Nothing can put a damper on your day like a pounding headache. Whether you wake up with one or it creeps up on you during the workday, a headache is a telltale sign that stress has reared its ugly head, and blood is not flowing through the body as it should. The good news is staving off a headache can be done naturally.
STEP 1: Get rid of the stress. Now, ultimately this may require ridding your life of some people or a stressful job, but…baby steps. Let’s start with a little yoga, shall we?

Yoga gently releases tension in the body, improving blood circulation and allowing oxygen to flow to the brain.

So much of our days are spent upright, with blood pooling at our feet. Sometimes it’s beneficial to reverse course and bathe the veins, cells and organs in our upper body with fresh, oxygenated blood.
The next time you feel the tension build and a headache start, skip the pills and hit the mat with some simple yoga poses.

What’s happening during a headache?

When you have a headache, the muscles or blood vessels in the head swell or tighten, causing the surrounding nerves to send a rush of pain messages to the brain, and this brings on a headache.

What causes headaches?

A variety of factors can spark a headache:

  • infections (such as ear infections, viruses like the flu or a cold, strep throat, meningitis, or sinus infections)
  • stress
  • dehydration
  • weather changes
  • computer or TV watching
  • smoking
  • caffeine (can cause caffeine-withdrawal headaches)
  • not eating
  • not getting enough sleep or sudden changes in sleep patterns
  • allergies
  • some medications
  • vision impairments
  • some foods (such as alcohol, cheese, nuts, pizza, chocolate, ice cream, fatty or fried food, lunch meats and hot dogs, yogurt, aspartame, and MSG)

Yoga Poses for Headaches

Child’s Pose

  • Come to a kneeling position on the floor with your heels under your buttocks and your knees wide.
  • Sit back on your heels, resting your torso on your thighs. Place your forehead as close to the floor as possible.
  • Place your hands flat on the floor. Spread the fingers apart and stretch the arms gently forward.
  • Release any tension in your neck and shoulders.
  • Close your eyes. Relax and breathe smoothly for 10 deep breaths.

Standing Forward Fold

  • Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Take a deep breath in, then exhale as you bend forward from the hips.
  • Reach for your knees, shins, toes or floor.
  • Aim to press your chest against your thighs.
  • Shake your head “yes” and “no” to relax the muscles in your head and neck.
  • Hold the pose for 10 deep breaths.

Spinal Twist

  • Lie on your back with your knees bend. Tighten your stomach.
  • Gently rock your legs from side to side.
  • Exhale allowing your legs to fall to the right. Inhale using your core to raise them to the center. Exhale allowing them to fall to the left. Inhale using your core to raise them back to center. Repeat this several times.
  • Exhale allowing the legs to fall to the left making sure that the legs are stacked on top of each other. Turn your head, neck and navel to the left. Try to keep both shoulders on the ground.
  • Your arms should be out to the side away from the body with the palms upward.
  • Hold for 5 counts.
  • Repeat the other side.

Legs Up a Wall

  • Perform this pose near a wall. Lie on your back.
  • Raise the legs up and lie them flat against the wall.
  • Lay the arms along the sides of the body.
  • Relax and breathe deeply for 5-20 minutes.

Cat/Cow Pose

  • Kneel on your hands and knees, looking straight ahead.
  • Place your knees hip width apart with your hands below your shoulders. Keep the elbows slightly bent.
  • Inhale while arching your back up like a cat. Your head should be facing down, chin to chest.
  • Exhale while sloping your back in reverse. Your head should look upwards. Turn the head from left to right looking over the shoulders, getting a deep stretch in the neck.

Corpse Pose

  • Lay down on your mat. Allow your legs to relax wide and your arms to fall to the sides and away from your body.
  • Scan your body mentally. Relax and release all tension from the body. Breathe easily, inhaling and exhaling slowly.
  • Lay in corpse pose for as long as you desire.
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