Yoga and meditation can help with fitness and mindfulness, but there are additional benefits. These activities can help you with migraines, headaches, and other types of pain. Yoga has the ability to help you:
- Alleviate stress, which is a common source of headaches, migraines, and pain.
- Sleep better, as sleep deprivation can cause or worsen headaches and migraines.
- Support better posture, as poor posture is an agitator of migraines and headaches.
- Reduce muscle tightness, as tension in your back, shoulders, and neck can be a contributor to migraines and headaches. Keep in mind that there is often an interconnection between neck and shoulder musculature and headaches. 70% of patients with migraine get neck pain and stiffness associated with their migraine attacks. Conversely, if there is significant tightness and spasm in these muscles, they can irritate the nerves in the back of the head (occipital nerves), and this can also contribute to headaches and migraines. So targeting these muscles to get them to relax can be very helpful.
There was a study published which looked at adding on yoga therapy in combination with standard migraine medical treatments. The study results concluded that yoga as an add-on therapy in migraine was superior to medical treatment alone. Therefore, it was suggested to integrate yoga as a cost-effective and safe intervention into the management of migraine. Other prospective randomized open label trials, systematic reviews, and meta-analyses have shown yoga to decrease headache frequency, headache pain intensity, and headache duration in both migraine and tension type headaches.
Tips for Starting Yoga To Improve Headaches, Migraines, and Pain
If you are thinking about starting yoga to improve your headaches, migraines, or pain, there are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Always speak with your doctor before beginning to see if it is a good fit for you.
- Consider a beginner’s class if you are new to yoga.
- Check with the instructor to tell them about your headaches, migraines, or pain. They can recommend good poses or even modify certain poses so that they do not contribute to agitating your headaches or migraines.
- Avoiding certain types of poses, like inversion, can reduce the likelihood of causing a headache.
Yoga Poses That Your Instructor Might Recommend To Reduce Headaches, Migraines, and Pain
There are a few poses that many yoga instructors might recommend if you suffer from headaches, migraines, or pain. These include:
- Child’s pose: This pose can reduce tension in your upper body.
- Cat and cow pose: This pose increases circulation, as well as reduces tension in your shoulders and back.
- Seated forward fold: This pose opens up your shoulders and stretches out your back, a great way to relieve the tension in these areas of your body that causes headaches.
- Legs up the wall: This pose helps blood flow towards your brain, which can help alleviate an existing headache.
- Savasana: This pose uses the ground below your body to provide throughout and can increase oxygen to your brain, alleviating an existing headache or migraine.
Not only are the poses that go along with migraines beneficial, but some of the other techniques that go along with yoga, like breathing can help with headaches and migraines. Alternate nostril breathing is a common way to calm the mind and relieve stress. Yoga also helps tames the anxiety center of the brain, which is another way to relieve stress.
Meditation for Headaches, Migraines, and Pain
Meditation reduces stress and can possibly impact the severity of headaches and migraines. A recent study by the NIH was conducted that found several interesting results when meditation was used for headache and migraine sufferers:
- The frequency and intensity of headaches and migraines could potentially decrease as a result of meditation.
- People who practiced meditation had a decreased use of non-opioid medications over time.
The benefits of meditation for headaches and migraines include:
- The ability to potentially lower stress levels, a key driver of headaches and migraines.
- An improved pain tolerance with the onset of headaches and migraines.
- A reduction in the frequency and intensity of headache, migraines, and other types of pain.
- A better quality of life.
Meditation and migraine were studied in 92 patients and results were published. Over 30 days, the frequency of migraines decreased significantly. Medication usage was also significantly lower in the meditation group.
Different Types of Meditation Techniques To Try For Headaches, Migraines, and Pain
There are several different types of meditation techniques that you can try that can potentially help with stress reduction. These different techniques can also take your thoughts off of your headache, migraine, or pain.
This type of meditation has its origins in Buddhism and is one of the most popular meditation techniques to try. When practicing mindfulness meditation, you will focus on your thoughts, as well as sensations, thoughts, and feelings.
This type of meditation involves visualizing positive scenes and images and focusing on them. Another type of thing to focus on with visualization meditation is thoughts and scenes of where your headache, migraine, or pain has subsided.
This type of meditation is common to help you relax before you sleep and involves reducing tension in the body and promoting an overall sense of relaxation. This technique also involves “scanning” your body to isolate areas of pain and tension. When focusing on the head, shoulders, and neck, this technique can be particularly effective in reducing the intensity of headaches and migraines.
This technique involves changing your surroundings. You can take a walk, practice gardening, or even exercise while being aware of sensations and feelings within your body. Movement meditation can help reduce stress, which may in turn, alleviate the onset of headaches, migraines, and other types of pain.
Additional Benefits of Meditation
Meditation indirectly reduces the onset and severity of headaches, migraines, and other types of pain. However, there are several additional health benefits, over time, that come along with meditation practices:
- Meditation has the power to reduce blood pressure, which can be a driver of headaches and other chronic diseases, like diabetes. High blood pressure is also the leading cause of stroke.
- Anxiety is a condition that can be potentially alleviated by meditation.
- Meditation can also increase feelings of self-worth, which can help overcome depression.
- Sleep can be aided by meditation and improved sleep can also help reduce the onset of headaches, migraines, and pain.
Reducing Tension, Stress, and Anxiety
Overall, meditation and yoga are an array of techniques that you can use to reduce stress, tension, and anxiety in your body. These are things that can contribute to headaches. Yoga may help increase blood flow in the body, which can also help reduce headaches, migraines, and pain.
Overall, it is best to consult your doctor when considering treatments for headaches, as yoga is an advanced technique that you should work with an instructor on.
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