It’s the first Monday of the month and that means it’s time to Ask a Yogini. Each month, I’ll answer a question about yoga – anything that you’re curious about. Chances are, if you have the question, someone else does too!
Disclaimer: While I am a certified yoga instructor, I am not your yoga instructor. Please exercise caution and honor your own body. These views are mine alone, based on my own experiences. Always consult a certified yoga instructor for additional guidance and assistance.
When you feel a headache coming on, what can you do besides running to the medicine cabinet? Head to your yoga mat of course!
We all know that yoga is a great way to relieve tension and stress in the body. And, many headaches can be the result of tension and stress in the body. In fact, yoga has been shown to reduce the symptoms and frequency of migraines.
These yoga poses for headaches target the areas of the body that often are tight and tense, thus providing relief for your pounding head. They also help increase blood flow and oxygen to the brain.
6 Yoga Poses for Headaches
I pretty much retreat to this pose as a first line of defense. Child’s pose helps calm the mind and release tension in the back, neck and shoulders which can often lead to headaches.
Bend your knees and sit your hips back on your heels. Bring your big toe mounds together and you can either keep your knees together or take your knees wide. With your knees wide, your legs will support your torso. Extend your hands in front of you on the mat or bring your hands behind you to clasp your heels. Melt your forehead into the mat and let the mat support your body. Breathe.
Seated Forward Fold or Paschimottanasana is a great yoga pose for headaches. Generally, forward folds calm your nervous system – something that we need to do when we have a headache.
Sit on your mat with your legs extended in front of your. Flex your feet and draw your toes towards your face. Inhale and raise your arms overhead. Exhale and fold over at the waist. Let your arms fall and rest either on your feet, your shins or on the floor. Do not force yourself into this pose. Press your thighbones into the floor and relax into the pose.
Just like the seated forward fold, a standing forward fold will also calm your nervous system and reduce some of the symptoms of headaches. There are a number of different arm variations that you can take – arms extended to the floor or clasp opposite elbows.
Lately, I’ve been digging this version with neck traction. Stand with your feet hip width apart and fold over at the waist. Keep a slight bend in your knee. Clasp your hands and bring them to the base of your skull and draw your elbows towards the floor. Your hands should provide a big of traction on your spine and neck to help relieve some tension there.
Many of my headaches stem from tense neck muscles. So this isn’t “technically” a yoga pose, but it is a great stretch for your neck and helps to eliminate some of the tension there.
Come to a comfortable seat. Bring your right hand over to the left side of your head and getting let your head fall to the right. Your left hand can come to the floor outside of your left hip. Breathe here for five to ten breaths. Switch sides.
If my headache isn’t caused by tension in my neck, then it’s likely caused by tension in my upper back and shoulders. Thanks to working in front of a computer most of the day, I can build up some nice big knots in these areas. Eagle pose is a fantastic stretch for your upper back and fantastic yoga pose for headaches.
In this variation, you will only be doing eagle arms. Come to a comfortable seat on your mat. Extend your left arm in front of you. Bend your elbow so that your arm makes a 90 degree angle and your forearm is perpendicular to the floor. Take your right arm and wrap it under and around your left arm. It should like like a vine wrapped around a branch. Press your palms or the backs of your hands together. Move your elbows forward and up – so that you are creating space between your sternum (breastbone) and your elbows. Breathe for five to ten breaths. Switch sides.
Ahhhh, legs-up-the-wall. This is a fantastic pose and a gentle inversion. It helps to reverse the blood flow in your body and brings more blood towards your brain.
Come on to your side next to a wall. Bring your hips as close to the wall as possible and extend your legs up. You can rest your arms anyway that is comfortable. Stay here as long as your comfortable. You can also take a bolster or a blanket underneath your hips to elevate your hips a little.
What’s your favorite yoga pose for headaches? Do you have any yoga-related questions?
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In the meantime, check out these other yoga-related posts:
- 8 benefits of yoga inversions
- 3 ways to use yoga blocks
- How to Incorporate Yoga into Your Daily Life
- Yoga for Runners Series
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