yoga teacher trainingBy Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

Since most headaches are caused by tension, which is caused by stress, Yoga should be at the top of the list of headache relief and prevention strategies. Most people carry their tension in the back, shoulders and neck, and this can create a contraction of muscles around the neck and jaw as well as reduced blood flow to the brain. The result is often a tension headache.

Those who experience frequent or debilitating tension headaches may have have poor posture that includes a rounded upper back and a neck that holds the head forward of the neck and shoulders. There are a variety of Yoga techniques designed to address this problem by opening the chest, stretching the neck, and extending the spine. These Yoga techniques, when practiced regularly, have a two-fold effect. First, they make practitioners more aware of their body, and thus, their posture will improve.

The second effect is accomplished by stretching these muscles into correct posture on a regular basis, Yoga practitioners can improve their neck and back alignment and increase blood flow to the brain. Since both of these effects influence neck and spinal tension, a consistent Yoga practice can serve to both relieve tension headaches and prevent their return.

Targeted Yoga Poses to Relieve Headaches

As with all Yoga poses, practitioners targeting headache relief should focus on breathing deeply and slowly and keep the muscles in the jaw, mouth, and tongue relaxed.

  1. Child’s Pose rests the upper back and releases the neck of its responsibility to hold the head upright.
  2. Downward Dog increases blood circulation to the brain while using the weight of the head to stretch the neck and upper back.
  3. Supported Forward Bend releases the neck and stretches its muscles.
  4. Half Forward Bend helps to stretch the lower back, a relatively difficult region to address.
  5. Corpse Pose is designed to ensure that Yoga practitioners relax completely, holding no muscles tight or tense.

Targeted Yoga Poses to Prevent Headaches

Practitioners should realize that a consistent Yoga practice can help prevent headaches, and frequent headache sufferers should consider targeting some of their regular Yoga routine toward headache prevention.

  1. Bridge Pose helps to open up the chest and can work toward re-training muscles that influence poor posture.
  2. Garudasana arms can help stretch the area between the shoulder blades, where tension frequently comes to rest.
  3. Gomukhasana arms stretches the shoulders, and it can also correct the rounded upper back and forward-leaning neck that contributes to tension headaches.
  4. Simple Seated Twist will stretch the neck muscles and relieve strained muscles in the back.

© Copyright 2012 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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