Yoga Poses for Headache Relief

Yoga Poses for Headache Relief

It’s Wednesday.

Your head is throbbing as if it has a pulse, and you’re burnt out from dealing with everything that is “back to school.” Between work, meet the teacher, and shopping for school supplies “you” have been last on your “to-do list.” Due to the back to school rush, your eating and sleeping schedules have been terrible, and the tension headache you have is reminding you of it with each blink you take.

You feel it getting more intense and you reach for your…yoga mat?

A lot of things can cause intense headaches. Stress, lack of sleep, dehydration, hormone imbalances, and food choices all play a part in how often and frequent your headaches will occur. Since stress is one of the biggest factors, doesn’t it make sense to do something that will help relieve it?

More than 45 million Americans suffer from chronic headaches to a point they are unable to complete daily activities. Between climbing the corporate ladder, starting families, and trying to juggle student loans and mortgages, Americans are sleeping less and experiencing more headaches. Researchers have found people who do yoga and take medicine for migraines have fewer migraines than people who only take the medicine.

It was once thought that migraines were caused due to constriction of arteries in the brain and tension-based headaches were the result of strained muscles in the scalp and neck. Many researchers now believe that an imbalance in the brain's neurotransmitters, the chemicals that act as messengers between cells in the brain and the nervous system, lie at the heart of both types.

Despite the fact there are no formal scientific studies that exist in America that link yoga with headache relief, it has been proven that progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, and focusing on the breath—activities at the heart of most yoga practices—can bring about a state of deep rest in the body that changes the physical and emotional responses to stress. Yoga aids in relieving tension headaches by relaxing muscles in your head, back, and neck, boosting circulation to your brain and upper body, and improving your posture.

Here are 3 simple yoga stretches you can do at home or in your office:

Extended Side Angle

  • Sit on the edge of a chair with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Plant your feet firmly on the floor.
  • Lift your arms beside your head.
  • Grab your left wrist with your right hand.
  • On an exhalation, gently stretch to the right, pulling your left arm and wrist with your right hand.
  • Press your weight down to the left buttock.
  • Hold for 10 seconds breathing evenly.
  • Return to center and repeat on the opposite side.

A woman doing yoga on a mat showing the extended side angle

Gomukhasana Arms

  • Stand with your feet firmly planted on the floor hip-width apart.
  • Lift your right arm into the air beside your right ear.
  • Bend your right elbow.
  • Reach your right hand behind back, palm facing your back, and place it down between your shoulder blades.
  • Bring your left arm behind your back and climb it up to clasp your right hand.
  • If you have tight shoulders, use a yoga belt or tie between your hands.
  • Hold for 10 seconds, breathing evenly.
  • Release and repeat on the opposite side.

Women in a Yoga Studio doing Gomukhasana Arms

Eagle Pose

  • Wrap your arms around your torso, right arm under left, hugging yourself.
  • Bring your hands up, your left elbow rests in your right elbow.
  • Rotate your hands, palms facing each other.
  • Relax your eyes, jaw, and shoulder blades.
  • Hold for 10 seconds, breathing evenly.
  • Release and repeat with your left arm under the right.

A woman doing yoga at home performing the Eagle Pose move

I hope you found this helpful! Come back tomorrow for more tips!