Yoga for Headaches

Yoga is known to have many benefits. To me, a lot of them are long-term benefits which come with consistent practice, for example, stronger muscles, better heart health and improved mental wellbeing. Hence, I was pleasantly surprised to discover the immediate effect that yoga has on headaches. 

I tend to get headaches easily. Over the years, I’ve realised that the 3 main causes of headaches for me are:

  1. Dehydration from too much sun exposure (or when it’s too warm outside);
  2. Staring at the computer for too long (eye strain);
  3. Sleeping in an air-conditioned room with wet hair (sign of old age?)

All of them give me tension headaches, which is this feeling of tightness or pressure across your forehead, or on the sides and back of your head. As I try not to take any medication for these headaches, I’ll just endure through the day and hope that a good night’s sleep will make them disappear. 

One day, I went for a yin yoga class despite my throbbing headache because it was too late to cancel the booking. During the class, the teacher told us to take long and deep breaths, and we held each pose for a few minutes. Even though we were on the ground most of the time and it felt like we didn’t do much, by the end of the 1-hour class, my headache had disappeared!

As it turns out, yoga is a powerful natural remedy for headaches because most headaches are tension-related, and doing yoga helps to release tension and stress in the body. The yin yoga class gave me the chance to slow down my mind and focus on my breathing. Every deep and slow inhalation and exhalation increased the amount of oxygenated blood that flowed to my brain, and that helped with the pain and stress. From then on, whenever I have a headache, I’ll go for a yin class and it has worked every time! 

Here are 5 poses which are good for relieving headaches:

  1. Cat pose (Marjaryasana): Relieves tension in the spine, shoulders and neck, and helps to boost circulation in the upper body.
  2. Child’s pose (Balasana): Calms the nervous system and reduces pain.
  3. Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana): Increases blood circulation to the brain.
  4. Seated Forward Fold (Paschimottanasana): Calms the brain and relieves stress.
  5. Corpse Pose (Savasana): Completely relaxes the body and brings it into a deep state of meditative rest.