yoga teacher training courseBy Faye Martins

Yoga teachers learn to create lesson plans as prescriptions for ailments.  Among the common ailments, which nag at humans, are headaches.  Almost every person on this planet has experienced a mild or severe headache at one time or another.  Over the counter pain killers are a huge industry and their main use is for headaches.  Although this subject is not usually mentioned in a foundational 200-hour yoga teacher training, it should be.  The concept of a pain free day by practicing natural yogic techniques should be taught to the public.

A Global Problem

Many millions of people, around the world, suffer from headaches on a daily basis, which can make day-to-day activity nearly impossible. The majority turns to over the counter medicines for a quick cure, or even prescription drugs. However all the medicine does is mask the pain, and it does come back. No one wants to be a slave to medicines for the rest of their lives. The three main types are the tension, sinus, and the dreaded migraine. Basic symptoms include pain, nausea, light sensitivity, anxiety, muscle tension, and sleeplessness.

Thanks to the ever-growing trend in holistic and all natural remedies, more people are turning from pills to yoga as a form of headache relief. The good news is that regular practice can provide a long-term cure to those who practice regularly. Not only that, it can give them a healthier overall lifestyle including more energy, flexibility, and a better body image.  Yoga instructors should be aware of which asanas and pranayama techniques help relieve headaches.

Short List of Techniques for Relief

Here are some, but not all of the ideal poses and the reason they effective for the purpose of reducing or eliminating pain in the head.  Each technique has the ability to give relief, but some inversions can make it worse is a student has high blood pressure (HBP) or eye problems.  You most likely covered contraindications and precautions for inversions in your previous yoga teacher training courses, but should review them in the case where you have to modify a technique.

Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskar) – gets the whole body warmed up and activated, lengthens the spine, relieves pressure on the stomach, and activates the endocrine system.

Downward Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) – Increases blood flow to the sinuses.

Cobra Posture (Bhujangasana) – relieves pressure in the neck, shoulders, and spine.

Wind Releasing Pose ((Pavanamuktasana) – relieves cramps and aching muscles from the neck to the toes.

Shoulder Stand (Sarvangasana) – helps blood flow, corrects posture, and encourages stimulation of the endocrine glands.

Kapalabhati – clears respiratory tract, including sinus and helps circulation.

Chin Lock (Jalahandhara Bandha) – benefits the head, neck and shoulder areas.

Again, these are just a few techniques that can help students who are suffering from chronic headaches. Basically any pose that concentrates on the neck, shoulders, and back will be beneficial. Not to mention, yoga in general calms the mind, body and spirit and decreases stress. In combination with these poses, it is always important to consume a healthy diet, maintain a good sleep routine, and include regular yoga practice. Instructors should encourage their students to practice at least three times a week for effective headache symptom relief.


Chronic pain should be checked by visiting with a medical doctor.  Chronic pain may be a warning from the body to the mind that it is time to see a medical professional.  Rather than give you a list of potential medical problems, let’s send our students to their doctors, when they run into chronic medical problems.  No level of yoga certification credential can diagnose an underlying problem that could be detected by medical instruments.  As a yoga teacher, you can offer good adjunct therapy that reduces the consumption of over the counter pain killers, but we have our limits.

© Copyright 2012 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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