There are many causes of headaches, tension being the most common as it causes constant contraction of the head and neck muscles. By including the following postures in your regular yoga practice you can help prevent headaches from developing, or use them to ease the discomfort as soon as you feel one starting.
Sasangasana ( The Hare Pose ) : For preventing migraines, go into the full Hare Pose. Follow the pose by leaning back. This will also help to clear sinus headaches.
Caution: If you have high blood pressure, do the pose with your arms down.
Sasangasana variation: Place hands under the shoulders, touch the top of the head to the floor. On the exhale, roll head forward to stretch the back of the neck. On the inhale, roll back again until your forehead touches the floor.
Caution: Avoid if you have neck fragility such as osteoporosis.
Benefits: Soothes cranial nerves and brings fresh blood to the neck muscles.
Adho Mukha Svanasana( Downward Facing Dog) with forehead on a block: Let gravity draw the pain down into the earth. The pressure of the block will soothe the anja chakra.
Benefits: Relieves tension in the neck muscles and releases the prickly energy of concerns from the neck.
Viparita Karani: This posture reverses the blood flow, positions the heart on a level with the head and relaxes the central nervous system.
Pranayama: Lengthen your exhalation until it is twice the length of your inhalation ie if you are inhaling for a count of six, exhale for eight, making sure you do not strain your breathing. When we exhale too rapidly we lose carbon dioxide from the body – the arteries in the brain constrict, reducing the blood flow and aggravating headaches.
Written by Sandra Smith and published in Yoga Awakening Magazine, Issue 6