Everyone's been there. The sun shining through the cracks in your blinds is always blindingly bright. Your eyes burn holes behind your eyelids as you try to fool yourself into thinking that you can go back to sleep. Your mouth is so dry you assume you must be dying, but the thought of getting up from your bed to refill your water cup is worse than the thirst, so you don't move. Your muscles ache underneath your overly hot skin, and you notice a few bruises that definitely weren't there yesterday. Your floor is littered with the remnants of last-night's taco bell excursion, and the stale mexican scent fills your overly-sensitive nostrils. Yup, you might vomit.
Oh, the joys of the hangover - those desperate Sunday mornings we all love to hate, filled with greasy food, dark rooms, and that token annoying friend who calls way too early with a disgustingly cheery "Hi!" before she tells you, "I'm just on my way to the gym, but wanna get brunch after?" "Ummm, no," you mumble before hanging up on her and her ridiculous gym idea. Exercise? In this state? You dismiss it as early-onset dimensia, and bury your aching head back under your pillow.
But, nevertheless, those crazy hangover-exercising people do exist - maybe you're even one of them. I, for one, have never understood the concept. They always assure me that it actually helps the hangover, sweating out the alcohol or some other crap like that. I don't buy it. I'm a very strict believer in giving the body what it wants, and my hungover body wants nothing more than to stay horizontal for as long as humanly possible. So, sorry, maybe next time.
I have tried it though. Once, and never again. It was senior year (high school) spring break, and my friends and I were at an all-inclusive hotel in Playa Del Carmen. If you didn't already know, the best part about the term, "all-inclusive" is the free booze. So, I'm not sure why I agreed to accompany my friend's parents to "Sunrise Yoga." Sunrise anything would have been a bad idea that week, unless it had tequila in the name, but sunrise yoga? Definitely a bad idea. I must have still drunk when I woke up - that tricky hangover hadn't quite sunk its teeth in yet, and I was delusional enough to believe that the residual alcohol in my system wouldn't affect my ability to participate in a physical activity including large amounts of balancing and inversions. Needless to say, I spent most of that class in child's pose. So, maybe it works for other people, but for me, I know without a doubt, that "sweating out the alcohol" is not a suitable cure for my hangovers.
BUT, I have found other less-typical suitable yoga practices to aid my weekend ailments that I'm sure can help you too...
1. Savasana. Easily the best part of a yoga class, an extra long Savasana is just what the hangover doctor ordered. Firstly, it's great because it requires the body to be horizontal (which is exactly what I want to be anyway). And on top of that, all you have to do is focus on relaxing your body and breathing. I highly recommend investing in an eye pillow. They are always just the right amount of pressure and perfect for blocking out those blinding morning sun rays. And for some reason, lying on the floor helps alleviate that horrible rocking sensation the worst hangovers tend to entail.
2. Meditation. Calming the mind when your body is screaming is an incredibly soothing activity. Though, most people find meditation works best when you're sitting, I find no reason that this can't also be done in the horizontal position. I like to put my legs up the wall as a nice and extremely gentle inversion. But, if prefer sitting, make sure you sit on the edge of a cushion. Either way, just close your eyes and focus on your breath - in and out. in and out. in and out.
3. Child's Pose. I mentioned previously that I spent my entire drunk/hungover yoga class in this deliciously peaceful pose, and for good reason. This one yoga pose simultaneously comforts both of the biggest trouble spots (head and tummy) in any hangover. Resting your forehead on your cool and soft yoga mat is the perfect way to naturally calm any pounding headache. And it doesn't hurt that being face down probably shields your eyes a little better from that pesky sun. Plus, the gentle compression of your tummy and chest muscles is one of the best ways to help digestion along, while bringing your awareness back to your breath. Mmm just the thought of child's pose makes me wish I was in it right now. Actually... why not?
4. Gentle Stretching. Getting the blood flowing is always a good idea, and if you can't quite make it to the treadmill (psh), a little gentle stretching is the perfect substitute. Now, I'm not saying you'll burn the same number of calories, but you probably won't pass out from dehydration either. Just move in whatever ways feel good to your body. Hamstrings need a little extra love from dancing all night? Forward folds are wonderful. Take a second to simply notice how your body is feeling (besides the initial "horrible"). Take stock of all the slight tensions and tightness and work those out. Roll your neck, shoulders, wrists, ankles - get loose. You'll be surprised how easily your body tells you what to do next.
5. Savasana. Did I say that already? Do it again.
Say it with me - YOGA DOES NOT HAVE TO BE HOT OR SCULPTING TO FEEL GOOD. And feeling good is what it's all about.