Forget the hair of the dog! The downward dog could just cure your hangover this Christmas

Forget hair of the dog for the morning after the night before - go for downward dog!
Forget hair of the dog for the morning after the night before – go for downward dog!

By Grainne McCool @GrainneMcCool

YOGA is said to be good for a lot of things – relaxation, health, flexibility – and now it appears the downward dog and other such poses could be the perfect cure for the dreaded hangover.

We all know that feeling.  It’s that time of year again and inevitably we will indulge in a beverage or two.

But many of us, and in particular me, cannot abide the morning after the night before and the hellish feeling that follows a night on the town.

However, a cure could be just a step, a bend or a tree pose away…Ireland Today has been chatting to one of Donegal’s finest yoga teachers, who is convinced a hangover can be chased away with some time on the mat.

Fran Bell, from Fab Yoga in Muff, said that for those suffering a hangover – the perfect fix is to partake in the discipline – “bringing awareness to your breath – inhaling deeply, while lying in child’s pose with forehead rested.”

This, Fran says begins to alleviate symptoms, including headaches and the general nausea associated with a hangover.

“After a few minutes, then you can begin to practice,” Fran added.

The perfect pose for a hangover, Fran says is the “downward dog”.   “It’s an inversion-inverted pose,” she said.

“And any time the brain is lower than the heart, it receives fresh blood, hence calming the brain.

“Resting the forehead and smoothing the breath refines the nervous system thus calming the brain.

“Various twisting poses in yoga help massage the internal organs, particularly the liver, thus squeezing out the toxins.

“As the breath is a fundamental part of life and yoga and without it we die, it’s used to unite the body, mind and spirit.

Just breathe and get in to the core flow...and put that drink down!
Just breathe and get in to the core flow…and put that drink down!

Well, if yoga does all this…pass me another! No, in seriousness though – it is the time to be merry so inevitably we will have a tipple through the season and this tip could see us doing the downward dog, rather than the hair of the dog.

Our culture has instilled in us that drinking to excess is the norm, when we know deep down that it is very not the norm and nor is it right.

Even when it isn’t the festive season, we are making various excuses just why we must, simply must, get drunk.

A wedding day now consists of our social group congregating around a table, sipping wine, eating, talking, and dancing while the wine flows to excess.

And then the aftermath occurs the following morning.  And so the circle continues.

The Irish aren’t the only ones trying to find the eternal cure for our drinking though.

The first ‘hangover cure clinic’ has opened its doors in Sydney, Australia.

The clinic offers patients an intravenous (IV) drip alongside a cocktail of vitamins to help them get back to their feet.

But this cure is more expensive than a top class night on the tiles.  Prices start at €128-a-time – and this will get you only a half-hour dose of vitamins B and C, mixed with a hydration solution pumped into your veins.   An hour is €133 .  But surely this would be the financial hangover after the booze hangover!

Last weekend, I experienced a dreaded shouldn’t-have-had-that-last-drink-feeling. I was nauseous.

If it was down to just ‘winter blues’ or a passing bug, then maybe I would have dealt with it differently.  But no, my feelings were coming from having over indulged on wine the previous day at a wedding.

Experience tells me when in hangover mode, we are inclined to eat lots of sugary and fatty foots; drink lots of fizzy drink and reach for the  painkillers.

Hangover symptoms usually include pounding headaches, nausea, thirst, anxiety and more.   And if you aren’t a yogi, how can you keep these symptoms at bay?

Personally I try and drink as much water as possible, especially when at an all day function like a wedding.

This helps to keep my body hydrated.  Then it’s important that my body gets as much natural sleep as possible.

That might mean lying on until lunchtime the following day.

I follow this with a good walk and that all important first meal.  My hangover symptoms are usually well eased by this tried-and-tested routine.

Everyone deals with hangovers differently.  Everyone experiences symptoms to a different degree.  Everyone drinks differently.

It is well known that sticking to one drink is probably the best idea and mixing drinks, the worst possible plan.

I asked friends around my own age how they deal with a hangover, curious to know how others deal with the pain.

My pal Una from Scotland advised me that her best cure is a can of Irn Bru of all things and two paracetamol.

Gareth McLaughlin said his cure was:  “A big fry up and a bottle of anything fizzy and you’re good to go”.

Claire Diver said she handles the icky oh-no-not-again feeling with a “Lucozade and some food from the local deli”.

And Maria McColgan, a Muff fitness instructor advised Dioralyte before bed.

Peter Mullan suggested “two pints of water and a paracetamol before bed.  Never fails.”

The man in red has had enough!
The man in red has had enough!

And Aine McColgan said:  “Milk thistle-mix with water. Drink before and after your outing. Protects your liver – no hangover.”

So, now I am overloaded with advice and I might just be able to prevent or kill my next hangover.

But perhaps if sense prevailed, I and many others, would take on board the advice of my friends, Caroline and Tammy: “Don’t drink.”

That’s got to be the foolproof best advice of all! But hey, how much fun would that be at Christmas?!

I hope some of this advice has helped and hey, maybe I’ll see you down the yoga studio to make doubly sure.

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