Yoga for Headache and Migraine Relief
Ease stress, muscle tension and headache pain with these simple yoga moves.
Feel a headache coming on? It may be time to unroll your yoga mat.
Research consistently shows that yoga can help give headache and migraine sufferers some extra relief, making it a great supplement to their pain-fighting arsenal.1 For instance, in a recent study of migraine sufferers, those who added a five-day-a-week yoga practice to their migraine management plan felt more relief than those who stuck to conventional care. They also demonstrated decreased levels of physiological stress.1
After all, stress is a major contributor to both headache and migraine pain. According to the National Headache Foundation, tension-type headaches are the most common forms of headaches, typically associated with tightening of the muscles in the back of the neck and scalp.2 Meanwhile, migraine attacks often accompany times of stress.3 A single yoga session can sometimes be all it takes to reduce levels of stress.4 Because of this, yoga for headaches make a lot of sense!
“For most of us, there is just too much going on at once and our system, our body, and our mind get overwhelmed. It puts our nervous system on alert,” says certified yoga instructor Kelly Moore, co-founder of Mindfuel Wellness, which brings health and wellness initiatives to companies throughout Chicago. “Yoga is a great practice to reduce stress and relieve tension in the body, thereby relieving headaches.”
Bend This Way: 5 Best Yoga Poses for Headache Relief
Integrate these simple stress-busting yoga poses into your daily routine to prevent pain before it starts. Or, whenever you feel a headache creeping on, try taking a short yoga time out. If this is your first time practicing yoga, you may want to consult your doctor or healthcare professional.
When moving through these poses, it’s important to concentrate on continually taking full, deep diaphragmatic or “belly” breaths, according to Moore. With each breath, your stomach, rather than your chest and shoulders should move, indicating that you are getting the most oxygen with every breath as well as giving the too-tight muscles in your shoulders, neck, and upper back a needed break, she says. The result: Even more stress and headache relief.
Skipping your midday meal can set you up for head pain. Hunger has the ability to set off headaches, possibly because skipping meals can leave you with low blood sugar. If you’re really busy, consider making a daily calendar reminder for yourself for lunch so that the time gets automatically blocked off.
Now that you're more familiar with yoga for headaches, try these moves whenever you feel a headache coming on or integrate them into your regular yoga routine. Plus, if you're stuck at home more often right now, yoga is the perfect indoor exercise. These yoga poses for headache relief are easily performed inside and will help you de-stress. As you exercise, remember to keep hydrated and get enough sleep. Stay up to date with headache relief tips in the Excedrin headache prevention center.
- Kisan, Ravikiran, MU Sujan, Meghana Adoor, Raghavendra Rao, A. Nalini, Bindu M. Kutty, BT Chindanda Murthy, TR Raju, and TN Sathyaprabha. "Effect of Yoga on Migraine: A Comprehensive Study Using Clinical Profile and Cardiac Autonomic Functions." International Journal of Yoga. Medknow Publications & Media Pvt Ltd, 2014. Web. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4097897/.
- "Tension-Type Headache | National Headache Foundation." National Headache Foundation. N.p., 25 Oct. 2007. Web. http://www.headaches.org/2007/10/25/tension-type-headache/.
- "Common Triggers - The Migraine Trust." The Migraine Trust. N.p., n.d. Web. https://www.migrainetrust.org/about-migraine/trigger-factors/common-triggers/.
- Huang, Fu-Jung, Ding-Kuo Chien, and Ue-Lin Chung. "Effects of Hatha Yoga on Stress in Middle-Aged Women : Journal of Nursing Research." LWW. N.p., n.d. Web. http://journals.lww.com/jnr-twna/Abstract/2013/03000/Effects_of_Hatha_Yoga_on_Stress_in_Middle_Aged.9.aspx.
Tags: headache tips, headache prevention, exercise