A lot of people suffer from headaches and migraines. Yoga can help relieve that kind of pain. Yoga is a great way to reduce stress and release tension in the neck and shoulders which will relax the muscles around the head, face, eyes, jaw, and neck that are causing the headache or migraine. Today we will talk about Yoga Asanas that are effective when it comes to relieving headaches. But first, let us talk about why headaches occur in the first place.
Why headaches and migraine happen
Headaches can happen for a number of reasons that include lack of sleep, stress, noise pollution, or an incorrect eyeglass prescription. It may or may not have causes that are due to an underlying disease. Behind the scenes, there's an ache in the nerves, blood vessels, and muscles that cover a person’s head and neck. Sometimes these muscles or blood vessels can tighten up stimulating or putting pressure on the surrounding nerve which causes headaches.
Migraines are an extremely painful headache disorder. The symptoms produced by migraines are more intense and exhausting than ordinary headaches. The sufferer of migraine may also experience additional symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and noise.
It should be noted that some migraines do not cause head pain. Silent migraines can occur when one has “aura” symptoms without a headache. "Aura" are symptoms or sensations such as flashing lights or zig-zag lines that may precede a migraine headache. Migraine aura in itself is not dangerous. But migraine aura sometimes looks and feels like other serious conditions such as a stroke.
What Yoga can do for Headaches
Stress, lack of sleep, and poor posture are some of the common triggers that cause headaches. We have already discussed in this blog before, how yoga can help one get better sleep, relieve stress, and improve body posture. These are some of the indirect ways in which practicing yoga asanas can help one prevent headaches. Yoga has been shown in studies to be effective for easing headaches and migraines. Migraines are associated with disturbances in the autonomic nervous system and in the regulation of the circulatory system. Yoga improves cardiac autonomic balance which reduces the likelihood of migraines. There are several poses that can help reduce tension in the neck and shoulders which may lead to a headache or migraine. But we must be careful, as performing yoga poses incorrectly may also result in headaches or neck pain. We also have a blogpost about common yoga injuries and how to avoid them.
Yoga Poses for Headaches
1. Balasana (Child’s Pose)
Balasana or Child’s pose is a very relaxing asana. All we have to do is begin by sitting in Vajrasana, keeping our buttocks on heels, and lean forward resting the forehead on the floor. It flexes the body’s internal and keeps them supple. It relieves neck and lower back pain. It also relieves stress and can make one feel comfortable when feeling heavy in the head.
2.Hastapadasana (Standing forward bend pose)
Standing Forward Bend is an inversion stretch that rejuvenates the whole body, improves blood flow, protects sinuses, and is good at relieving cough and congestion symptoms. It reduces fatigue, calms the mind, and soothes the nerves. It also relieves tension in the spine, neck, and back.
To perform this asana start by standing in mountain pose, moving the torso forward from the hips while exhaling, continue to bend till the hands touch the feet. Finally, place the palm of the hands-on the sides of the feet. Stay in this position for 5-10 breaths.
3. Setu Bandhasana (Bridge Pose)
Setu Bandhasana is one of the basic back-bend poses which will prepare for advanced back-bend type asanas as one gets more flexible. It calms the brain and the central nervous system. It helps alleviate stress, mild depression and also improves the circulation of blood.
4. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward facing dog)
Downward-facing Dog Pose is an inversion asana, often practiced as a part of the Surya Namaskar (Salute to the Sun) which is a sequence of twelve gracefully linked asanas. It stimulates the blood flow to the brain and improves body posture.
5. Shavasana (Corpse pose)
Shavasana or corpse pose is an asana usually used for relaxation at the end of a yoga session. It’s the simplest yoga asana but not very easy to do, as it requires one to totally let go and relax. It calms the nervous system and reduces stress, anxiety, and headache.
To learn these asanas from an expert teacher and practice yoga with the aim to prevent headaches and migraines, don't forget to take a look at our schedule for live yoga classes and join in!