Wwhenever you have no appetite for counting with a terrible headache, you will probably look almost anywhere for relief. A place you may not have thought of? The yoga mat.
Yoga can have profound physiological and psychological effects. “Yoga brings together the mind, body and mind,” says Arielle Martone, DPT, NCS, physiotherapist, certified yoga teacher and owner of Find Your Way Mama. Rooted in Hinduism, the practice consists of eight pillars, including natural posture (asana), meditation (dhyana), and breathing (pranayama). “Everyone can have a positive impact on themselves (brain and body) and that can be enhanced when we work together,” says Martone.
Therefore, it is not surprising that there have been several studies demonstrating the effectiveness of yoga for headaches and migraines as an adjunct to medical treatment.
Martone explains that asanas – the postures in which you move in a flow of yoga – build strength and improve balance, flexibility, circulation and body awareness or susceptibility. “The physical aspects of yoga are no different from any other workout. “You can get this ‘runner’s high’ after training, due to the flooding of the brain with dopamine and serotonin, both of which can improve mood,” he shares. Asanas can also help correct muscle imbalances and reduce muscle tension.
Conscious meditation can help reconnect the brain through neuroplasticity. “Through meditation, one can make the brain less sensitive to pain, reduce stress and improve acceptance,” says Martone.
Meanwhile, focusing on pranayama can help reduce stress and anxiety by regulating your heart rate and bringing you back to the present moment and back to your body. Martone says this type of breathing also improves the body’s oxygenation and can relieve pain.
So how do you combine all three in yoga for headaches and migraines?
First, figure out what kind of headache you have
Martone says there are several different types of headaches and the final impact of practicing yoga may depend on the type you have.
The first important distinction is between primary and secondary headaches. With a primary headache, the headache itself is the main problem. Instead, a secondary headache is the result of another medical condition, such as a brain injury or vaginal infection, which is what you should aim for to find relief.
Martone says there are three common types of primary headaches – tension headaches, migraines and complexes – that differ in cause and effect.
Tension headaches are the mildest of the group, but can still be very uncomfortable, he says. “They are often described as dull and aching or throbbing along or around the head. They are often accompanied by muscular tenderness in the head, neck and shoulders.
Migraine headaches are usually on one side of the face and are described as throbbing and severe. “They are often accompanied by increased sensitivity to light, sound and smells. “Some migraines will have an aura before the pain,” Martone explains. The aura experience can vary greatly between different people – it could be visual disturbances or tingling sensations – but it will usually be consistent for that person.
The least common and most severe type of primary headache is cumulative headache. “Flocks are often a more accurate location – often close to the eye and can be accompanied by drooping eyes and tears,” says Martone.
How to use yoga for headaches and migraines
Martone says it is best to do yoga regularly if you want to reduce the frequency of migraines or other headaches. When you have acute symptoms, it is not the time to do a painful yoga class full of powerful asanas. Instead, focus on meditation and breathing, while incorporating some gentle recovery postures. Martone described some asanas that can help you find relief by focusing on your chest, neck and shoulders.
Breast opening warm-up
Martone says yoga postures that open the heart like this movement are believed to stimulate the pneumogastric nerve, which can be helpful in managing headaches.
- Sit in a comfortable position, holding a strap or yoga belt with your thumbs up and your arms as open as possible.
- Inhale, slowly raising your arms.
- Exhale, slowly lowering your arms behind you (your arms will widen as they move behind you). Keep your thumbs up all the time.
- Continue to raise your arms with each inhalation and lower them as you exhale, alternating in front of and behind your body.
- Perform 10 repetitions.
Eagle wings (Garudasana)
Martone says this posture stretches your back and shoulders.
- Sit with your legs crossed, arms crossed at the elbows and then wrapped around each other so that the palms can be pressed together.
- Raise your elbows to shoulder height and then slowly push your arms away from your face to deepen the stretch.
- Hold for 20 to 30 seconds.
Facial pose with sitting cow (Gomukhasana)
Martone says this is a great yoga pose to open your chest and shoulders, which can reduce the tension that can lead upwards and manifest as a headache.
- Sit upright with your legs crossed at the knees: Your left foot should be on the outside of your right hip, while your right foot should be on the outside of your left hip, with your right knee stacked above your left knee.
- Bring your two hands together behind your back, sliding your right hand under your armpit and then behind your chest with your fingers reaching up and bending your left hand up and over your shoulder. behind you with your fingers pointing down.
- Bend your fingers and open your chest to the stretch. If your hands can not reach each other, hold a towel or strap between them.
- Repeat on the other side.
Fish pose (Matsyasana)
Martone says that if you have an active headache, you can use blocks and boosters to support your back and keep your head above your heart in this posture that opens your heart.
- Lie on your back, with your knees bent, your feet on the floor, your arms along your body, with your palms facing down.
- Lift your hips and slide your hands under the top of your buttocks, where it meets your lower back.
- Inhale, lifting your chest off the ground and bending your head back, pressing your elbows and shoulders.
- Hold for five breaths.
The Lion Pose (Simhasana)
Combining asana and pranayama, Martone says this posture, practiced with the lion’s breath, helps reduce tension on the face.
- Kneel on the floor with your hips on your heels, palms on the floor.
- Exhale, curving backwards with your mouth wide open, your tongue out and make a “roaring” sound.
Supported child pose
This yoga posture can be used to relieve headaches if you use a pillow or brace to keep your head above your heart.
- Kneel with a reinforcement in front of you, big toes together, knees wide.
- Sit comfortably on your heels and rest your stomach, chest and head on the support in front of you. Your arms should be outstretched in front of you as far as they can go.
- Focus on deep breathing, aiming to exhale more than you inhale, which stimulates your pneumogastric nerve. Try an inhalation of 4 to 6 measurements and an exhalation of 6 to 8 measurements.
Cobra pose (Bhujangasana)
Martone says this is essentially a gentle or heart-opening posture that can relieve headaches.
- Life muzzle with legs outstretched behind you, big toes touching.
- Place your hands just outside your lower back with your palms on the ground and your fingers pointing forward.
- Inhale, lifting your head and chest using the muscles in your back. You should feel a good stretch in the front of your chest.
- Hold for 30 seconds.
Gentle spinal torsion (Supta Matsyendrasana)
Martone says this asana stretches your neck and back. To relieve the headache, suggest placing a small yoga ball or lacrosse ball under your insole (the back of the head near the base of the skull) when turning your head from side to side. “This will act as a massage to reduce tension in the subclavian muscles,” he says.
- Lie on your back with your arms outstretched like a “T”.
- Bend your knees so that your feet are flat on the floor.
- Slowly lower your knees to one side. You can place your hand on this side above your knees to apply more stretching or you can put on a yoga block or strengthen below your knees for less stretching.
- Turn your head to the opposite side (towards the outstretched hand).
- Hold for 5 to 10 breaths and then change sides.
A consistent yoga practice can be a wonderful non-pharmacological addition to the treatment for chronic headaches. However, Martone says that if the pain is persistent or disrupts your daily life, you should always visit your doctor to discuss treatment and treatment.
Oh Hello! You look like someone who loves free workouts, discounts on modern wellness brands and exclusive Well + Good content. Subscribe to Well +our online wellness community and unlock your rewards right away.