Migraines are headaches in the same way that a broken bone is a sore limb. Nothing can compare to the pain and suffering caused by migraines, which are suffered by 37 million people in the U.S. alone.
Migraines have multiple triggers or causes and treatment includes everything from medication to surgery. If you suffer from migraines and want a medication-free method of relief, yoga may provide it.
What Are Migraines?
A migraine is classified as a neurological disorder that causes recurring headaches that can be moderate to high in intensity. Often, only one side of the head is affected, and the headache can last for two hours to two days.
– It is often accompanied by extreme sensitivity to sound or light.
– A sufferer may feel nauseous or vomit.
– Physical activity can aggravate the pain.
– Different sufferers have different triggers that start a migraine.
There is no single cause of migraines, and anyone can get them, but chronic sufferers often miss work or special occasions due to the pain. There are several types of treatment including medication, surgery, stress reduction, and trigger avoidance.
Yoga is a form of exercise that has been found to relieve, or even prevent migraines in some people. It can relieve pain by improving blood circulation to the body and brain, increase your oxygen levels, and relieve stress.
Beyond migraine relief, yoga has many other health benefits as well.
5 Seated Yoga Poses for Migraine Prevention and Relief
Beginning to learn yoga from a seated position can help if you are experiencing dizziness or nausea. It also has the benefit of resting on a more padded part of your body rather than rest your weight on your knees.
The first thing you learn to do in a yoga class is how to breathe properly. A specific method and timing of breathing, referred to as Pranayama, is a critical component of the practice of yoga.
Beginners learn Ujjayi Pranayama or Conqueror’s Breath.
– Inhale through the nose.
– Exhale slowly through the mouth.
– Direct the exhale along the back of the throat with a long HA sound.
– Repeat several times then close the mouth.
– Inhale and exhale through the nose, continuing to slowly direct the air along the back of the throat, creating a soft hissing sound.
Creating the sound helps you keep your breathing slow and maintain focus on your technique.
From a Sitting Position
Padmasana is also known as the Lotus pose, the pose most associated with yoga. It can also be difficult to learn. Each leg, in turn, is guided into the pose such that the bottoms of the feet are facing upwards and resting on top of the opposite thigh.
Do not try to force this position. If it proves difficult, sitting on the mat with your legs crossed and your back straight is also effective.
Padmasana is an excellent pose to practice pranayama.
Paschima Namaskarasana is also called the Reverse Prayer. It opens the chest and abdomen to allow deeper breathing. The shoulders, neck, and upper back have more space, improving blood circulation.
Seat yourself in a comfortable position, and bring your palms behind your body, working to join at the center with fingertips facing downward. During your inhale, turn the fingertips upward as if in prayer. Try to press the edge of your hands into your spine and press the palms together. It’s OK if they don’t meet.
Breathe ten times in this pose.
Janu Sirsasana, the Head-to-Knee pose, stretches the back and the legs while opening the hips. It is performed by placing both legs straight in front.
– Bend one leg inward with the knee positioned to the outside.
– Place the sole of the foot on the inside of the opposite thigh as close to the groin as possible.
– Lift the arms and chest straight up to the sky while inhaling, then exhale and bend the upper body and arms forward over the leg and try to touch the toes of the stretched leg.
– Relax and switch to the other leg.
Paschimottanasana, the seated, two-legged forward bend is similar to Janu Sirsasana above except both legs remain straight in front, stretching the spine and legs.
– Flex your toes toward you with the big toes touching and the heels slightly apart.
– Lift the spine and press your sitting bones into the earth.
– Inhale while lifting your upper body and arms into the sky, then exhale as you bend forward over your legs to reach towards the toes.
– Put your chin to your chest and lengthen the back of your neck. Your shoulders should move past your ears.
– Relax your throat and breathe.
Shavasana, or Corpse Pose, is often used at the end of a yoga session as a way to continue focusing on breathing while allowing the muscles to relax.
Start by lying on your back with your feet and legs close together. Allow your feet to fall to the sides. Place your arms at a 30-degree angle from your body with the palms facing upward. Close your eyes and concentrate on relaxing your entire body and resting on the earth.
Tips for Getting Started
First of all, never strain to achieve a pose or worry about the perfection of form. A competent yoga instructor can help you learn the various poses and breathing techniques safely.
There are over 20 different types of yoga. You may need to try more than one to find the type easiest or most fun for you. Check your local health clubs or online to find classes to get you started properly.
Along with yoga, attention to nutrition and hydration can help you avoid migraines. Since some triggers are food related, watching what you eat and avoiding certain foods will help reduce the likelihood of developing a migraine.
Do not feel you must do all of these poses. Learn them and put together a set of movements that seems the most beneficial for your body and mind.
Yoga is a gentle exercise that can help prevent migraines or relieve migraine pain by helping you relax your joints and muscles while increasing your oxygen levels and blood circulation.
About the author:
Dr. Mark Khorsandi works at the Migraine Relief Center. They provide surgical treatments that reduce and eliminate pain for migraine sufferers.