Yoga for Headaches

Headaches are a common ailment for most of us, which is our bodies way of letting us know something is out of balance. Yoga is a great way to help to bring the body back to a state of balance. Certain Yoga poses can help reduce the frequency and intensity of headaches before it becomes painful enough to have us reaching for the pain meds. First let’s understand a few reasons why we get headaches.

Watch Rachelle go through her Yoga for Headaches sequence on the social!

Common Causes of Headaches

  • Dehydration
    • Quick tip: for every cup of coffee you drink add one cup of water to your daily consumption
    • Women should be consuming approximately 2L per day and men 4L per day.
  • Stress! No explanation needed there!
  • Tension in neck and shoulders, due to stress and poor posture
  • Weather changes can cause imbalances in brain chemicals, including serotonin, which can trigger a migraine or headache
  • Lack of blood flow to the brain due to sedentary lifestyle or high stress, which can constrict blood vessels and because of gravity blood pools towards our feet. Moving the body and getting upside down is a great way to help counter this.
  • A diet lacking in nutrient dense foods and rich in antioxidants can leave the body depleted triggering a headache.

How Can Yoga Help With Headaches?

Quick Tip: Do the yoga poses as soon as possible after you start to feel a headache coming on. Once the headache is established it will be very difficult to alleviate.

  • Increases circulation throughout the body
  • Increases blood flow to the brain
  • Increases oxygen through deep breathing
  • Reduces tension due to stress
  • Brings the body back to a state of balance

BONUS: rub peppermint or lavender essential oil on temples, wrists and under your nose to help reduce stress and headaches.

Before you pop a pain pill try these poses first!

Plow Pose

HOW TO:

  • Lay on your back with your palms, facing down beside you
  • Engage your core, push into your palms and lift your feet off the floor until they are pointed to the ceiling at a 90 degree angle
  • With the support of your hands, lift you’re your hips and lower back off your mat
  • Continue to support your hips as you lower your feet towards your head
  • If your toes reach the floor behind you, press them into the ground
  • To exit the pose, slowly and with control return your hands to your back, and gently raise your feet up to a 90 degree angle and slowly lower down vertebra by vertebra

BENEFITS:

  • Increases circulation throughout the body
  • Helps to relieve stress and fatigue
  • Calming to the nervous system
  • Stretches the shoulders and spine

Dolphin Pose

HOW TO:

  • Move onto your hands and knees ensuring knees are below the hips and wrists below your shoulders
  • Gently lower your forearms to the mat keeping them shoulder distance apart; interlacing fingers
  • Curl your toes under and push your knees away from the floor allowing your knees to straighten if that is accessible
  • Lift the sitting bones towards the ceilings and press into your forearms
  • Allow your head to stay between the upper arms, crown of head off the mat.
  • To exit the pose, exhale and lower your knees to the mat.

BENEFITS:

  • Inversion – which allows fresh blood to the brain, helps to reduce headaches and insomnia.
  • Can have a calming effect on the brain and relieve stress by creating focus and calm a racing mind
  • Stretches the hamstrings, shoulders and calves while strengthening the legs and arms

Legs up the Wall

HOW TO (with a wall):

  • Sit next to a wall so that your left side body is touching the wall
  • Lie on your back and gently turn to the left allow your legs to walk up the wall stopping when your feet are facing upwards; It will take a few adjustments to get comfortable here
  • Press your sit bones as close to the wall as possible
  • Your back and head will be resting on the floor and your body will form a 90 degree angle
  • To exit the pose, gently allow legs to slide to the left and return to a seated position

BENEFITS:

  • Provides relief for lower-back pain, tired legs and feet.
  • Calming to the nervous system, body and mind
  • Increases blood flow, gentle inversion
  • Great for insomnia and improved sleep, when stressed or racing mind

Childs Pose with Prayer Hands

HOW TO:

  • Kneeling on your mat, bring your big toes to touch and knees wide apart.  Slowly draw your hips towards the heels of your feet.
  • Gently press the space between your eyebrows (third eye) into the mat (this creates a sense of calm and grounding).
  • Bring the hands in a prayer position and place them to the nape of the neck. Extend the elbows forward, towards the top of the mat.
  • Stay in the pose for 5-10 breaths.

Self Massage

*can also do a self-massage in this pose, gently massage forehead into mat, rocking forehead back and forth.

*Massage neck and shoulders

BENEFITS:

  • Stretch triceps and shoulders
  • Helps reduce tension in neck and shoulders
  • Reduce tension related headaches
  • Very calming to the nervous system when we are stressed or feel unbalanced
  • Helps to ground us when feeling overwhelmed, anxious and stressed

Tipover Tuck Pose  

HOW TO:

  • Kneeling on your mat, shins parallel and hip distance apart.
  • Interlace your hands behind your back and lean forward. Stay here if this feels good, or lift your hips into the air so you’re now resting on the top of your head in Grounded Tipover Tuck.
  • Bringing your hands as far away from the back to feel a stretch in your chest, shoulders, and the back of your neck.
  • Stay for five or more deep breaths.

BENEFITS:

  • Great for headaches caused by tight shoulders
  • Increases circulation, sending blood flow to the brain
  • Improves posture
  • Stimulates energy
  • Creates sense of calm and focus

Meditation for a Headache

HOW TO:

  • Sit in a comfortable position, breathing quietly.
  • Tuck your ring fingers into your palms.  Bring the tip of your thumb to the tips of the index and middle fingers.
  • Extend your little fingers out as much as possible.
  • Rest your hands in your lap with palms facing upward.
  • Relax your shoulders back and down, sitting tall, lengthening the crown of your head towards the ceiling.

Repeating to yourself “Every exhale is releasing stress and tension from my whole body.”

BENEFITS:

  • Brings balance and calm to the body and mind
  • Reduces tension and stress
  • Mudra= hand position, this one is specific for headaches
  • Mudra’s stimulate different areas in the brain and create a specific energetic flow in the body.