Having a headache can ruin your whole day. Besides the pain in your head, headaches can impact your whole body. Some people get sensitive to light or sound, some feel nauseous and some get joint pain. There are different types of headaches (read about the 3 types of headaches in Ayurveda here and learn how to treat them) but what most of them have in common is that they come with tension. That can be tension in your mind or in your body.
The good thing is, that yoga can help you to release tension in both your body and your mind and is in general great for relaxing. This helps with any stress-related headaches. When we are stressed, we often get tight in the upper back, the shoulders, and the neck – all of this can lead to headaches. There are also studies that indicate that yoga can help with migraines.
So let’s look at some yoga poses that can help you to release tension, stress, and headaches.
Yoga for Headaches
Whenever you feel that a headache is creeping up, take a break and make sure to relax for a moment and do a few of the below exercises to loosen up the shoulders and the neck. Also breathing exercises like Alternate Nostril Breathing or Box Breathing can help to relax and calm down. Often these short breaks can reduce a headache or stop it before it gets a full migraine attack.
When you do these poses make sure to move slowly and mindfully and focus on your breath. Take deep inhales and exhales into your belly and don’t rush things. Stay in each pose for at least 10 breaths and with each exhale, try to relax more and more into the pose.
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Yoga Poses for Headaches
Child’s Pose is a great way to relax the shoulders and the neck. If it feels good, you can gently roll your forehead from left to right and massage your Third Eye. It also increases blood circulation into the head which can help to alleviate headaches.
Cat & Cow Pose
This is one of my favorite poses of all time. When you have a headache, make sure to move super slowly and enjoy the movement of your whole spine. This is one of the more active poses for headaches that can increase the oxygen level in your blood and improves circulation.
Seated or Standing Forward Bend
Both variations are fine here. I often feel that when I have a bad headache that a standing forward bend is too much. But both poses not only open the hamstrings but also stretch the spine and open the shoulders. Make sure to let your head hang heavy to create space in your neck and feel the power of gravity.
Twisting Poses are great to open the chest and stretch the spine. Take deep belly breaths during this pose and make sure that your head is supported. I like to imagine that I squeeze out all pain from my body and let it go with each exhale.
This pose is also called Corpse Pose and is the ultimate relaxation. I like to do an active muscle relaxation practice here and start by relaxing my feet, my ankles, my shins, my knees, etc. working my way up to the head. When you have a headache try to put a blanket or a little eye pillow over your eyes.
Legs up the Wall
This pose is similar to Savasana but also helps with increased blood flow into the head. Stay here for 10 minutes to feel fully relaxed.
When it comes to headaches, make sure to listen to your body and move in a way that feels good. Some people like poses where blood is flowing into the head (like Downward Facing Dog), others prefer to just do some shoulder and neck rolls.
If you want to learn more about headaches and Ayurveda, make sure to check out this blog post.