Yoga as a therapy for headaches and migraines: If you do not want to resort to medication for physical complaints in the head area, you can look for alternative treatment methods in the large range of exercises of yoga.
Headaches and migraines are often caused by poor posture and stress at work and in everyday life. The so-called tension headaches have their origin in the tense muscles in the shoulder and neck area.
Under certain conditions, yoga helps against headaches and migraines. In the best case, you should talk to your doctor or a very experienced yoga teacher in advance about how to do the exercises correctly. Here we show you some asanas (yoga exercises) and pranayamas (breathing techniques) that you can use to combat tension headaches and migraines.
How can yoga help with headaches?
If you want to use yoga therapeutically, the focus is primarily on relaxation. By gently practicing the asanas and pranayamas, you relieve tension and promote the supply of oxygen and blood circulation in your body. The blood pressure is regulated and the metabolism is stimulated.
Yoga for headache relief is especially effective when practiced regularly. With a daily yoga practice, in which you integrate the following exercises, you will achieve a preventive effect.
There are many physical exercises in yoga that stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system (= resting nerve or recovery nerve, which serves to relax and build up the body's own reserves) stimulate and thus have a calming effect on your nervous system. This happens, among other things, through the slight stretching and increased activity of the muscles. The activity of the sympathetic nervous system (The sympathetic nervous system prepares the organism for physical and mental performance), on the other hand, is reduced and your stress resilience increases.
Many of the breathing exercises and meditation techniques have a similarly effective - and above all long-term - effect. It is not for nothing that many health insurance companies now see yoga as a health-promoting measure and contribute to the costs of courses.
Asanas: Simple yoga exercises for headaches & Migraines
It is important that you do not overtax yourself or your body. Therefore, start the exercises as gently as possible to find out what helps you against the pain. If you notice that the respective exercise is good for you, you can slowly increase the intensity.
If you already have yoga experience, you can usually practice on your own at home without hesitation. If you are a yoga beginner, it is best to get the advice of an experienced yoga teacher.
We will now show you some asanas that can help relieve headaches and migraines.
Child Pose - Balasana
Balasana - the pose of the child - has a calming effect. If you're able to sink deep into the exercise, it will relax the muscles in your back, neck, and shoulders.
You'll begin the exercise sitting on your heels. As you exhale, bend forward and rest your forehead on the mat. Your arms are relaxed beside your body, palms facing up. Your shoulders drop toward the floor, gently stretching your shoulder blades. If you want, you can rest your head on a pillow or yoga block during the exercise. Alternatively, you can also extend your arms forward or spread your knees further apart to create more space between your legs for your upper body.
Cat – Majariasana
The cat helps release tension in the back. At the same time, you strengthen all your back muscles with this asana and thus prevent tension headaches.
You start with the position on all fours. Make sure your wrists are under your shoulder joints and your knees are under your hip joints. As you exhale arch your back up and tuck your chin toward your chest. With the next inhalation you come back to the neutral position. You can do this exercise a few times in your own breathing rhythm.
Downward Facing Dog - Adho Mukha Svanasana
Downward Facing Dog has a calming and stress-relieving effect. On a physical level, it relieves headaches and activates the circulatory system.
From the child's position, you move to the all-fours position. From there, push your hips further up in Adho Mukha Svanasana so that your buttocks are the highest point of your body. Make sure your hands are shoulder-width apart on the mat and your fingers are spread wide. Your feet are hip width apart. Feel free to bend your knees slightly to keep your back as straight as possible. You can either practice the dog dynamically or stay in the position for a few deep breaths. It is best to relax afterwards in the position of the child.
Pranayama – prevent headaches with breathing exercises
You can usually do light breathing exercises at home without hesitation. When practicing, it is best to sit in a comfortable position in which you can keep your back straight and relaxed. You are also welcome to sit on a chair for the breathing exercises against headaches and migraines.
Deep abdominal breathing
Deep abdominal breathing is a simple but effective yoga pose for headaches and migraines. For the exercise, you can position yourself comfortably on your back or in a sitting position. Place your hands on your stomach so that your fingertips touch your belly button. Breathe in deeply for four seconds, feeling your abdominal wall rise. If you can, hold your breath for four seconds, and then exhale very slowly and consciously for four seconds. Feel your abdominal wall drop back down. Repeat the exercise a few times
Nadi Shodhana – alternate breathing
Nadi Shodhana is said to have a cleansing effect. The breathing technique strengthens the cardiovascular system and stimulates the flow of energy in the body. You will find a comfortable and upright sitting position for alternating breathing. Bend the index and middle fingers of the right hand. You put your left hand relaxed on your thigh. Exhale fully and close your right nostril with your right thumb. Inhale through the left nostril and then close the left nostril with your ring finger. Pause for a moment, open your right nostril and exhale through that nostril. Then inhale on the right, close the nostril and pause again. Then exhale to the left and repeat the exercise.