I’m excited to share this post about yoga for tension headaches. It’s a topic close to my heart because managing tension headaches has been an ongoing challenge for me. For me, they started a while after a major car crash about 20 years ago so I have to be very careful to manage them through lifestyle considerations and appropriate exercise choices.
Guest blogger Emila shares five simple yoga postures that you can try to help keep tension headaches at bay. Emilia is well qualified to discuss these yoga postures having completed her 200 hour yoga teacher training in India
I hope these suggestions are helpful for you and that you are able to incorporate them into your lifestyle, if they’re appropriate for you.
(This post includes affiliate links for which I may earn a commission at no extra cost to you should you make a purchase)
- A symptom of modern lifestyle
- The power of yoga for tension headaches
- Yoga to destress from the modern world
- The best yoga poses for tension headaches
- Major precautions to be taken while practicing yoga for tension headaches
A symptom of modern lifestyle
In the modern world, tension headaches are a common phenomenon. Tension headaches are caused by excessive exertion, emotional or physical stress, strain to the eyes, and high alcohol or caffeine use. These factors are often synonymous with our day to day lives.
The extent of damage that we have done to our lifestyle is such that as per a report by the Cleveland Clinic, almost 80 percent of the population in the United States suffer from intermittent tension headaches. Around 3% of them suffer from the chronic form.
Additionally, women are at double the risk when compared to men when it comes to tension headaches. So, the question that arises now is how do you manage such headaches?
Yoga poses play an important part in this and there are quite a few poses of yoga for tension headaches. These can be incorporated in your lives to ensure that you are able to keep this menace away.
The power of yoga for tension headaches
Yogic practices have been here for ages but their real worth has been recently understood. Through the power of yoga poses, a person can maintain a healthy body, a healthy mind, and most importantly a fuller and happier life.
The power of yoga has been well documented in almost all walks of life. Be it physical, psychological, or physiological, yoga practices have proved their mettle in everything. They have become one of the most sought-after alternative therapies today.
Yoga to destress from the modern world
Practicing regular yoga to destress is a very effective and proven method that has caught the attention of the current generation. This is because stress is one of the main determinants of tension headaches and it is very important to be able to control it.
Yogic practices involve stimulating the nervous system, deep breaths, meditation, and muscle relaxation, all of which consequently reduce stress & fatigue. The ultimate goal is to reduce the probability of tension headaches.
To sum up, yoga for tension headaches helps in curbing the symptoms in the following ways:
- Reducing stress & calming the mind
- Relaxing the pressure in neck, shoulder & chest
- Ensuring more oxygen is absorbed by the body, which alleviates the energy levels and helps you feel joyous
- Relieving fatigue & lethargy
- Rejuvenating mind, body & soul, which ultimately results in a happier you and a tension free life
The best yoga poses for tension headaches
While there are a lot of postures of yoga for tension headaches that one can do to reduce occurrences, I am going to list the six most common and easily doable poses. These will help provide you the much-needed pain relief.
You’ll find pictures and descriptions of the postures below. If you’d prefer to take it a step further, you could also consider taking an online yoga course.
1. Tadasana pose for tension headaches
Tadasana or the mountain pose helps to rectify your alignment. Standing upright on your toes allows you to find your center of gravity which subsequently relieves the pressure in the entire body, making you feel lighter. This affects the entire nervous system and is an effective way to reduce tension headaches if the cause is muscle stress.
For this pose, you need to stand on tiptoes and then slowly stretch up. Take your hands over your head and maintain a straight posture. Feel the stretch in your body for about 10 seconds and then exhale.
2. Adho Mukha Virasana posture for tension headaches
This is a versatile pose which helps to alleviate lower back pain, loosen the spine and relieve shoulder pain, in addition to many other forms of pain. Practicing it every day will help maintain flexibility in your body & reduce the occurrence of tension headaches.
People whose jobs require long sittings should regularly practice this asana as it will help them not only for the tension headache but also to prevent muscle stiffness and general body pain.
To practice, sit on your knees, bend forward and put your face down. Once done, raise your hands above your head and stretch them out.
3. Garudasana pose for tension headaches
This has a proven track record of alleviating shoulder stiffness and neck pain. It also assists with opening up the chest muscles. This, in turn, relieves stress, fatigue and ultimately reduces the frequency of headaches.
This is particularly good for people who have desk jobs and end up sitting for long hours. Refer to the image below for step by step guidance on how to do this pose.
4. Bhramari Asana for tension headaches
In this pose, you are required to breathe deeply whilst creating a humming sound like a bee. This asana is helpful in soothing the nervous system, dissipating anger/stress, releasing cerebral tension & promoting sound sleep.
All of these factors can contribute to tension headaches. Bhramari is more effective in people whose causes of tension headaches are psychological and not physical.
To practice this yoga pose, close your eyes, take a deep breath and while exhaling, make a bee-like humming sound.
5. Shavasana pose for tension headaches
Shavasana or the corpse pose is possibly the most relaxing yoga pose ever. It is a very effective pose of yoga for tension headaches.
However, in order to reap the most benefits of this pose, it is highly recommended that your ambiance is quiet as well. Practicing this asana every day for 5-7 minutes will act as a stress reliever and rejuvenate your entire body.
Just like Bhramari, this is most effective in people whose reasons for headaches are psychological and stem from mental stress & fatigue. To do this, just lie down straight like a corpse. Let go of all thoughts until your body and mind calm down.
Make sure you are warm and comfortable in this position so you can fully relax. Many people who practice yoga like to use a blanket (such as a Mexican yoga blanket) to stay warm and cozy during this posture.
Major precautions to be taken while practicing yoga for tension headaches
While the above-listed yoga poses are of beginner level and you should be able to follow them quite easily, there are still a few precautions that always come in handy. This is especially so if you are new to Yoga and do not have a trained instructor coaching you.
So, before you begin yoga for tension headaches, be mindful of the following facts:
- Consult your doctor if you suffer from any health condition like herniated disks, balance problems, erratic blood pressure, or osteoporosis. Certain yoga postures may do you more harm than good.
- Choose the correct form of clothing. Incorrect clothing can cause a plethora of issues ranging from numbing your nerves to creating hindrances in certain poses. This can make you prone to injuries
- Avoid practicing yoga after your meals, especially if the meal was a heavy one. While the best time to practice the asanas is during the morning hours, you may take the liberty to choose a time slot that suits you as long as it is not after a wholesome and heavy meal.
- Keep yourself adequately hydrated before you begin. However, do not consume too much water while you’re in the session
- Do not mix yoga with other forms of exercise right away. It is good if you practice any other form of exercise like hitting the gym, going for a dance class, running, cycling etc. However please be mindful of the fact that none of these activities should be done immediately before or after your session of yoga. The ideal break time in between these activities is around 30 minutes
Yoga should provide pain relief…it shouldn’t cause pain!
In case you feel pain at any point during your asanas, stop immediately and cool down. Also, if the pain persists, you should consult your doctor to make sure that the yoga postures are helping with pain relief and not becoming the cause of more pain.
Getting coached by a trained professional is the most effective and recommended way of starting off your yoga journey. However, these postures of yoga for tension headaches should be enough to help you prevent frequent occurrences.
If you want to explore the vast sea of yoga in more depth, then I suggest you reach out to certified instructors or follow some over the internet. This will help to give you more perspective into the wonderful and healthy lifestyle that yoga gives you.
So, what are you waiting for? Make sure that you incorporate a daily dose of yoga in your lifestyle and say goodbye to those tension headaches once and for all!
Please leave a comment below to let us know how you get on with these yoga postures for tension headaches. We hope they have been helpful for you!
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