When you feel a headache coming on, an alternative (and healthier) approach to popping a pill could be taking some yoga time out. Here are yoga poses to relieve headaches.
For centuries men and women have seen yoga as a solution to peace and wellbeing, and a feeling of being at one with
your environment. However, studies have shown that yoga has many other benefits, too, one of them being treatment
for certain types of headaches. A 2014 study found that headache frequency and intensity was reduced in people who practised yoga in addition to their regular treatment regimen. Experts in the industry agree.
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Dr Elliot Shevel, medical director of The Headache Clinic, says regular exercise is frequently recommended for migraine treatment. Many studies have reported beneficial effects of aerobic exercise on both frequency and intensity of migraines as well as on the duration of the attacks and on the patient’s wellbeing. However, around 22% of migraine patients complain that exercise was a trigger factor and hence some patients avoid exercise and are physically less active, he adds.
How it works
In yoga, slower movements or static muscular exercises are performed with mindfulness, and you focus on your
poses while you work. You have to feel the movements and develop awareness of your body and body motion. This is
why yoga, a slow non-exertional aerobic exercise, is more beneficial than pure aerobic exercise. ‘Studies have shown
that yoga is better than aerobic exercise at enhancing mood and alleviating stress and depression,’ says Dr Shevel.
The use of yoga in the treatment of illness is not new. It’s effective in treating numerous chronic diseases such as asthma, diabetes, arthritis, fibromyalgia, depression and ischemic heart disease, where stress is believed to play an important role. In headaches and migraines in particular, stress is one of the most common triggers.
Bruce Burger from Living Yoga suggests the following poses from BKS Iyengar’s book Light on Yoga: