanamuktasana)
Benefits: Reduces digestive discomfort and supports detoxification by massaging stomach, pancreas and intestines; eases gas and related stomach pains; lets you lie on the floor.
Lie on your back. (Stay with me here less you become the drooling mouth breather.) Extend the left leg straight and hug the right knee to your chest. Lift your heavy head toward the right knee. Hold for five breaths. Make a mental note to blame the maid of honor for the 3 a.m. pit stop for chili cheese fries. Repeat on the opposite side.
Modified Standing Forward Fold (Uttanasana)
Benefits: Counters high heel-induced hamstring aches, improves digestion, activates liver and kidneys for detoxification, lessens fatigue, relieves headaches.
Slowly make your way to standing, and place feet hip distance apart. Interlock hands behind your back, and inhale. As you exhale, softly bend your knees and bend forward until your belly rests on your thighs. Reach your clasped hands overhead, and relax the head. Hold for five to 10 breaths; slowly release your hands and roll up to standing with the head coming up last. Send your roommate out for coconut water.
Chair pose with Prayer Twist (Utkatasana with Anjali mudra twist)
Benefits: detoxifies; stimulates digestive, lymph and circulatory systems; strengthens shaky legs.
From standing, step your feet together and bring your hands to a prayer position ("Please Lord let me find my car!") at your chest. Bend your knees as if sitting in a chair, taking thighs to parallel the floor as much as possible. Inhaling, lengthen the spine; exhaling, twist to your right. Hook the left elbow outside the right thigh, keeping knees aligned with each other. Spiral your chest up toward your thumbs and let your gaze follow. Hold for five breaths and repeat on the opposite side.
Child's pose (Balasana)
Nuff said. Rinse and repeat as wedding season demands. And the next time body shots, brides and brothers-in-law collide, you'll be prepared for the dreaded morning after.
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Photo Credit: China Fagan