The last thing we want to be worrying about during the holidays is bloating: It’s uncomfortable and can even add stress to your celebrations. Instead of worrying about it this year, though, we’re doing something about it.
While there are many systematic, proactive things we can do to avoid bloat (like taking a probiotic and eating more slowly) sometimes we need a quick, actionable fix when bloating strikes. Movement is one great strategy—yoga and Pilates, in particular, are perfect for when you need a quick and approachable routine.
Here, trainers and instructors share their go-to poses and exercises that can help prevent bloat from disrupting your celebrations:
1. The quadruped
“The quadruped is my favorite exercise to help de-bloat!” says Pilates and registered yoga teacher Manuela Sanchez. “Not only does this exercise improve core control, but it also challenges your crossover stability and shoulder stability. Plus, it can be modified for all levels.”
- Start on your hands and knees on your mat (on all fours) with your knees planted directly under your hips.
- Round your back in a “C” curve, looking in toward your belly. Keep your shoulders and hips even throughout the exercise and your spine in neutral.
- Arch your back by dropping your belly down. Then lift your head and chest forward and up.
- Continue for five to eight reps.
Modification: To progress this exercise, extend your right leg straight back while remaining in quadruped position. As you round your back, pull the right knee into your chest; as you arch your back, extend the opposite leg straight behind you. After five to eight reps, repeat this flow on the other side.
2. Supported seated forward fold
“It’s long been known that forward folds support circulation through the abdominal organs and can even stimulate our digestion and metabolism,” explains registered yoga teacher Ava Johanna. “After a big meal, taking a bolster (aka a long, cylindrical pillow) to rest your stomach on supports your breath and gently compresses and massages your abdominal organs.”
- Grab a bolster or roll up a towel and pillow to place on top of your thighs. (Note: The firmer the pillow, the better to support in the gentle stomach massage.)
- Extend your legs straight, and flex your toes back toward the face.
- Fold your torso over the pillow or bolster, and begin taking deep breaths into the belly and lower abdomen.
- Hold here for as many breaths as you need to experience relief.
3. Plank with Pilates ball
“This restorative move may be beneficial for your gut because the ball is placed in your pelvic region and massages the digestive tract,” shares Lia Bartha, a Pilates instructor. “By moving forward and back, the ball rolls up to your stomach and back down to your pelvic floor, targeting the gut.”
- Start in a forearm plank position, with your shoulders stacked over your elbows.
- Place a Pilates ball underneath your stomach. Allow your stomach to rest on the ball.
- Hold this position, or move your body forward and back, to roll the ball along your stomach.
4. Camel pose
“This pose increases blood circulation throughout your entire body, including to your digestion,” explains registered yoga teacher Claire Grieve. “This helps to get things moving through your system.”
- Starting on your knees, place your hands on your hips, and extend your heart to the sky.
- In the full expression, your hands will reach your heels.
Along with these poses, there’s one other crucial component to preventing bloat: drinking water. “Skip the bubbles and booze—at least in the short term. It may sound counterintuitive, but staying hydrated discourages water retention because your body isn’t struggling to hold on to the water it has,” explains Jessica Cording, M.S., R.D., CDN. Hopefully, with a little care, you can avoid disruptive bloat this year.