Yoga and Headaches

Yoga and Headaches

Even if you suffer from headaches only infrequently, they can dramatically disrupt your life. While some headaches may subside within a short time, throbbing migraines can cripple individuals for days, and intensely painful "cluster headaches" may recur for days or even weeks. "Tension headaches," while more common and usually less severe, also reduce productivity and can strain interpersonal relationships.

Simple Yoga techniques can serve as an alternative or supplement to other remedies for dealing with headaches, as both prevention and treatment.

Tension headaches, also categorized as muscle contraction, often can be alleviated through deep breathing and relaxation, especially in a lying down position in a quiet place. Gentle physical Yoga exercises can be used to counteract mild headaches. Inverted postures, or those where the head is lowered briefly, increase oxygen to the brain and can reduce headache-causing strain.

Some simple exercise can even be practiced at work (standing or in a chair) to ease tension that may be causing a headache. However, any type of exercise can be detrimental when you're suffering form a severe headache, especially a migraine.

A regular routine of Yoga exercises, breathing techniques, and relaxation/meditation can help prevent chronic headaches or reduce their severity. Exercises that stretch your muscles can release the tension that often causes headaches. Exercises that increase overall circulation and promote strength and balance are also helpful as they promote physical and mental balance and can strengthen your immune system. Yoga also helps to increase self-awareness, enabling you to address physical symptoms before they become severe.

A balanced diet can also play a crucial role in preventing or treating headaches. Some headaches result from a missed meal or a lack of protein and can be alleviated by eating a healthy protein snack. There are also some foods which are suspected of causing headaches, such as some nuts, aged cheeses, and chocolate, and foods containing nitrates or monosodium glutamate (MSG). Some medical experts also recommend limiting caffeine intake or eliminating it altogether. Review and experiment with your diet to see which substances seem to make a difference.

To decrease the frequency and severity of headaches in your life, try a regular routine of Yoga techniques in conjunction with close monitoring or your diet and corrective measures whenever you feel a headache coming on.

Courtesy of the American Yoga Association