Yoga for Headaches

I teach fitness, health, and yoga classes at a college. The students exercise, but they go further too. They learn about current studies in fitness, nutrition, and disease prevention. They also develop a deeper understanding of the yoga poses that they perform. This is Part 2 of 3 blogs are based on their work.

As headaches have many causes, the yoga poses that help headaches are varied. Here are a few that may help, especially those caused by tension in the neck and shoulders.

  1. Childs Pose: This is the number one pose for headache, especially when using some type of support under the head. Start on hands and knees. Let the big toes touch each other, then shift the hips back towards the heels leaving your hands where they are. Let the spine round naturally. If this is too deep, you may rest your head on your stacked fists or on a block or pillow. Keep the face towards the ground, do not turn the head.
  2. Cat Pose: This pose helps all kinds of shoulder and back tension. Start on all fours with the hands beneath the shoulders and the knees beneath the hips. Inhale, spread the shoulders in the upper back and press down into the hands. On an exhale, arch and round the spine into cat. Curl the chin towards the chest. Inhale, return to neutral.
  3. Mountain Pose: This pose helps teach our body how to retain good posture. Stand evenly on both feet, with feet hip width apart. Hips over heels. Shoulders over hips. Drop your shoulders away from ears. Chin level to ground. Once you feel comfortable here (you may also practice near a wall), take a few breaths lifting your arms up and over your head.
  4. Standing Forward Bend: Use this pose to open the spine and relax the neck and shoulders. If you are suffering from a headache from a sinus headache, do not attempt as it will place more pressure in the head. Standing from mountain, exhale and fold forward. Begin folding from the hips with a straight back. When you feel the tension in your back and hamstrings, allow the knees to bend slightly and drape your back from the upper then middle then lower back. Hang there and breathe. If it feels too deep, bend your knees more or allow your arms to support you on a block or chair. If you want a little more, you can hold onto your elbows as you hang. Come back up the way you went down: lower, middle, upper back, then use your legs to support your flat back.
  5. Corpse: The ultimate relaxation pose. Lay on your back, spreading yours legs at least hip distance apart. Allow the feet to turn out and relax. Spread your arms to your sides, at least as far as they don’t touch your body. Palms turn up. Even out your hips and shoulder blades on the floor. Lower your shoulders away from your ears and tuck your shoulder blades down. Close your eyes. Relax your breath and body. Focus on relaxing each and every muscle of the body. Stay at least 5 minutes.

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