Teaching Yoga: Headache Relief

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Teaching Yoga: Headache Relief

yoga trainingBy Kimaya Singh

When teaching students with ailments, there should be an encyclopedia that would compile suggested pranayama techniques and asanas for each condition. Can you imagine the size that book would be? Each of us has manuals, notes, texts, and study guides from our yoga teacher training courses, but we need comprehensive medical studies for every ailment.  Many yoga instructors still do trial and error methods.

When someone is suffering from a headache they feel the pain in different areas of the head and neck. It can also spread to the back and other areas of the body due to tension. It is important to discuss with students where they are experiencing the pain, and determine what type of headache they have in order to instruct them on the specific moves they can use to relieve their pain and return to some sort of normalcy. Not only that, but it is imperative, as always, to instruct them on correct breathing techniques as well as train them in the art of focus and mindfulness. Every good yoga instructor has their student’s best interests at heart and will create a place in class where they can not only relax, but tackle whatever issues they may have in their mind, heart, and soul.

Almost every technique can be beneficial in relieving headaches when practicing yoga training, but gaining some insight to these specific yogic techniques can help yoga teachers explain what works and what can irritate, when it comes to headaches. When considering what to avoid, hot or flowing yoga might be a problem, but many loyal practitioners would beg to differ. Each of us is different and anything that makes a headache worse should be avoided.

Below is a short list of yoga techniques for headaches.

• Legs up the Wall – This asana is perfect for getting to that place where your mind is quiet, and becoming ready to focus. It is important to keep the legs up, not necessarily at a 90 degree angle. Also be sure the shoulders are gliding away from the head and pressed gently to the floor.

• Standing Forward Bend – There is some belief that when bent upside down, gravity provides relief from pain, including headache pressure. So really anything that inverts you might provide relief. In forward bend, just hang at a comfortable place and slowly move head left to right and in a nodding motion to release pressure and loosen the tissues of the neck. If this method doesn’t give you relief there is no need to continue, but some practitioners swear it works.

• Reclining Twist – This is a simple move in which you keep the right shoulder down while twisting left, and vice versa. It is a gentle and relaxing asana, giving the yoga teacher a chance to instruct the student about proper breathing and self-awareness.

• Bhramari Pranayama – This is a widely used method to relieve headache pressure. Sit with legs crossed, close your ears gently with thumbs, place both index fingers on the forehead, and rest the other three fingers on your face with two over each eye. Breathe in slowly and breathe out with a hum.

Also advise students to drink plenty of water and limit their interaction with technology. This practice, along with a healthy diet and plenty of rest should have them feeling better.

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One Comment

  1. Margaret August 24, 2015 at 3:38 pm

    LLegs up the wall not suitable for people with thyroid eye disease, glaucoma, hypertension etc.
    Forward bends should be avoided. Headaches can be caused by other medical conditions. A teacher must know what causes headaches before encouraging the class members to work on asanas that can cause further harm.

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