Yoga for Migraine: Learn How to Cure Unwanted Headaches with Yoga

Yoga for Migraine: Learn How to Cure Unwanted Headaches with Yoga

If you are among the people who suffer from migraines or other types of headaches, you are required to take care of the matter and should consult with your doctor when you feel they are getting severe. However, apart from the standard medicines for pain relief, there are certain types of exercises that can help you get rid of these headaches and live a healthy life.

While suffering from headaches, including migraines,  yoga is one of the best activities that you can do for pain relief.

In this post, you will learn what causes headaches or migraines and how yoga stretches are effective for pain relief. Here you will also learn about effective yoga poses to deal with your headache or migraine on your own, alongside the standard medicines.

1. How Does Yoga Work For Headaches Or Migraines?

Yoga is a multipurpose activity that has a lot more benefits than any other home workout . There are several yoga poses that are helpful for dealing with headaches and migraines, besides other benefits. Yoga add peace and calmness to your mind and body and supports you in dealing with disturbing elements like pain, anxiety, and depression.

Basically, yoga activates the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) to play a role in slowing the heart rate and lowering blood pressure. However, migraines are not like common headaches and are characterized by throbbing pain on one side of the head. Migraine is commonly accompanied by dizziness, light sensitivity, and nausea, and it can last anywhere from four to 72 hours.

To deal with migraines, yoga is not just a holistic approach but also a proactive one as it helps in reducing pain.

According to a 2014 study, yoga reduces the frequency and intensity of pain in comparison to sticking to the medicinal treatment alone. The participants of this study also experienced an improvement in the amount of activity in their PNS.

Yoga is not just beneficial for dealing with the symptoms of migraines or other headaches; it also helps you make your muscles and body flexible for different physical activities and martial arts like jiu-jitsu , MMA , boxing , etc.

Yoga also improves cardiac autonomic balance. Any disturbances in the autonomic nervous system or in the regulation of the circulatory system can be a root cause of migraines. With the help of yoga, you can improve this balance and will consequently be able to reduce the occurrence of migraines. 

2. Can I Do Yoga With A Headache Or Migraine?

According to the director of PranaVayu Yoga in Boston, David Magone, while suffering from severe attacks of headache, it would not be wise enough to go for yoga exercises that include strenuous activities.

It would be wise to avoid intense and active practices and skip power yoga classes to avoid getting your symptoms worsened. However, you can opt for restorative yoga poses.

Specifically, if you do not want to leave home with a headache or migraine, you can practice yoga exercises that are floor-based, such as reclining twists, hip openers, and relaxing forward folds.

3. Can Hot Yoga Make Migraines Or Headaches Worse?

Hot yoga, also known as Bikram Yoga, is not very ideal for migraineurs and can lead to multiple severe side effects. But, it mainly depends on the nature of the body for every individual.

If your body is exposed to heat, you should not try hot yoga. It might lead you to severe trouble by triggering migraines. Hot yoga can also cause dehydration for people with heat issues, which can also cause headaches.

4. What Are The Best Yoga Poses For Migraines And Headaches?

Here are some of the most effective yoga poses that you can practice for dealing with migraines and all other types of headaches. Doing them right will not only help you reduce the pain, but will also help you minimize the occurrence of these headaches.

4.1. Happy Baby Pose (Ananda Balasana)

Many times, it has been seen that headaches stem from pain in the hips, back, and torso. To reduce the chances of such an occurrence, performing happy baby poses can work. However, if you are suffering from a knee or neck injury, you should avoid doing this yoga pose.

Level: Beginner

How to Do?

  1. Start by lying on your back. While inhaling, bend your knees toward your belly.
  2. Bring your arms inside of your knees and hold on to the outer edge of your feet with your hands. You can also take advantage of yoga straps or yoga belts for that purpose.
  3. Now open your knees a little wider than your torso and bring them upwards to your armpits.
  4. While doing so, you should position your ankles over your knees to make your shins perpendicular to the ground. Now flex your feet and gently push them up to your hands when you pull your hands to create resistance.
  5. Stay there for 4 to 8 breaths and then exhale and release your arms and legs to get back into the starting position.

4.2. Rabbit Pose (Sasangasana)

Rabbit pose is beneficial for lowering the tension in the neck muscles that also leads to headaches or migraines. It also stretches the back, shoulders, arms, and lengthens the spine while stimulating the endocrine and immune systems.

Level: Intermediate

How to Do?

  1. Get into the child asana position, then hold onto your heels with your hands and bring your head towards the knees while keeping the top of your head on the floor.
  2. Hold your heels tightly, inhale while lifting your hips up. Now roll onto the crown of your head while pressing your forehead as close as possible to your knees.
  3. Stay in this position for 4 to 8 breaths.
  4. Now exhale and lower your hips slowly to your knees and bring your head back to get into the starting position.

4.3. Corpse Pose

Another beneficial yoga pose to deal with headaches and migraines is the restorative corpse pose. In this pose, your body becomes entirely relaxed and supported by the floor. It also accompanies deep breathing, which helps in increasing the oxygen supply to your brain and consequently reduces migraine.

Level: Beginner

How To Do?

  1. You should start by laying on your back while keeping your legs out long and your arms down on your sides with palms facing up.
  2. Now relax each muscle in your body and close your eyes.
  3. In this position, let your breathing deepen and remain in this pose for 2 to 5 minutes.

4.4. Legs Up The Wall Pose

When you put your legs up the wall, it not only relaxes your neck muscles but also helps to ease the throbbing headache in a very short time. This pose is also effective for increasing blood and oxygen flow to the brain, which always helps lessen the severity of your headaches.

Level: Beginner 

How To Do?

  • Start by sitting closer to the wall with your right hip touching it.
  • Now, lean back and lie on your back on the mat while extending your legs up the wall. While doing so, make sure that your butts are almost touching the wall and your legs are relaxed and placed together against the wall.
  • In this position, it depends on you whether you want to place your hands on your belly or on the mat.
  • Now close your eyes while relaxing your jaw and dropping your chin.
  • Remain in this posture for 3 to 10 minutes with deep and slow breaths.

4.5. Ragdoll Pose

The ragdoll pose is also known as the forward fold. This posture is beneficial for releasing tension from the neck and spine. A gentle hug from the gravity in this pose also helps in reducing the pain of your headaches and migraines.

Level: Beginner 

How To Do?

  • Start in a standing position with your feet hip-width apart and hinge yourself down from your hips, releasing the crown of your head.
  • Now let your neck and head hang heavy while keeping your palms down on the mat or reaching for the opposite elbows.
  • If you feel any sort of strain on your hamstrings or lower back, you can make a slight bend in your knees.
  • Remain in this pose for six to eight breaths.

5. Summary

Certain types of headaches have treatments, but migraines do not. However, there are things that you can do to avoid the triggers and improve their symptoms. Yoga is one of the best ways in this respect.

Gentle yoga poses like the above-described ones are best as they encourage relaxation for the neck and head while strengthening the shoulder area. Using yoga to deal with migraines in accordance with medical advice can produce even better results.

So, what are you waiting for? Get in your yoga clothes , and start practicing these incredibly beneficial yoga poses to reduce the tension and minimize the chances of migraines or other headaches.

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