Yoga for Headache

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Everyone suffers from headaches from time to time but the question is how do we deal with it. Yoga can help enormously with this problem and there are several poses you should know if you want to do something about your headache problem. Here is a list of some of the yoga poses that may help and some of the challenges that you might face.

A headache is a build-up of tension at the very top of your head that can be alleviated by the release of muscle tension from that region. Beyond giving yourself a nice head massage with your fingers, there are a number of options available to the yoga practitioner. Make sure to breathe deeply in and out in a very slow and deliberate fashion when executing these poses. The main goal of these asanas is to release tension from your neck and shoulders and get the blood flowing freely through your head. 

By focusing on the neck we can remove a lot of tension from our heads because it is often the cause of our headaches. We can directly target neck tension by executing the Seated Neck Pose. We start by sitting up straight. You then place your hand on the opposite side of your head and gently pull your head sideways to about 45 degrees. Repeat on the other side. Remember to do this gently and hold the pose until you feel the tension going away. The great thing about this exercise is that you can do it anywhere and it won’t cost you a cent.

Now for the poses that do require some space. The Viparita Karani allows the blood to flow into the head by using gravity. With arms outstretched and your back lying on the mat, assume a position where you can place your legs on the wall with your legs straight and together with your buttocks resting right up against the wall.  Hold this pose for approximately 10 minutes and you should be much better than before. Your jaw should be totally free of tension as you execute this pose. As always, concentrate on breathing deeply and slowly and feel the tension disappear.

 The Adho Mukha Svanasana or Downward Facing Dog pose is a much athletic pose but it can have benefits because the head and neck regions are relaxed because they’re not doing any work while you’re in the position. This is one of the most iconic asanas in all of yoga. Start by kneeling on the mat and with your arms outstretched in front of you with the palms of your hand lying on the mat as well. Then push up with your legs and hips until your legs are straight and your body forms an inverted V shape while supporting your weight with your arms as well. Just let your head hang down and let it completely relax and hold the pose with deep and calm breathing for about 30 seconds at a time. You’ll find this pose is popular for a reason and that is because it works.

Sometimes we suffer from back pain that then shows up as a headache and the next pose can deal with that. Known as the Happy Baby Pose this pose starts by lying on your back on the mat. Bring your knees up and then hold your ankles with your hands. Naturally, you should allow your knees to rest at about a 45-degree angle beside your torso because not all of us are super flexible. This is an advanced pose so not everyone will succeed the first time they try it. You can hold the pose for about 10 minutes and it will allow the blood to flow gently to your head.

The Uttanasana is a standing forward bend and it’s regarded as one of the best ways to deal with headache pain. The feet should be shoulder-width apart and then you should bend over as far as possible. You can then hold the pose by holding your legs around your knees. At this stage, your face should be opposite your knees if you’re flexible enough. By relaxing your head and shoulders you should achieve a feeling of complete relaxation in this area.

Probably the easiest pose in all of yoga is the corpse pose. All you have to do is lie on the mat with arms and legs comfortably stretched out. That is the easy part. The difficulty comes when you try to achieve total relaxation of the mind and body and this can be achieved by concentrating exclusively on your breathing. Just and breathe deeply as you can and then exhale deeply and slowly. Within a few minutes, you should achieve a far more relaxed state and your headache should slowly be going away.

The Extended Puppy Pose or Uttana Shishosana is a relatively pose that allows you to release tension from your head and neck. Start on your knees and then place your arms in front of you with the palms of your hand on the mat. Bend over at the hips so far that your head can drop drow with the top of the head nearly making contact with the mat. This pose should be held for about 30 seconds and it is a great transition pose as well.

Yoga is a great way to relieve headaches but there are many other benefits that can come from being a regular yoga practitioner as well. The main benefit is the state of mind that is calm, relaxed, and in control so that you’re able to prevent headaches from developing in the first place. Headaches are often a symptom of the mental stress that we suffer and the only person who can stress us is ourselves. It’s the way we choose to react that causes the problem. By developing the mental attributes that deal with stress in a positive fashion we can enhance our quality of life to the extent where we suffer from headaches much more rarely and then when we do encounter them then we’re in a much better position to deal with them.

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As always, please conduct your own research but there are certainly a number of good options that yoga can offer. Be aware that they encompass both the physical and mental elements that we inhabit. A myriad of solutions awaits that are just waiting to be harnessed by you, no matter if they’re as aggravating as a persistent headache.

Nick Hanlon

I'm an Aussie interested in topical issues.

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