When you feel a headache coming on, what’s the first thing you do? Reach for the Tylenol? Pop an Advil? Down a cup of coffee? Dive in for a nap? How about yoga? Have you ever tried a little gentle yoga to clear your head? That’s right: yoga is a cheap, natural alternative to soothe your aching head. Let’s look at a few ways to relieve certain types of headaches with gentle yoga poses.
According to the Mayo clinic, there are many different types of headaches, including everything from the common “tension headache,” to mind-numbing sinus headaches, to the more extreme version: the migraine. It’s important to know just what is causing that headache of yours.
Related: How To Use Yoga To Detox
If it is a regular occurrence or if it is excruciating in nature, make sure you seek medical attention. But if you are experiencing a regular old tension headache, a few yoga asanas (poses) might just do the trick.
How does this work? Think about what yoga does for you:
- Slows you down
- Teaches you to breath more fully
- Helps you relax
- Stretches out the tight spots
- Improves your circulation
If you have a tension headache, one of these five things is likely going wrong. Taking even a few minutes for some gentle yoga poses is going to not only relieve the current state of anxiety or tension, but some of these poses will relieve tight spots near your head that will help open up space for more oxygen. The following eight postures can be done almost anywhere at anytime—some can even be done in a cubical if needed! Give them a try and see what these postures do for your head.
This pose stretches the back and promotes relaxation.
1) Begin with hands and knees on the mat, knees separated to the outer edges of the mat.
2) Sit your tailbone down and back between your heels and lower your belly between your thighs.
3) Stretch your arms long in front of you and relax your forehead onto the mat. Breathe fully and hold as long as you’d like.
This pose stretches the back and promotes spinal flexibility.
1) Begin on your hands and knees with hands directly under shoulders and knees directly under hips.
2) Start with your spine in a “neutral” or long position, then slowly tuck your tailbone and lower the crown of your head so your back gently rounds.
3) Draw your naval up to your spine and breathe gently as you hold the stretch.
Seated Forward Fold
This pose stretches the hamstrings and low back.
1) Begin in a seated position with legs stretched out straight in front of you and spine tall and straight.
2) Inhale as you reach straight up overhead to lengthen your spine.
3) As you exhale, reach your middle and index fingers to grab your big toes and begin to bring your body over the top of your legs. Lower until you feel a gentle stretch in your hamstrings and low back and hold.
4) Breathe fully as you continue to lengthen your spine. Hold for 30 seconds.
This pose stretches the chest, neck, spine and hips and strengthens the glutes and low back.
1) Begin lying on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor close to glutes.
2) Tucking your shoulders under you, tighten your abdominals and lift your hips up as high as you can. Align knees with hip bones.
3) Interlace hands under body and press them into the floor as you lift hips high. Squeeze glutes and abdominals. Keep neck relaxed on the mat.
4) Continue to breathe and hold for 30 seconds.
This pose opens and stretches the hips, groin and back and promotes relaxation.
1) Begin lying on your back and grab your big toes with your index and middle fingers.
2) Gently draw toes down so knee pull toward shoulders. Keep elbows gently pressing knees open.
3) Relax and breathe. Hold 30 seconds.
This is an inversion. Be sure your neck is healthy and strong before attempting.
1) Begin lying on your back with legs extended straight up in the air above hips. Keep feet together.
2) Placing hands against lower back, engage abdominals and begin lifting legs into the air while supporting lower back with your hands.
3) Continue to send feet behind head until big toes rest on the floor. Relax neck throughout.
Legs Up The Wall
This is a resorative pose that promotes calm throughout the body.
1.) Find a clear space near a wall and sit facing the wall.
2.) Scoot as close to the wall as you can and slowly lay back sliding your legs up the wall.
3.) Keep your arms relaxed by your side and take slow, deep breaths.
4.) Remain for as long as you can, but at least 1 minute.
This pose promotes relaxation and meditation.
1) Lay on your back with legs long, feet hip width apart and arms relaxed by your side with palms up.
2) Let your feet fall into their natural position either outward or inward.
3) Relax your hand and let your fingers curl naturally.
4) Focus on your breath as you relax each and every part of your body. Stay as long as you can.