Nothing can ruin your day (or night) like a headache. I know for me, headaches make me want to curl up in a ball on my bed and pull the covers over my head, shutting out the world and hoping tomorrow will be better. Ayurveda, as per usual, has a better way to help us feel better. We know Ayurveda is the study of life, but I like to think of it as the study of making life better. Here are a few of the things Ayurveda teaches us about headaches.
Ayurveda For Headaches: Types of Headaches
Not every headache is the same. Just like some are pounding and intense, others are lighter but leave us more sensitive to stimuli. Different kinds of headaches likely have different causes and, therefore, different remedies. Here are some of the different types of headaches.
A Vata-type headache is a dull, throbbing, almost pulsating pain, usually called a tension headache. It is often located between the eyebrows or around the temples. With Vata headaches, you may also feel the tension in your neck or shoulders. This kind of headache is usually caused by stress or a lack of sleep, and sometimes both.
Treating a Vata Headache
To help treat a Vata headache, drink warm water or tea, use Nasya oil, put calming essential oils on your temples, and take a nap.
Preventing Vata Headaches
Here are a few other things that can help prevent Vata headaches:
- Practice regular self-care
- Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated
- Stick to a sleep schedule
- Eat 3 meals a day, no skipping!
- Make time during your day for self-massage and other mental breaks
- Work slow, restorative yoga poses into your daily practice
- Eat warm, cooked, wet foods like soup and avoid cold, dry foods like crackers or cereal.
- Favor sweet and salty foods over spicy foods.
- Use peppermint or lavender essential oils in a diffuser.
Yoga For Vata Headaches
Focus on yoga poses that will help balance all that cold Vata.
- Warrior II: this pose is excellent for grounding and creates heat in the lower body.
- Standing or Seated Forward Bend: these poses calm the frenzied Vata movement in our nervous systems. Lean into these forward folds slowly and gently.
- Supine Spinal Twist: this pose stimulates the internal organs and helps aid in digestion. It also helps calm anxiety and stress.
No headache feels good, but Pitta headaches are a real doozy. These headaches are shooting, burning, piercing pain, often in a centralized location, and are often migraines. Pitta headaches are often accompanied by sensitivity to light and even nausea.
Treating a Pitta Headache
To help a fiery Pitta headache, you need cooling foods like cucumber and cilantro. Other treatments for Pitta headaches are coconut oil massages and resting in the dark with a cool towel over your eyes.
Preventing a Pitta Headache
Here are some of the best ways to avoid a Pitta migraine headache in the first place:
- Drink cool water (but no ice)
- Meditate with slow, deep breaths
- Incorporate plenty of yoga poses that involve sitting or lying down, especially seated twists and forward bends.
Yoga For Pitta Headaches
Here are some yoga poses for balancing your Pitta:
- Child’s Pose: cooling and calming, excellent for fiery Pitta.
- Cat-Cow Pose: when Pitta is out of balance, fire congregates in your belly. Get that fire moving to distribute, balanced, throughout your body.
- Bridge Pose: a cooling posture to spread your belly fire into your pelvis, hips, legs, and feet.
- Shoulder Stand: an inversion pose great for cooling. It also calms an agitated Pitta mind. If you aren’t comfortable with a shoulder stand pose, try a legs-up-the-wall pose.
Kapha headaches are most often associated with sinus headaches. They leave you feeling heavy and dull. Your face may feel puffy, and you suffer from a distinct lack of energy. Kapha headaches can cause pain around your eyes, cheeks, and forehead, but you rarely experience nausea or light sensitivity like a Pitta headache.
Treating a Kapha Headache
To treat a Kapha headache, try a neti pot to open up your sinuses and help them drain. You can also drink ginger tea with cinnamon. Though you feel energy-less, it’s best to try to get yourself outside, so try going for a short walk.
Preventing a Kapha Headache
Here are a few ways to prevent Kapha headaches:
- Perform light exercise each day.
- Favor foods that are warm, light, and dry instead of cold, heavy, or fried.
- Lean towards foods that are bitter and spicy instead of sweet or salty.
- Use cinnamon, ginger, black pepper, and basil in your cooking.
- Give yourself a regular steam treatment with eucalyptus, rosemary, or peppermint oils.
- Try heated, vinyasa yoga.
Yoga For Kapha Headaches
Here are some yoga poses to balance excess Kapha:
- Sun salutation: invites heat and mobility to counteract cold, stable Kapha.
- Upward Plank: this pose builds heat in the arms, legs, and back.
- Headstand: Kapha can cause fluid to accumulate in the feet and legs; headstands can help this fluid move and drain. You can also try Downward-Facing Dog if Headstand is not for you.
Ayurveda For Headaches, Ayurveda For Life
I’m the last person to read into a bunch of “woo-woo” nonsense, but following Ayurveda has quite literally changed my life. We use Ayurveda to expand our knowledge on how best to treat our bodies, and headaches are no exception. Depending on what kind of headaches you suffer from, these tips of Ayurveda for headaches can make such an intense difference in how you treat and prevent agonizing pain. Otherwise, headaches can be a real pain in the neck, ya know?
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