Yoga for Headache Relief
Is Yoga for headache relief worth your time? Believe it, or not, a search of reputable sites will mention Yoga as an adjunct method for headache pain relief. When teaching students with ailments, there should be an encyclopedia that would compile suggested pranayama techniques and asanas for each condition.
Can you imagine the size that book would be? Each of us has manuals, notes, texts, and study guides from our yoga teacher training courses, but we need comprehensive medical studies for every ailment. Many yoga instructors still do trial and error methods.
That said, we should make sure a student has talked with his or her doctor because headaches have specific causes and differences. Teachers want to be careful and keep students out of harm’s way. It should be remembered that each of us has a unique body and results will vary.
If a student knows the cause is high blood pressure, we know that inversions will not be recommended. Knowing the cause of the headache is extremely valuable.
When someone is suffering from a headache they feel the pain in different areas of the head and neck. It can also spread to the back and other areas of the body due to tension.
It is important to discuss with students where they are experiencing the pain, and determine what type of headache they have in order to instruct them on the specific moves they can use to relieve their pain and return to some sort of normalcy.
Not only that, but it is imperative, as always, to instruct them on correct breathing techniques as well as train them in the art of focus and mindfulness. Every good yoga instructor has their student’s best interests at heart and will create a place in class where they can not only relax, but tackle whatever issues they may have in their mind, heart, and soul.
Distracting the mind from pain makes yoga for headache relief a reasonable choice. Almost every yogic technique can be beneficial in relieving headaches when practising yoga training, but gaining some insight into these specific yogic techniques can help yoga teachers explain what works and what can irritate when it comes to headaches.
When considering what to avoid, hot or flowing yoga might be a problem, but many loyal practitioners would beg to differ. Each of us is different and anything that makes a headache worse should be avoided.
Below is a shortlist of gentle yoga techniques for headaches. However, before students try anything, they should consult with their physicians. Not all asanas are beneficial to every student.
This is not a situation to push one’s luck. Headaches are not a light matter and should be addressed in a consultation with a medical professional. Inversions are not suggested for students with high blood pressure, eye conditions, heart problems, and more conditions.
- Legs up the Wall – This is an inverted yoga pose and is not advised for students with high blood pressure, eye conditions, or heart problems. This asana is perfect for getting to that place where your mind is quiet and becoming ready to focus. It is important to keep the legs up, not necessarily at a 90-degree angle. Also, be sure the shoulders are gliding away from the head and pressed gently to the floor.
- Half Standing Forward Bend – Reaching out to a wall or chair makes this asana easier to hold. There is some belief that when bent forward or backwards, gravity provides relief from pain, including headache pressure. So really anything that inverts you might provide relief. In half forward bend, just bend forward so that your upper body is parallel to the floor. Slowly move the head left to right and in a nodding motion to release pressure and loosen the tissues of the neck. If this method doesn’t give you relief there is no need to continue, but some practitioners swear it works.
- Reclining Twist – This is a simple yoga pose in which you keep the right shoulder down while twisting left, and vice versa. It is a gentle and relaxing asana, giving the yoga teacher a chance to instruct the students about proper breathing and self-awareness. Many teachers and assistants walk around the room giving verbal
- Bhramari Pranayama – This is a widely used method to relieve headache pressure. Sit with legs crossed, close your ears gently with thumbs, place both index fingers on the forehead, and rest the other three fingers on your face with two over each eye. Breathe in slowly and breathe out with a hum.
Also advise students to drink plenty of water and limit their interaction with electronic devices. This practice, along with a healthy diet and plenty of rest should have them feeling better.
Most of all, make sure your students know that yoga is not a cure. If yoga alleviates headache pain, it is only covering the cause. For example: If the cause is too much time on the laptop, yoga might help, but every time we spend excess time using electronic devices is the real source of the problem.
This is only one example, but a talk or exam with one’s physician is going to reveal your specific cause. This issue should not be ignored, because we don’t want to ignore a potentially serious condition.