The oxford dictionary defines migraine as, “A severe recurring headache, usually affecting only one side of the head, that is characterized by sharp pain and is often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and visual disturbances.”
The cause of migraine is still unknown; however, migraine is thought to be caused due to the result of abnormal brain activity temporarily affecting nerve signals, chemicals, and blood circulation.
Practicing pranayama and yoga for migraine headache brings quick relief, which is safe, easy, and is also prescribed by doctors and medical experts today. Pranayama and yoga also bring multiple other health benefits mentioned further below.
Yoga For Migraine
Many medications and antidepressants, and also other therapies like arterial surgery, muscle surgery, occipital nerve stimulation, have been prepared to get rid of this mysterious headache but it usually comes with its own side effects. Thus, people have started to look for alternative treatment of migraine, and here comes yoga for migraine headaches.
As the mind and body are correlated, the steadiness of the body calms the mind! And yoga helps to achieve the undisturbed balance of the body which in turn gives a peaceful state of mind and helps to cure migraines.
How Does Yoga Relieves Migraine?
Yoga combines all of the physical, mental, and spiritual practices that help us to achieve our higher possibility. Many people have this idea that yoga is meant only to attain flexibility and weight loss; however, yoga is much more.
And when it comes to dealing with mental stress, yoga could play a pivotal role by increasing blood circulation in the brain, relaxing the nervous system via the vagus nerve, and most importantly by maintaining the balance of hormones like dopamine, serotonin, and GABA, whose imbalance in the brain could result in serious mishaps.
Therefore, migraine is also a result of a certain imbalance in the brain, and yoga helps to fix this imbalance very gracefully and gently.
Pranayama Yoga For Migraine Relief
Whenever we are stressed, anxious, sad, and angry, we are asked to take deep long breaths. This advice is very effective and helpful, as it is also a type of pranayama.
It was seen that fast pranayama such as Kapalabhati and Bhastrika were shown to enhance sensory-motor performance, including manipulation in auditory working memory. While slow pranayama was beneficial for stress reduction and for improving cognitive functions.
Best Remedy For Quick Relief from Migraine
It is believed that our body consists of 72,000 Nadis or energy channels that circulate throughout our body. When these channels become blocked or constricted due to toxins, stress and our health begin to diminish, pain arises, and our mind and body weaken.
Inversely, when these channels are open and unobstructed, our health is robust and our mind and body are strong. Simply put, pranayama helps to open up the channels, which makes the flow of energy run smoothly throughout the body.
Anulom-Vilom/Nadi Shodhana (Alternate Nostril Breathing)
Nadi Shodhana should be practiced on a daily basis by everyone. As per, ‘Gheranda Samhita’ this technique is in fact preliminary to all other Pranayama techniques, as it will purify all the subtle energetic channels (Nadi) in the body and prepare the aspirant for the other mentioned Pranayama.
Bhramari is the Sanskrit word for “Honey Bee”. The bee produces a humming sound and in this Pranayama, we produce sounds and vibrations to connect to our mind, regulate our breath and bring deep relaxation.
The adjective Bhramari can also mean “sweet as honey” or “that which produces
ecstasy”. Bhramari has an immediate relaxing effect on the brain, as it can reduce mental tension and lower high blood pressure.
A renowned Yoga Guru from India says,
Do Anulom Vilom pranayama for at least 15 minutes daily. This pranayama is the most effective technique for migraine as it relieves stress.
Also, doing Bhramari pranayama, one can achieve peace of mind thus, keeping headaches and migraines at bay.
– Swami Ramdev
Read More: What is Pranayama?
10 Yoga Poses for Migraine Headache
Although, practicing pranayama alone would be extremely effective to relieve headaches and migraines. However, practicing yoga poses would seal “the protective layer against migraine” even further.
When you have a peaceful mind, it is unlikely you can get a migraine attack. And practicing yoga helps to have a happy and peaceful mind! So, here are some easy and effective yoga poses that are sure to help you cope up and finally get-rid-of migraine as a whole.
1. Hastapadasana (Standing Forward Bend)
This yoga pose is also commonly known as the Hand-to-Foot Pose, and by its name, it is very clear that in this pose, you are expected to bend your torso forward and touch your legs with your hands.
While doing this pose you need to make sure to keep your knees straight, hands on the feet or catching your ankle, and most importantly, your head much to touching your knee.
- Increases blood circulation to refresh your nervous system.
- Calms your mind.
- Improves focus and concentration.
- Effective to increase height.
- Reduces belly fat, and problems related to gastrointestinal tract like constipation, indigestion and for girls also helps to get rid of menstrual problems
- Strengthens spine and improves flexibility
2. Setu Bandhasana (Bridge Pose)
This pose is a shoulder-supported bridge that challenges your flexibility and patience. It is one of the asanas which is a part of hatha yoga.
This pose helps to stretch the neck, thorax, and vertebral column.
- It helps to stretch the vertebral column which in turn causes the release of endorphins (anti-stress hormones)and this relaxes the brain
- Helps to eliminate mental stress and depression
- Improves blood circulation
- Improves flexibility by stretching the chest, neck, spine, and hips
- Improve digestion
3. Shishuasana (Child Pose)
One of the best yoga for migraine, in this pose, you are expected to lie calmly like a child and let your brain relax.
You can gain lots of benefits from this pose if you perform it in the morning in the open air.
- Being curled up makes one aware of the breathing pattern, and in turn, focusing on the breathing helps relax the mind.
- This pose helps to reduce stress and anxiety, which brings relief to the mind.
- This is a resting pose so it helps relax the body and regulated breathing helps restore you to a state of calmness.
- Making the body, this pose also helps to relieve your body of fatigue.
- The pose helps lengthen and stretch out the spine and also gently stretches the ankles, hips, and shoulders, thus easing neck and back pain.
4. Marjariasana (Cat Stretch)
Marjariasana or cat pose is an asana where Marjari means cat and asana means posture or pose. This asana is very pivotal to give an amazing feline stretch to the body.
This pose, from its name, is clear, is inspired by a cat and it directly impacts the spinal cord and helps to stretch and relax it with every in and out respiration.
- Stretches the vertebral column and spinal cord and helps to relax the mind
- Is very essential to relieving backache
- Helps in improving the circulation throughout the body and especially in the brain
- Improves digestion by massaging the digestive tract and digestive organs
- Helps to focus on the breath and calms the mind and body
5. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
This pose is one of the poses of Surya Namaskar and is of no doubt, that it helps to strengthen the back by stretching it to the fullest.
Moreover, even the hamstrings are stretched out in this pose, but you need to remember to keep the knees straight while doing this pose.
- Improves circulation of blood in the brain, as the body is in inverted V posture, the heart lies above the head and this position helps to improve the blood flow
- Strengthens your core muscles
- Improves your body posture, which in turn improves your spine posture and helps to revitalize your nervous system
- Strengthens your arm, and makes it toned and slim
- Strengthens your bones
6. Padmasana (Lotus Pose)
In this pose, you are expected to keep your legs crossed and knees bend in such a way that each foot is on top of the other leg’s thigh. Many yogis have this posture during meditation and many ancient pictures show god and goddess placed in this posture.
There is a reason why this posture is so popular when it comes to mediation. This posture helps to hold the body steady and straight for a long time, and the steadiness of the body calms the mind. Moreover, this posture is sure to make you aware of your breathing, and awareness of the breathing process also helps to steady the mind.
- Calms the mind and helps the brain to focus on the breath
- Increases awareness and attentiveness
- Keeps the spine straight for a longer duration and helps to keep the body steady
- Restores energy level
- Opens up the hips which can provide immense help for the delivery of the baby
- Relaxes joint and ligament
7. Paschimottanasana (Two-legged Forward Bend)
This pose is an intense dorsal stretch in a seated forward-bending position belonging to hatha yoga. For those who have difficulty touching the leg with their hands, first trying to touch the legs could be an essential step before doing this asana.
In order to fully and correctly do this pose, you need to keep your knees straight and your head must be in contact with your knees.
- Reliefs both physical and mental stress ( physical stress is relieved by an intense stretch of muscle and then relaxation, while the intense stretch releases endorphins which is a stress reveling hormone that helps to calm the mind)
- Soothes headache and anxiety and reduces fatigue due to the above phenomenon
- Helps to achieve a lean posture, especially by slimming down the calf muscle
- Therapeutic for high blood pressure, infertility, insomnia, and sinusitis
- Improves digestion
8. Bhujangasana ( Cobra Pose)
This pose is one of the asanas of Surya Namaskar and is very essential when it comes to curing the migraine as it helps to stretch the vertebral column and relax the nervous system.
- Elevates mood and also reduces stress and fatigue
- Improves the flexibility of the body
- Stretches the thoracic muscle and helps to strengthen lungs and clear the passage of respiration
- Improves the circulation of blood
- Soothes sciatica
9. Sarvangasana (The Shoulder Stand)
This pose is known as the shoulder stand as the bodyweight is held in the position by bearing weight on the shoulders.
Compared to a headstand, this pose is quite easy and much risk-free.
- Improves blood circulation
- Restores hormonal balance and this could be one of the reasons why it helps in curing migraine
- Improves strength and flexibility
- Reduces varicose vein
- Helps to delay the aging process by reducing wrinkle formation and decreasing hair loss
10. Shavasana (Corpse Pose)
This pose is actually a resting pose after doing some intense yoga or pranayama. Similarly, Shavasana is one of the easiest poses to do as it requires no physical strength or excursion; however, this pose is one of the hardest ones to master.
- In this pose, sensory stimulation and external distractions are ultimately minimized to help the body completely relax
- Increase the ability to notice things like the body’s breathing and heartbeat as well as form calmer and more relaxed states as it increases interception and awareness of internal body
- Helps in improving creativity as the meditative state of yoga in Shavasana has been shown to help slow the active beta brainwaves in favor of the slower states of alpha and theta brainwaves
- This pose helps to relax the muscular and skeletal tension
- Shavasana provides an opportunity to explore the fifth limb of yoga: pratyahara (Very simplified, pratyahara is withdrawing from the senses and gaining mastery over external influences) which helps to make you strong spiritually
Trying medication or meditation (including yoga) is completely dependent on the person suffering from migraines. However, trying yoga to help you through your mental tantrum can eventually help to get rid of the migraine from the core.
Reference: NHS | The Art Of Living | NDTV Food | Migraine Buddy