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Yoga for Headache Relief


Headaches are usually a result of muscle tension in the back of the neck due to postural problems. For most people, restorative yoga poses (asanas) and breathing techniques can relieve and help prevent the onset of many types of headaches. Here are some examples.

Mountain Pose is an “active standing” posture. Stand tall with the outer edges of the feet parallel to each other. Engage (contract) the thigh muscles, causing the kneecaps to lift. At the same time, press your shoulder blades together and then release them down the back. Lengthen the neck, keeping your chin parallel to the floor, and relax your eyes. This asana can help eliminate bad postural habits and serve as a reminder to keep the head elevated rather than crunching it into the neck.

Downward Facing Dog begins by kneeling with the hands and knees on the floor, hands under the shoulders, fingers spread wide, knees under the hips, spine straight. Now push the hips upward, moving the body into and inverted V shape. The legs and arms are straight, and the shoulders are wide and relaxed. The heels move toward the floor. Tighten the tummy, but keep the head and face relaxed. Take several slow deep breaths in this position, then come back to kneeling. Repeat as many times as you like. Stretching and strengthening the muscles in the upper torso during this pose can also help relieve tension in the neck and head.

Bridge Pose begins on your back, feet planted close to your buttocks, palms on the floor. Breathe in, and with an exhale, press your feet into the mat to lift the tailbone off the ground. Clasp your hands together underneath your tailbone and walk the shoulder blades closer together. Allow your weight to rest on the posterior shoulders and the feet. Next, lift your hips upward; hold for several breaths. Then slowly roll the spine down to the ground, one vertebra at a time, beginning from the shoulders. This pose calms the brain while opening the chest and rejuvenating tired legs.

Although it may sound odd, it can be helpful while doing these restorative asanas to wrap the head with an Ace bandage. The sensation it creates can be quite comforting.

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