By Faye Martins
Do we learn anything in yoga teacher training for migraines? After successfully completing a yoga certification, many people ask about remedies for every type of pain and ache. There are many pains that humans feel, but headaches might be one of the most common. Among the various types of headaches is migraine. In 2007, a study published in the scholarly journal Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain concluded that migraine sufferers who practiced yoga for three months were significantly more likely to report a reduction in headache severity, frequency, and related symptoms like anxiety or depression. The authors of the study noted, too, that more research was warranted on the subject, and since then, several more studies have published results supporting the conclusion that yoga training can bring headache and migraine relief.
Migraines are often difficult to treat and can go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed in sufferers. Because of this difficulty in identifying this type of pain, researchers have struggled to determine a cause for the malady although agreement seems to have settled on changes in brain chemicals, particularly serotonin. Migraines attack with a range of symptoms that can vary from person to person and headache to headache. Symptoms include pain, an aura, nausea, dizziness, numbness in the face and extremities, and sensitivity to light and sound. Researchers have also been able to identify migraine triggers. Triggers, while not necessarily causing the migraine, often bring one on. Like symptoms, triggers can vary from headache to headache, but some common ones include high-intensity exercise, changes in sleeping patterns, viral infections like the flu, stress, certain foods, and menstrual periods or hormonal changes in women.
When Yoga Doesn’t Work
Many times, a person suffering from a migraine will do yoga thinking it might help eradicate the headache. Resting against the wall and closing the eyes while taking deep breaths is one pose that is helpful. Putting as much weight on the yoga mat as feasible without straining and breathing through the nose can also provide relief. It doesn’t matter if you have been meditating for decades; if you suddenly experience a sharp pain in your head while practicing Yoga, then stop what you are doing immediately. The best home remedy for migraines is to consume water and apply an ice pack to your forehead. People with chronic headaches should consult with their doctor first before trying any additional methods.
Sometimes patients get caught up in a pattern of migraines. For example, experiencing migraines during the middle of a sleep cycle. As a result, this patient is suffering from sleep deprivation. In order to prevent another episode and get some sleep, some patients may take medication at bedtime. This might not be doctor recommended, but it happens. Although migraine sufferers often take prescription drugs during the headache to reduce symptoms and intensity, most also practice complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) to prevent and reduce migraine frequency. Doctors suggest that exercise and relaxation techniques have a higher and more consistent success rate for reducing migraines, and that is why yoga works so well in migraine prevention.
Asanas for Prevention
Not only do many yoga poses include stretches for the neck, back, shoulder, and facial muscles, but the deep breathing techniques increase relaxation and diminish physical tension in these headache-causing areas. Tension in the cervical region can restrict blood flow to the brain, triggering a migraine, which is why stretching and relaxation together can successfully prevent headaches. However, gentle yoga is recommended and people rarely follow through with mental and/or physical exercises that prevent ailments.
Matching Treatment with Ailment
While asanas and breathing techniques are the main contributors to reducing migraines, yoga also offers other benefits. Since most migraine sufferers are less active than the rest of the population, for example, yoga represents a low-impact exercise activity that improves strength and cardiovascular health. As a result, migraine-sufferers who practice yoga training regularly have reported an improvement in their symptoms and in the frequency of their headaches.
While a reduction in symptoms may not seem like a very promising cure, if you have ever suffered from a migraine before, you know that this is a big deal! Even just one migraine’s prevention or one hour’s reduction of symptom intensity can go a long way to improving the quality of life for those struggling with these debilitating headaches. If you have recurring migraine headaches, yoga might be a good idea. Yoga will reduce your anxiety and stress, which is often a cause of headache pain. The tension released by the exercise will relax your entire body and help prevent headaches depending on what triggers your headaches.
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