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We’ve discussed migraines in the past, and no doubt we will discuss them again. The truth is, millions of people suffer from migraine pain in North America alone. This is a staggering number considering the debilitating nature of this type of headache.

If you suffer from chronic migraines you know what it feels like when one is coming on. The first thing you want to do is reach for prescribed medication that will halt it before it begins, however I encourage you take a more natural course of action.

Yoga For Health

There are so many oral and topical remedies at our fingertips that many people discount the power of natural therapies. Yoga is one such therapy that is incredible for both physical and mental strength, yet many people don’t realize that it is a powerful migraine therapy.

Yoga is a physical and mental discipline that was originally practiced in ancient India. Yoga has now become a popular hobby worldwide and has had a positive physiological impact on people everywhere.

There are many different kinds of yoga available such as:

– Anusara

– Ashtanga

– Bikram

– Hatha

– Iyengar

– Jivamukti

– Kripalu

– Power

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– Restorative

– Sivananda

– Viniyoga

– Yin

One of the key objectives in yoga practice is achieving the harmony and balance of mind, body, and spirit. Throughout a yoga sequence you work on movement, postures, breathing tactics, flexibility, and mindfulness.

When you make yoga a part of your regular routine, it has the potential to impact your mood, lower your blood pressure, improve cardiovascular health, decrease stress, and even help balance hormone levels.

Yoga As Migraine Therapy

More specifically, yoga has been studied as a potential migraine therapy and these studies have resulted in extremely promising results. People who participate in regular yoga sequences have displayed a significant decrease in headache activity and even medication use. Yoga therapy has also been shown to not only reduce the severity of migraines, but also the frequency and duration of the headache.

In addition to headache relief, regular yoga has also been proven to reduce anxiety and depression, which are also migraine triggers on their own. Perhaps the most convincing factor of the correlation between migraine relief and yoga is the fact that yoga targets the underlying causes of migraines.

Yoga fights the underlying migraine triggers by:

Fighting tension – Relieving tension from the neck, shoulder, and back muscles is essential when it comes to a preventative migraine approach. Yoga will also make the pain in these areas during a migraine far less severe because they are stretched, relaxed, and strong.

De-stress – Yoga helps you stress less because it provides a peaceful mental and physical harmony. Migraines are often triggered by stress, so when you eliminate the stress from your day to day, you are also minimizing the chances of bringing on a migraine.

Increasing circulation – Yoga does wonders for your circulation, which in turn decreases inflammation, pain, dizziness, and other migraine related symptoms.

Here’s What You Can Do

Yoga instructor Marcus Julian Felicetti recommends 10 daily yoga poses for people who suffer from chronic migraines and even for those who don’t. As we mentioned above, yoga helps with numerous health issues, so everyone should try this 10 pose routine!

– Hold every pose for 1 minute

– Concentrate on breathing

– Repeat the sequence 2-4 times

Pose #1: Forward Virasana Bend

yoga as migraine therapy

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Kneel on a comfortable surface with your knees wide apart. Draw the shoulders forward past the ears. Lower the heart towards the earth, tailbone lengthening back and down. Tuck the chin gently towards the chest, lengthening the back of the neck.

Pose #2: Adho Mukha Svanasana

yoga as migraine relief

Start with your hands and knees on the floor, with you hands under your shoulders and fingers spread wide apart. Knees should be directly under the hips. On a deep exhale, push the hips up toward the ceiling coming into an inverted V-Shape. Thighs and spine are at a 90 degree angle, palms are flat on the floor, elbows straight. The chin should be tucked in gently towards the chest and the tailbone should be tucked under to lengthen the spine. Try to keep your heels as close to the ground as possible.

Pose #3: Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide Angle Standing Forward Bend)

yoga as migraine therapy

Standing with your feet wide apart, toes firmly pressed to the ground, keep your back straight as you start to lower your hands to the ground. Press your fingertips directly onto the floor below your shoulders. Step your hands back to align them with the ankles and bend the elbows. Tuck the chin in to the chest.

Pose #4: Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)

yoga as migraine relief

Standing with feet close together, bend forward at the hips, keeping the tailbone tucked. Big toes should be touching with heels slightly apart. Relax down into this posture, tucking your chin gently into the chest, reaching down as far as you can with your hands.

Pose #5: Janusirsasana (Head to Knee pose)

yoga as migraine relief

Sitting with legs straight in front of you, bend your right leg and tuck the heel into your groin area. Press the sitting bones into the earth, lift your spine up, inhale arms overhead. Exhale and bend forward, bring your hands to your feet or your shins. Tucking the chin towards the chest gently, rest your forehead on your legs. Switch sides.

Pose #6: Pascimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend)

yoga as migraine relief

Sitting with legs stretched out straight in front of you, flex your toes with big toes touching and heels slightly apart. Press the sitting bones into the earth and lift the spine straight. Inhale arms up to the sky. Exhale and bending forward, reach the hands towards the toes or shins. Chin should be tucked gently towards the chest with your shoulders in line with the ears.

Post #7: Matsyendrasana (Spinal Twist)

yoga as migraine relief

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Sitting with both knees bent towards the sky, soles of feet on the ground. Lift your right leg and bring it over the left, placing the foot on the floor. Turn your upper body to face the right side, bringing your left elbow on the outside of your right knee. Hold for a few seconds, then switch.

Post #8: Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward Facing Dog)

yoga as migraine relief

Start by laying on your abdomen. Place your hands back by the hips, fingers spread open, index finger pointing forward. Lift up and extend through the spine. Press your shoulders down and straighten your arms, pushing the palms into the ground. Push the tops of the feet into the ground to strengthen through the thighs. If you like, you can lower your thighs onto the ground. Chin should tilt up, eyes gazing up and back.

Pose #9: Sety Bandha (Bridge Pose)

yoga as migraine relief

Laying on your back, bend your knees and place your feet on the floor. Draw your heels in close to your buttocks, feet hip width apart. Stretch your fingers towards your heels, and shoulders away from the ears. Press the feet firmly into the ground and slowly lift the pelvis up, tucking the tailbone under. Chin should be tucked in towards the chest. You can also interlace the fingers behind the back, squeezing the palms together. Bring your shoulder blades close to one another, opening your chest.

Post #10: Savasana (Corpse Pose)

yoga as migraine relief

Lay on your back with your legs and feet close together. Feet can fall out to the sides, arms at your side with palms facing up. Close your eyes, relaxing your entire body.

Please consult a healthcare professional before starting any exercise program to ensure safety.

References:

1) Waldman SD. Pain Management 2nd ed. Elsevier, 2011. Chapter 132; 967-975.

2) Latha , and Kaliappan K.V.: Efficacy of yoga therapy in the management of headaches. J Indian Psychol 1992; 10: pp. 41

3) John PJ, Sharma N, Sharma CM, Kankane Effectiveness of yoga therapy in the treatment of migraine without aura: a randomized controlled trial. Headache. 2007; 47: pp. 654

4) Sharma N, Sharma S, Verma A. Effectiveness of integrated yoga therapy in treatment of chronic migraine: randomized controlled trial. European Journal of Integrative Medicine 2010; 2(4): pp 194-194

5) Felicetti MJ. 10 Yoga poses to heal migraines. MindBodyGreen. 2013. http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-7256/10-yoga-poses-to-heal-migraines.html

Image Source:

All images from https://yoga.com/poses

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Naturopathic Doctor
Contributor to The Hearty Soul.
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