July 20, 2012

Hair of the Down Dog: Yoga for Hangovers. ~ Eoin Finn


Next time you forget to say “when,” get on your mat to get over intoxication.

Would you ever recommend yoga to alleviate a mild a hangover?

Absolutely. I call it “Hair of the Down Dog.”

I’ve seen other yoga experts quoted on the detox benefits of the practice and suggesting that it could help with a hangover. Do you think there’s any “detox” benefit to be gained? If so, can you tell me how this works?

The detox benefits are massive. One of the most simple but powerful reasons for this is yogic breathing. The yogis knew that breathing in a long, slow and deep manner increases prana or “Life Force” which may have become depleted with all those stellar moves on the dance floor the night before. Scientifically speaking, the theory is that yogic breathing increases the metabolic rate which helps break the toxins down more quickly.

I wouldn’t recommend hot yoga for a hangover since dehydration is already a symptom of “margaritasana,” but the skin is a great organ to detox through so some sweat is good. A moderately paced class that isn’t too extreme should be the ticket. Remember, not too hot, not too intense. Moderation is key. The trick is to break the inertia and lethargy that a hangover causes so blood and oxygen can do their work in the cells.

Just remember to keep a little space from the people around you since the smell of vodka leaving the system through the breath and skin can violate the yogic principle of  ahimsaor causing no harm to others!

Is there one yoga pose in particular that you’d recommend?

I would recommend a twisting pose like Ardha Matsyendrasana since this acts like a massage on the liver and helps to process toxins. When you twist, the blood supply is temporarily limited to the liver. When you release the pose, more blood rushes in.

Do you have any cautions for people before they try this? Should we avoid intense activity if we’ve been sick to your stomach or have a severe headache, for example?

I would skip headstands which may feel more like “headachestands” with all the extra blood going to an already pounding cranium.

If you are sick, downward dog is a practical way to support yourself over your toilet!

Make sure you are sober enough to make it to a class! A simple test for gauging sobriety is the standing big toe pose: stand on one foot and hold one toe straight out in front of you. If you can’t balance, you’re still drunk, so go back to bed and head to a later class!



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Editor: ShaMecha Simms

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