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12 Yoga Poses for Neck Pain

Here are some of the yoga poses that may be beneficial in relieving neck pain.

Standing forward bend pose

  1. Come into a standing position with your feet under your hips.
  2. Lengthen your body as you fold your upper body forward, keeping a slight bend in your knees.
  3. Bring your hands to your legs, a block, or the floor.
  4. Tuck your chin in to your chest, and let your head and neck fully relax.
  5. You can gently shake your head from side to side, front to back, or make gentle circles. This helps to release tension in your neck and shoulders.
  6. Hold this position for at least 1 minute.
  7. Bring your arms and head up last as you roll your spine up to standing.

Warrior II pose

Warrior II allows you to open and strengthen your chest and shoulders to support your neck.

  1. From standing, bring your left foot back with your toes facing out to the left at a slight angle.
  2. Bring your right foot forward.
  3. The inside of your left foot should be in line with your right foot.
  4. Bring up your arms until they’re parallel to the floor, with your palms facing down.
  5. Bend your right knee, being careful not to extend your knee further forward than your ankle.
  6. Press into both feet as you extend up through your spine.
  7. Look out past your right fingertips.
  8. Remain in this pose for 30 seconds.
  9. Then do the opposite side.

Extended triangle pose

Triangle pose helps to relieve pain and tension in your neck, shoulders, and upper back.

  1. Jump, step, or walk your feet apart so that they’re wider than your hips.
  2. Turn your right toes forward and your left toes out at an angle.
  3. Bring your arms up so they’re parallel to the floor with your palms facing down.
  4. Reach forward with your right arm as you hinge at your right hip.
  5. From here, lower your right arm and lift your left arm up toward the ceiling.
  6. Turn your gaze in any direction or you can do gentle neck rotations looking up and down.
  7. Remain in this pose for 30 seconds.
  8. Then do it on the other side.

Cat cow pose

Flexing and extending the neck allows for the release of tension.

  1. Begin on all fours with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.
  2. On an inhale, allow your belly to fill with air and lower toward the floor.
  3. Look up at the ceiling as you let your head drop back slightly.
  4. Keep your head here or lower your chin slightly.
  5. On an exhale, turn to look over your right shoulder.
  6. Hold your gaze here for a few moments and then return to center.
  7. Exhale to look over your left shoulder.
  8. Hold that position before returning to center.
  9. From here, tuck your chin into your chest as you round your spine.
  10. Hold this position, letting your head hang down.
  11. Shake your head from side to side and forward and backward.
  12. After these variations, continue the fluid motion of cat cow pose for at least 1 minute.

Thread the needle pose

This pose helps to relieve tension in your neck, shoulders, and back.

  1. Start on all fours with your wrists under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.
  2. Lift your right hand and move it over to the left along the floor with your palm facing up.
  3. Press your left hand into the floor for support as your rest your body on your right shoulder and look over to the left.
  4. Remain in this position for 30 seconds.
  5. Slowly release, sink back into Child’s Pose (see below) for a few breaths, and repeat on the other side.

Cow face pose

Cow face pose helps to stretch and open your chest and shoulders.

  1. Come into a comfortable seated position.
  2. Raise your left elbow and bend your arm so your hand comes to your back.
  3. Use your right hand to gently pull your left elbow over to the right, or bring your right hand up to reach and hold your left hand.
  4. Remain in this pose for 30 seconds.
  5. Then do it on the other side.

Half lord of the fishes pose

This twist stretches the spine, shoulders, and hips.

  1. From a seated position, bring your right foot along the floor to the outside of your left hip.
  2. Bend your left knee and cross it over your right leg so that your left foot is “rooted” into the floor to the outside of your right thigh.
  3. Lengthen your spine and then twist your upper body to the left.
  4. Place your left hand on the floor behind your buttocks.
  5. Bring your right arm to the outside of your left leg.
  6. Turn your head to look over either shoulder, or do gentle neck movements forward and backward.
  7. Stay in this pose for 1 minute.
  8. Then do it on the opposite side.

Sphinx pose

Sphinx pose strengthens your spine and stretches your shoulders.

  1. Lie down flat on your stomach with your elbows under your shoulders, pressing into your palms and forearms.
  2. Tighten your lower back, buttocks, and thighs to support you as you lift your upper torso and head.
  3. Keep your gaze straight ahead and make sure you’re lengthening your spine.
  4. Hold this pose for 2 minutes.

Extended puppy pose

This pose is great for relieving stress and stretching your back and shoulders.

  1. Begin on all fours with your wrists directly below your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips.
  2. Walk your hands forward slightly and lift your heels to come up onto your toes.
  3. Slowly bring your buttocks down toward your heels, stopping halfway down.
  4. Engage your arms and keep your elbows lifted.
  5. Rest your forehead on the floor or a blanket.
  6. Allow your neck to fully relax.
  7. Keep your lower back slightly bent as you press into your palms, stretching your arms, and drawing your hips down toward your heels.
  8. Hold for 1 minute.

Child’s pose

Child’s pose can help to relieve neck pain as well as a headache.

  1. From a kneeling position, sit back on your heels and bring your knees to a comfortable position.
  2. Lengthen your spine and walk your hands in front of you, hinging your hips so that you can fold forward.
  3. Keep your arms extended in front you to support your neck, or you can stack your hands and rest your head on them. This may help to relieve headache tension. If it’s comfortable, bring your arms back to lie along the side of your body.
  4. Breathe deeply and focus on letting go of any tension or tightness you’re holding in your body.
  5. Rest in this pose for a few minutes.

Legs-up-the-wall pose

This restorative pose has amazing healing potential and can help to relieve tension in your back, shoulders, and neck.

  1. From a seated position, scoot forward on your hips toward a wall. When you are close to the wall, lie back and swing your legs up and against the wall.
  2. You can place a folded blanket or pillow under your hips for support.
  3. Bring your arms into any comfortable position.
  4. You may wish to gently massage your face, neck, and shoulders.
  5. Stay in this pose for up to 20 minutes.

Corpse pose

Allow yourself time at the end of your practice to relax in corpse pose. Focus on letting go of any remaining stress and tension in your body.

  1. Lie down on your back with your feet a little wider than your hips and your toes splayed out to the side.
  2. Rest your arms alongside your body with your palms facing up.
  3. Adjust your body so that your head, neck, and spine are aligned.
  4. Focus on breathing deeply and releasing any tightness in your body.
  5. Remain in this pose for at least 5 minutes.

5 Yoga Poses to Reduce Tension Headaches

If you’re prone to headaches, you probably know some of the triggers: Stress, lack of sleep, hunger, allergies, sinus problems or eye strain. But have you considered that your posture, and a lack of oxygen, could bring on your headaches?

Many people sit or stand with rounded shoulders and head jutted forward. Poor posture affects your respiratory system and blood circulation to the brain; which can cause muscle tension—resulting in a headache.

More: How to Prevent a Headache

If your headaches arise from tension, then you might want to consider yoga.

Yoga helps ease tension headaches by relaxing muscles in your head, back, and neck, boosting circulation to your brain and upper body, and improving your posture.

The best time to treat a headache is at the first sign of the pain, before the muscles go into spasm. To reduce the amount of headaches you experience, incorporate the following yoga poses into your daily routine.

More: Headaches 101

Simple Seated Twist

How to:

  • Sit straight on the edge of a chair.
  • Plant the feet firmly on the floor.
  • Press the buttocks down into the chair seat.
  • Cross your right leg on top of your left at the knee.
  • Take your right arm to the back of the chair and your left hand to your right knee.
  • Turn from the belly to the right on the exhalation.
  • Keep your shoulders down and your chest open.
  • Relax your eyes, jaw and tongue.
  • Hold for 10 seconds breathing evenly.
  • Return to center and repeat on the opposite side.

More: Pose of the Month: Straddle Forward Bend Twist

5 yoga poses for tension headaches

I just happen to know a thing or two about yoga and a LOT about headaches as I’ve suffered them most of my life. It was actually my headaches that got me started with yoga. I’ve gone from having chronic daily headaches to maybe just one or two a month and I attribute it all to yoga. For all those headache sufferers out there who are tired and fed up, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Gentle yoga, relaxation and meditation can be really natural cures to chronic tension headaches.

Learn how to relax

My biggest piece of advice is learning how to relax. It sounds so easy but for someone in pain or with chronic tension it is frustratingly hard to do, but it can be done. Start with being aware of your body and where the tension resides. Consciously relax your jaw, this is a biggie for Temporo Mandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ) sufferers. You also need to be aware of your shoulders rising up towards your ears and make a conscious effort to draw your shoulder blades down your back. Posture is another biggie, if you’re constantly slouching, you’re constantly straining your back muscles which will create tension headaches.

Ditch the panadol and roll out your yoga mat

These poses are more for prevention and should be done daily if you get daily headaches. If you need to take pain killers, go for it (they’ve certainly been a life saver for me) but they’re just a band aid, prevention is much better.

1. Get upside down either in Uttanasana or Wide-leg standing forward fold. The leg position is just personal preference, but the goal here is to decompress your upper back and neck. Do this for 20 deep breaths and really let your head hand and your neck relax. This is not recommended for pregnant people and if you feel dizzy, come out sooner.

UttanasanaPadottanasana

2. Neck stretches. Gently drop one ear to the shoulder and reach out with the opposite hand to feel the stretch into the whole neck and upper arm. Be gentle, but hold this pose for 30 breaths.

3. Shoulder release. You can do Eagle Arms (with elbows crossed in front of your face to stretch the rhomboids and trapezius) , Cow Face Arms ( being one hand between your shoulder blades with the elbow pointing up and reach around with your other hand behind your back to either grab your fingers or your clothing, then puff your chest open) or interlace your fingers behind your back and open the chest.

Eagle ArmsCow Face PoseInterlaced fingers

4. Cat and lion – so simple yet so effective to release tension from the spine.

LionCat

5. Melting heart pose with the elbows bent and palms to a prayer behind your head.

Melting heart with prayer hands

What to do when the headache has started

Once the freight train of a cracking headache is heading to your station, you might want to try these things:

1. Have a drink of water

2. Put a heat pack on your neck or shoulders

3. Give your temples, jaw or the back of your head a massage

4. Ground your forehead in child’s pose

5. Try out one of Cranio Cradles on sale at the studio.

Help for chronic pain sufferers

I’m gauging interest from people with chronic pain conditions such as TMJ, migraines, headaches, chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia to see if they’d be interested in a four week Relaxation and Stress Management course at the studio. Please contact me at [email protected] if you’re interested.

Monica xx

Yoga to cure migraine and headache

Migraine is a neurological disorder that causes recurring headaches ranging from moderate to high intensity. Typically, it affects only one half of the head and can last from 2 hours to up to more than 2 days. When under a migraine attack, the sufferer may become extremely sensitive towards light or noise. Other common symptoms include vomiting, nausea and pain aggravation due to physical activity.

According to a report by the National Institute of Health, migraine is the 3rd most prevalent and 7th leading cause of disability worldwide. It is also believed that migraine is the most common neurological condition and is more common than asthma, epilepsy, and diabetes combined.

How to treat migraine

If you have been suffering from head-splitting ache for years or have recently been diagnosed with migraine, there are ways other than medication to help overcome your pain. Arterial surgery, muscle surgery, Occipital nerve stimulation, Botox, beta-blockers, and antidepressants are a few of the various preventive methods available to fight migraine attacks.

But beware as not all of these methods come without side-effects. Opting for some of these methods may increase the risk of hypotension, heart attacks, insomnia, and nausea to name a few.

So, is there a natural way to fight against migraine without hurting the body in the process?

Luckily, yes. The answer is Yoga.

Explore how Sri Sri Yoga can transform your life

8 Yoga poses to relieve migraines

Yoga is an ancient technique that promotes holistic living through a combination of postures and breathing techniques. Yoga is a side-effect-free method to fight migraine. Practicing these simple yoga postures for a few minutes every day will help prepare you better for the next migraine attack:

  • Hastapadasana (Standing Forward Bend)
  • Setu Bandhasana (Bridge Pose)
  • Shishuasana (Child Pose)
  • Marjariasana (Cat Stretch)
  • Paschimottanasana (Two-legged Forward Bend)
  • Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
  • Padmasana (Lotus Pose)
  • Shavasana (Corpse Pose)

The Standing Forward Bend invigorates the nervous system by increasing blood supply and also calms the mind.

The Bridge Pose calms the brain and reduces anxiety.

The Child Pose calms down the nervous system and effectively reduces the pain.

The Cat Stretch improves blood circulation and also relaxes the mind.

The Two-Legged Forward Bend calms the brain and relieves stress. This yoga posture also relieves headache.

The Downward Facing Dog Pose increases blood circulation to the brain and thus relieves headache.

The Lotus Pose relaxes the mind and alleviates headache.

The Corpse Pose rejuvenates the body by bringing it into a deep state of meditative rest. You can end the yoga routine by lying down in this pose for a couple of minutes.

Migraine attacks cause unbearable pain and can hamper one’s personal as well as professional life. Explaining your situation to family, friends, and colleagues will encourage moral and emotional support from them. It will also help them have an open-minded view of your situation.

Yoga is a means to make your resistance against migraine better and should not be used as an alternative to medication. It’s recommended to continue your medication until your doctor advises otherwise.

Practicing these simple yoga postures will lessen the impact of a migraine attack and may eventually stop them permanently. So, roll out the yoga mat, repose for some time every day, and shut migraine out of your life for good.

Practicing Yoga helps develop the body and mind, yet is not a substitute for medicine. It is essential to learn and practice yoga under the supervision of a trained Yoga teacher. In case of any medical condition, practice yoga only after consulting your doctor and a Sri Sri Yoga teacher.

Find a Sri Sri Yoga program at an Art of Living center near you.

Write to us at [email protected] to receive more information on our programs or to share feedback.

When it comes to preventing or curing a headache, there is no substitute for a thorough, daily yoga program. The following sequence offers poses that are helpful for opening the chest and stretching and relaxing the upper back and neck. Include them in your regular practice if you are prone to headaches and see if they help bring some relief and new awareness. Breathe deeply and slowly during all the postures and remember to relax the forehead, eyes, jaw, and tongue. The first part of the program is prevention, practiced when you do not have a headache. The second part, beginning with Supta Baddha Konasana, may be helpful in relieving a headache when it first begins. You will have better results if you start stretching and releasing at the first sign of a headache, before the muscles go into spasm.

1. Tadasana (Mountain Pose): Discovering Alignment and Finding the Center

Standing upright with awareness is one basic way to discover your own unique posture. It is difficult to correct something until you have found out what is really there. Use the wall to identify your alignment, and then practice standing in the center of the room.

Stand with your back to the wall, with your feet together. If that is uncomfortable, separate the feet three or four inches. Plant the feet firmly, feeling the ground with the soles of the feet. Check the distribution of weight between the right foot and the left. Move front, back, and side-to-side on your feet to find the most balanced stance. Make sure that the arch of each foot is lifted, the toes spread apart. The placement of your feet becomes the foundation of your awareness of your whole body. Give yourself enough time to explore and discover how you are actually standing.

See also The Stress-Busting Yoga Sequence to Conquer Tension

When you are ready to move on, firm and straighten the legs. Bring the tailbone and pubic bone towards each other, but do not suck in the abdominals: Lift them. There should be space between the wall and your lower back; do not flatten the lumbar curve. With your “mind’s eye,” go into the area below the navel, inside the belly, in front of the sacrum. Locate this “center” point. Extend the side torso up, lift the sternum without sticking out the ribs, and drop the shoulders. Take the tips of the shoulder blades and move them into the torso, opening the chest. Let the back of the head reach up. If the chin is raised, let it drop slightly, without tightening your throat; focus your eyes on the horizon. Make sure that the shoulders and back of the head both touch the wall. Relax any tension in the face and neck. Remember that your “center” resides in the area below the navel and in the belly, not in the neck and head. This exercise may feel very constricted if your head is normally forward of your shoulders. Use the wall to inform you, so that you know the relationship of your head to your shoulders, but try not to create more stress as you adjust your alignment.

On an exhalation, raise the arms up to the ceiling, bringing the elbows back by the ears. Let the arms grow from the shoulder blades. Stretch the little finger side of the hand and connect that stretch all the way down to the little toe and into the ground. Remember to keep the feet grounded, the legs strong, and the center of your pose in the area below the navel. Observe whether the movement of the arms has caused tension in the neck area. As you stretch up with the hands, bring the tips of the shoulder blades more deeply into the torso. Hold for a few breaths and then release on an exhalation.

2. Parsvottanasana Arms: Opening the Chest

Move a little away from the wall and roll the shoulders back. Clasp your elbows with your hands behind your back. If you have more flexibility you may join your palms behind your back, with the fingers pointing upward. On the exhalation, roll the upper arms back toward the wall, opening the chest between the sternum and shoulder. As you open, keep the ribs relaxed; make sure they don’t jut forward. Remember to stay grounded in your feet and center the movement below the navel. Relax the eyes, jaw, and tongue. Release on the exhalation. Change the arm on top, if you are clasping your elbows, and repeat.

3. Garudasana Arms: Opening Between the Shoulder Blades

This pose is helpful for relieving pain between the shoulder blades. It reminds us to keep that area open in the process of stretching the upper back. Wrap your arms around your torso, right arm under the left arm, hugging yourself. Exhale and bring the hands up, the left elbow resting in the right elbow, with the hands rotated palms towards each other. Breathe and feel the stretch; after a few breaths, raise the elbows up higher, to the level of the shoulder. Remain grounded in the feet, centered in the area below the navel. Relax the eyes, jaw, and tongue. Feel the expansion of the inhalation between the shoulder blades and the release on the exhalation. Lower the arms on the exhalation and repeat with the left arm under the right.

See also Yoga Cure for Headaches

4. Gomukhasana Arms: Stretching the Shoulders

This pose opens and facilitates movement in the shoulders, which helps correct the rounded upper back and forward head position. Plant your feet firmly in a parallel position and extend the sides of the torso up, pressing down through the sitting bones. The shoulders drop down, and the head rests on the body’s midline. Lift the right arm into the air (with a belt in your hand if you have tight shoulders), stretching from the little finger side. Bend the right elbow and reach down between the shoulder blades. Bring your left arm behind your back and swing the left hand up to meet the right, clasping the hands or taking hold of a belt. Relax the ribs. Lift the right elbow into the air and drop the left elbow down. Make sure that the spine stays extended and is not leaning left or right to compensate for tightness in the shoulders. Release on an exhalation and reverse the arm positions.

5. Simple Seated Twist: Relieving Strain in the Back, Rotating and Stretching the Neck

Sit on the chair, feet firmly on the ground, sitting bones pressing down, sides of the torso extended. On the exhalation, reach around and take your right arm to the back of the chair and your left hand to your right knee. Extend the back of your head up and make sure the head is on the midline. Turn on the exhalation, breathing low into the belly, then into the chest. Lastly, turn the head and eyes. Remember to keep the shoulders down, the chest open, and the shoulder blade tips in. Center the movement below the navel and in the belly; relax the eyes, jaw, and tongue.

6. Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose): Actively Opening the Chest

Lie down on your back with your knees bent and feet hip-width apart. Roll the shoulders under and reach the hands towards the feet, keeping the little finger side of the hands on the floor. On the exhalation, raise the buttocks, lifting the sternum towards the chin. Elongate the back of the neck without pushing it into the floor; you want the neck to stretch, not flatten. Interlocking the fingers on the ground under the back helps to roll the shoulder blades under and is an interesting variation. Relax the facial muscles and jaw, breathe deeply, and come down on an exhalation. This pose is not appropriate during the second half of pregnancy, or if you have been diagnosed with spondylolysis or spondylolisthesis.

See also QUIZ: How Does Your Stress Manifest?

7. Supta Baddha Konasana: Passively Opening the Chest, Releasing Tension From the Neck

This pose can be done when you first feel signs of a headache. It opens the chest, and with the head resting, encourages the neck to relax. It is best done with the eyes closed and covered with an eye bag, a wrap, or a blanket. Lie back on a bolster or a narrow stack of three blankets, with your head supported on an additional blanket. The lower edge of the blankets should come directly into contact with the buttocks to support the lower back. The chin should drop down so that there is an elongation of the neck muscles, particularly the ones at the base of the skull.

Bring the soles of the feet together and spread the knees apart, supported by an additional blanket roll, or if this is uncomfortable, straighten the legs and support the knees with a blanket roll. Experiment with the height of the support to find the most comfortable position for your body. Breathe deeply and slowly, relaxing the forehead, eyes, jaw, and tongue. To come out of the pose, put the soles of the feet on the ground with the knees bent and roll to the side. Do not do this pose if you have been diagnosed with spondylolysis or spondylolisthesis.

8. Supported Child’s Pose: Resting the Upper Back and Releasing the Neck

Sit on a folded blanket with your knees bent and your feet under your buttocks. Separate your knees more than hip-width apart and bring your feet together. Bring your torso forward, resting it on a stair-stepped arrangement of blankets or a bolster, adjusted to a comfortable height. Pull the support into your belly. Drop your chin towards your chest as you rest your head. You may want an additional blanket to support your forehead, but continue to lengthen the neck. Dropping the chin to the chest provides a gentle stretch to the back of the neck, right below the skull. The arms should rest on the floor, palms down, elbows bent, hands near the head.

9. Supported Forward Bend: Releasing and Relaxing the Neck

Sit on the floor in front of a chair with your legs crossed, with enough blankets on the seat so your forehead can rest on the blankets without strain, or if this is difficult, sit with the legs straight under the chair. Rest your head on the chair seat or blankets with your arms under your forehead. If your legs are straight, pull the chair over your legs towards your belly. Drop the chin towards the chest to gently stretch the neck muscles. Let the weight of the head fall down onto the chair seat. Breathe deeply and slowly.

See also Pop These Poses for a Headache

10. Supported Ardha Uttanasana (Half Forward Bend): Stretching the Lower Back, Relaxing the Upper Back and Neck

Stand in front of a table stacked with blankets high enough so that when you bend over and rest your torso on them, you are forming a right angle. Extend the spine and rest the arms straight forward or crossed, whichever is more comfortable. Drop the chin towards the chest and let the neck gently stretch. Breathe deeply and slowly.

At this point, if the headache has improved, do the next two poses. If the pain has continued, go to Viparita Karani, or rest flat on the ground in Savasana with the eyes covered and a blanket under the head.

11. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Dog): Deeply Stretching the Back, Shoulders, and Legs

This position should be done with the head resting on a support and the chin moving towards the chest to elongate the neck. If possible, use the resistance of a belt secured to door handles, or a partner and a belt at the top of the thighs to bring the spine into more release. Begin on hands and knees; as you exhale, turn the toes under and lift the sit bones, straightening the legs and arms. Press your hands into the ground as the base of the spine moves diagonally up. The weight of the head will create a stretch in the neck. Watch that the ribs do not sink down; lift them to create a space between the shoulder blades and to avoid jamming the spine. Come down on an exhalation.

12. Viparita Karani: Inverting the Blood Flow and Calming the Mind

Since this pose increases blood flow to the head, it is excellent in the beginning stage of a headache. But if you are having migraine symptoms, indicating that the blood vessels are dilated, and if the pain increases, skip this pose and rest in savasana. Do not do this pose if you have hiatal hernia, eye pressure, retinal problems, heart problems, or disc problems in the neck, or during menstruation or pregnancy.

Lying on the floor with a blanket or bolster under your lower back, place your legs up against the wall. Remember to drop the chin down, creating length in the neck. Cover your eyes with an eye bag or wrap. Some people find headache relief in this pose when they place a weight, such as a sand bag, on the head, with one end on the forehead and the other draped over the top of the head onto the floor. This additional pressure helps to drop the head further into the ground, releasing the strain in the neck muscles.

See also An Ayurvedic Guide to Treating and Preventing Headaches

13. Savasana (Corpse Pose): Relaxing Completely

Lie on your back on the floor with your eyes covered and a blanket under your neck and head. You may put an additional blanket under your knees. If you are pregnant, lie on the left side, extending the bottom leg and bending the top one, with a blanket under the top knee. Relax completely, breathe deeply, and let go.

5 Yoga Poses to Get Rid of Your Headache

Want to learn how to do yoga for headache? “Stretch, bend, breathe, relax”, and scroll down for more.
“Headaches are characterised by a feeling of tenseness in the neck, shoulder and scalp whereas migraines are basically pulsating headaches, often on one side of the head. Symptoms actually vary from person to person, and even from one migraine attack to the next,” explains Dr. Supriya Bali, Internal Medicine, Max Hospitals. A pounding head can keep you from falling asleep at night or worse, skip an important meeting. Whether from dehydration, stress, tension, a hangover, or anything else; when you feel a headache coming on, all you want to do is zap the pain away – and fast.
But don’t pop that pill just yet. We’ve got good news for you. Yoga could in fact help get rid of that headache for good. Dr. Manoj K. Ahuja, Sukhda Hospital says, “Yoga helps to release tension and stress in the body, and the majority of headaches are usually tension-related”. Here are 5 asanas that are designed to gently stretch and open the areas in your body (such as you neck, shoulders or back), while circulating blood to your head. It’s time to take a detour from your medicine cabinet, and head straight to your yoga mat instead. Tip: Make a conscious effort to take deep breaths that start in your diaphragm and fill up your lungs. This will help get plenty of fresh oxygen circulating through your blood and in turn, relax your mind and body.
5 Yoga Poses to Get Rid of Your Headache
1. Seated Neck Release
Since the neck is often the culprit of tension headaches, it’s important to stretch it out with a basic yoga exercise. All you need to do is sit in a comfortable position, ensuring that your spine is straight and your neck lengthened. Then place your left hand on the right side of your head and gently tilt your head to the left. Hold for a few breaths and then slowly switch sides. Repeat on both sides a few times to reduce the intensity of the headache. So when a headache looms, you know what to do.
2. Viparita Karani
Putting your ‘Legs Up The Wall’, gently stretches the muscles in your neck and relaxes you at the same time. It can in fact, ease your throbbing headache in just a few minutes. Sit on one end of a mat with your right hip touching a wall. Lean back, turn to lie flat on the mat, and extend your legs up the wall. Make sure your butt is nearly touching the wall and your legs are placed together. Put your hands on your belly or rest them on the mat, then close your eyes, relax your jaw and drop your chin slightly. For 3 to 10 minutes, breathe deeply and slowly in this position.
3. Adho Mukho Svanasana
Also known as the Downward Facing Dog Pose, this is one of yoga’s most widely recognised asanas. Take deep breaths while practicing this pose, and just let your head hang between your shoulders. This beginner-friendly asana helps get rid of fatigue, back pain and stiffness from sitting all day by stretching the hamstrings, chest and lengthens the spine. It helps provide additional blood flow to the head which can often be just the thing to relieve your headache, and leaves you feeling energized.
4. Happy Baby Pose
In case you think your headache might be stemmed from the pain in your back that’s radiating up your spine, or you just need to relax for a few minutes, try the Happy Baby Pose. This restorative post will indeed instill a sense of calmness. Lie on your back with your knees bent, holding on to your thighs or the outside edges of your feet. You can slowly rock from side to side to increase the stretch in your hips and lower back, and to gently lull your mind into a state of relaxation.
5. Uttanasana
CommentsStanding forward-fold is perhaps, one of the most basic ways to get rid of the pain. Nidhi Gureja, Art of Living, says, “Uttanasana invigorates the nervous system by increasing blood supply and also calms the mind”. So what do you need to do? With feet hip-width apart, bend forward, relaxing your head toward the floor. Grab opposite elbows, soften knees, and and just relax your head and neck completely.

6 Yoga Poses to Soothe Headaches

Headaches are one of those ailments that can come out of nowhere and hit you hard. They are impossible to ignore and sometimes even harder to ease. The beautiful thing about yoga is the versatile ways it aids in health and healing, especially in a world that can have many triggers for headaches. One thing is for certain: yoga can only help the pain. So keep those lights dim, maybe even stay in bed, take a few deep breaths and try some of these poses:

  1. Marjaryasana/Bitilasana (Cat/Cow)

This pose is a great start to any yoga sequence due to the fluidity that it creates in the spine. The wavelike motions help relinquish any tension that may be held in the neck or shoulders.

In this pose be mindful of your alignment and stack your shoulders over your elbows and wrists. On your exhale, hug your belly toward your spine. Then, on your inhale, soften your belly toward the floor, relax your shoulders down and lengthen through your crown.

  1. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog)

This minor inversion sets you up for direct relief. It allows your head to hang and your shoulders to relax. In this pose, stress melts away by having all four of your limbs on the mat, allowing you a chance to fully ground yourself. You can close your eyes, take deep breaths and release what is no longer serving you here.

Make sure you spread your fingers and toes in this pose. Tuck your chin toward your chest to lengthen the back of your neck, which relaxes the muscles of the neck or shoulders. Raise your hips toward the sky and send your breath down through your hands.

  1. Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide Angle Standing Forward Bend)

Credit: Chara Caruthers

Like Down dog this position gives your neck and shoulders tension-free rest. This position also gives your body some options. You can keep your palms on the mat in a traditional position or you could clasp you fingers behind your back creating a deeper stretch for the shoulders. Another choice, is to hold onto an opposite shin, one at a time, deepening the forward fold or you can bring your back against a wall. Play with what feels best in your body, and what relieves your head pain.

In this pose, root deeply through your feet. On your inhale, lift through your chest while engaging your thigh muscles. On your exhale, keep the length in your torso as you lean down toward the floor. Then plant your palms on the floor (or take any of the previously mentioned arm variations) and stay here for as long as feels comfortable. Make sure to roll your shoulders away from your ears, releasing pressure.

  1. Setu Bandhasana (Bridge Pose)

This pose helps many ailments by increasing blood flow. It allows a relaxing stretch to the neck and spine and opens up the heart, all while alleviating stress and restoring a sense of calm.

To practice this pose lay on your back, bend your knees and bring your feet to the mat about hip-distance apart. On your inhale, press equally into your shoulders and feet to raise your hips to the sky. This should lift your sternum toward your chin. You can stay here or to take it further by interlocking your fingers on the ground under your body, and rolling your shoulders under and toward each other. This elicits a deeper stretch. From here bring your focus to elongating the body, relaxing the mind and breathing deeply.

  1. Janu Sirsasana (Head-to-Knee Pose)

This is a forward fold variation appropriate for yogis of all levels. This position increases circulation and releases lingering stiffness. The stretch forward increases structural alignment and lets go of any strain.

To start, sit with one leg straight and the other bent with the heel of your bent leg drawing into the opposite leg’s inner thigh. On your inhale, press through your sitting bones and lengthen your spine toward the ceiling. On your exhale, bend forward leading your chest over and toward the straight leg. Hold for a few deep breaths before switching sides.

  1. Viparita Karani (Legs up the Wall)

Legs up the Wall is a great restorative pose. The focus here is on restoration! Rest and relaxation is important to help alleviate any pesky headaches. This position also encourages a sense of peace and calm.

In this pose, get your bottom as close to a wall as you can. If this is uncomfortable use a pillow or blanket to lift your bottom up. You can even use a strap or scarf to tie your legs together as they reach up the wall toward the ceiling. Close your eyes, bring your attention to your breath and surrender.

All of these poses are suitable for yogis of all levels. They are relatively simple to get into, and stay in, as you feel your headache melt away. No matter the reason for your head pain: tension, stress or even sickness, yoga is a catchall healer. So whenever you feel the pains start, quickly fold into one of these positions and be pleasantly surprised as your pain subsides!

What Can Yoga Do for Migraine Relief?

Specific yoga poses can target tension and stress, which may be contributing to your migraines. Certain poses can help boost circulation and improve blood flow to your brain. This may lessen any pain or throbbing sensations that you’re having.

Here are four poses that may help relieve your symptoms and balance your physical, mental, and emotional states.

Child’s pose

The child’s pose can calm the nervous system and reduce pain.

  1. Kneel on the floor. You should keep your toes together and spread your knees as wide as you can.
  2. Lower your buttocks onto your heels.
  3. Sit up straight and allow your body to adjust to this position.
  4. After you exhale, lean forward so that your head and chest rests between or on top of your thighs. Allow your forehead to rest on the floor.
  5. Your arms should remain extended, palms facing down.
  6. Hold for one minute or more, allowing your neck and shoulders to release any tension.

To come out of this pose, use your hands to push yourself upward and sit back on your heels.

Bridge pose

This pose opens the chest, heart, and shoulders, and can reduce any anxiety you may be having.

  1. Lie on your back on the floor. Your knees should be bent, and your feet should be on the floor.
  2. Extend your arms. Your palms should be flat on the floor.
  3. Lift your pelvic region upward. Your torso should follow. Your shoulders and head should remain on the floor.
  4. Make sure your thighs and feet remain parallel. Your weight should be distributed evenly.
  5. Hold this position for up to one minute.

To release this pose, you should slowly drop your torso and pelvic region down onto the floor. Allow your knees to sink downward until you’re laying flat on the floor. From there, you should slowly rise into an upright position.

Downward facing dog

The downward face dog can increase circulation to the brain.

  1. Start on your hands and knees. Align your wrists under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.
  2. Stretch out your elbows and relax your upper back.
  3. Spread out your fingers and press down. Your weight should be distributed evenly between your hands.
  4. Gently lift your knees off the floor.
  5. You should straighten your legs, but be careful not to lock your knees.
  6. Lift your pelvis and lengthen your spine.
  7. Hold this for up to two minutes.

To come out of this pose, gently bend your knees and return to being on your hands and knees on the floor.

This pose can restore your body to a deep state of rest.

  1. Lie on the floor with your back to the ground.
  2. Let your legs spread slightly apart, and move your arms to your side. Your palms should face up to the ceiling
  3. Hold this position for between 5 and 30 minutes.

Some find it helpful to listen to relaxing music during this pose. During a migraine you may be sensitive to noise, so you will need to decide if the music helps you relax.

To exit this pose, you should slowly introduce awareness back into your body. Wiggle your fingers and toes. Roll to one side and allow yourself to rest there for a moment. Slowly move yourself into an upright position.

Although you can try these poses during a migraine, you may have better results if you add yoga to your daily routine.

Yoga Poses for Headache Relief

Enduring the pain of a headache can easily ruin your entire day. If you are trying to lead a holistic lifestyle or simply looking for ways to take less over-the-counter (or even prescribed, as the case may be) medicine, yoga (along with drinking plenty of water) is a great alternative for healing a variety of ailments. Any pose that stretches out the neck, shoulders, and upper back will aid in reducing tension, and, because yoga increases oxygen levels and blood flow, it is the perfect option for medicine-free healing. Whether your headaches are caused by stress, unhealthy habits, poor posture, anxiety, sitting in front of a computer too long, or even a hangover, try these stretches before you try popping pills!

1. Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (A.K.A. Bridge Pose)

This pose stretches the chest, neck, and spine, along with stimulating abdominal organs. It is known to reduce anxiety, fatigue, backache, headaches, and insomnia (all of which can cause headaches). If you happen to have any type of neck injury, you may want to skip this pose unless practising under the supervision of a trained teacher.
To get in bridge pose, lie on your back on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat, arms down by your sides. As you exhale, press your feet into the floor and push your tailbone up, keeping your things parallel with one another. You may clasp your hands underneath your back and extend through the arms so that you are staying on the tops of your shoulders.

Be sure to keep your chin lifted through the duration of the pose, which you may hold anywhere from 30
seconds to one minute. When you are finished, slowly roll your spine back down to the floor while exhaling.

2. Marjaryasana (A.K.A. Cat Pose) and Bitilasana (A.K.A. Cow Pose or Dog Tilt Pose)

The benefits of cat pose include stretching the middle and upper back, as well as
shoulders. It is often used in conjunction with “cow pose,” which stretches the neck and front torso. Using these poses together provides a message for the spine and organs. Again, if you have a neck injury, you may want to skip this pose unless you are practising with a trained instructor.
To begin, get on your knees and hands (in a tabletop position), with your thighs and arms both perpendicular to your upper body (reaching straight towards the ground).

Your knees should be directly below your hips, and your wrists should be directly under your shoulders. As you inhale, slowly lift your tailbone and the front of your chest towards the ceiling, sinking your belly toward the floor for cow pose. You should be looking straight ahead. As you exhale, slowly go into cat pose by tucking your chin under and pushing your hands into the ground, lifting your
upper back toward the ceiling and tucking your tailbone under. Repeat these poses several times, alternating between the two over the course of each inhale and exhale.

3. Adho Mukha Svanasana (A.K.A. Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Downward Facing Dog is a great pose for building upper body strength, and it stimulates the brain and nervous system, improves memory, relieves stress, energizes the body, improves digestion, and more, which is probably part of the reason it is one of the most popular yoga poses “on the market!” The pose also deeply stretches the back, shoulders, hamstrings, calves, and hands, and it opens the chest. Those with carpal tunnel or other hand/wrist injuries may have difficulty with this pose, and if your headache is of the pounding variety, you may want to support your head on a bolster or block.

Starting on your hands and knees, spread your fingers and turn your toes under. As you exhale, slowly lift your knees off the floor, lengthening your tailbone up towards the sky.

Stretch your heels toward the floor, lengthening through your legs to stretch the calves and hamstrings. Be sure to keep the shoulders relaxed while pressing the hands into the floor, keeping pressure off the neck and shoulders. Keep the neck engaged and between the upper arms, as not to let it hang freely. Hold the pose for up to three minutes, breathing deeply and staying relaxed through the shoulders.

4. Balasana (A.K.A. Child’s Pose)

This is a calming pose and is often used after challenging poses in yoga classes to relax the body and rest. It gently stretches the lower back, hips, and thighs, massages the organs, and relieves stress. Those with knee injuries should be careful when practising this pose and only perform it while under the supervision of a trained professional.

While kneeling on the floor, touch your big toes together and spread your knees approximately hip-width apart. Slowly lay your chest down to the ground between your thighs, lengthening through the back and tailbone, lifting the base of your head away from your neck.

Lay your hands on the floor either along your sides or stretching out, as indicated in the picture.

You may stay in this pose as long as it is comfortable. Be sure to focus on taking long, deep breaths and ensure that you are staying relaxed.

5. Viparita Karani (A.K.A. Legs Up the Wall Pose)

Because most people are on their feet or sitting in an upright position, this pose is helpful in bringing blood flow back down into the belly and digestive organs. It helps to relax the mind and reduce fatigue, both of which may help your headache start to subside within minutes. Many yogis also claim that this is a “cure-all” pose that may help eliminate any ailment you are facing, from depression to varicose veins to high or low blood pressure.

Inversion poses such as this should be avoided if you have glaucoma or any other serious eye problem. If your feet begin to “fall asleep,” feel free to slide them down the wall (towards your pelvis) with your knees facing outward until you regain feeling.

For this pose, simply lie on your back with your tailbone against the wall (or as close as possible – it doesn’t have to be touching). Stretch your legs up the wall, and keep your arms at your sides. Keep your neck and back relaxed, and focus on taking long, deep breaths. Keep your legs firmly in place for as long as you’d like (typically not over 15 to 20 minutes). As simple as it looks, this pose may cause strain on your hamstrings if they tend to be tight. If this is the case, feel free to slightly bend your knees or use the edge of your bed or a chair so that you may bend your knees.

6. Janu Sirsasana (A.K.A. Head-to-Knee Forward Bend Pose)

Head-to-knee poses are calming and are known to relieve anxiety and fatigue, both of which often cause headaches. It stretches the shoulders, hamstrings, spine, and ground, and strengthens the muscles in the back. There are many modifications to this pose so that all levels may participate. You may choose to use a strap to help reach the foot or slightly bend your knee.

Be sure not to over-stretch any of your muscles, or you may have a problem much bigger than a headache!

Begin by sitting on the floor with both legs straight in front of you. Bend your right knee, resting your right foot on the inside of your left thigh or knee, whichever is more comfortable (the outside of your right leg should be resting on the floor – support it with a folded blanket if it doesn’t quite reach). Square your body to your left leg, pointing your belly button toward that knee (it should still be straight out in front of you). Slowly fold forward, lengthening your spine.

You may use a strap wrapped around your foot or reach around your foot with your hands if possible. Slowly roll back up after up to three minutes and repeat this stretch on the other side for the same amount of time.

7. Pavana Muktasana (A.K.A. Wind Relieving Pose or Knees-to-Chest Pose)

This pose helps to loosen muscles in the back, which encourages a rush of blood throughout the body. It also improves digestion and elimination, while lengthening the spine and stretching the back, reducing tension in the lower back. This pose is considered pretty safe for all skill levels, but be sure to check with your doctor if you have recently had any type of abdominal surgery or a hernia.

While lying flat on your back, inhale and bring both knees into your chest. Slowly wrap your arms around your knees, and hold on to your opposite elbows, forearms, wrists, or fingers, whichever you can reach most comfortably. Tuck your chin, slightly lengthening your neck onto the floor. Try to completely relax your back onto the floor so that it is flat. You may hold this pose as long as you’d like, ensuring that you are focusing on taking deep breaths and relaxing your entire body onto the ground.

8. Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (A.K.A. Upward-Facing Dog Pose)

Improving posture, stretching the shoulders, and relieving fatigue are just some of the headache-relieving benefits of this pose. Poor posture (especially for those who sit in an office chair all day) is a very common source of headaches, and this pose can counteract some of the effects caused by sitting in the same position day after day. People with back injuries or carpal tunnel may have difficulty with this pose, as it tends to put pressure on the lower spine and wrists.

While lying on the floor (face down) with your legs extended and the tops of your feet down, bend your elbows, placing your palms on the floor by your waist. As you inhale, slowly press your palms into the ground and raise your chest and upper legs off the floor by straightening your arms. Stay relaxed through the lower back and buttocks, and look straight ahead or tip your head back slightly, whichever is most comfortable and provides less strain for you. You may hold this pose for up to 30 seconds, and you may choose to sit back into child’s pose afterwards to relax the lower back.

9. Uttanasana (A.K.A. Standing Forward Fold)

This pose is known to lengthen the spine and hamstrings, strengthen the calves, and calm the brain, relieving stress and anxiety. It also stimulates most of the bodily systems, including the digestive and nervous systems. Having a tight back and hamstrings, both of which this pose is aimed at helping, are usually the result of long working hours, hours of commuting throughout the week, and sleeping in uncomfortable positions. Be sure to keep your hamstrings open and relaxed to reduce strain on the back while performing this pose, which you have likely done whether or not you’ve ever stepped foot in a yoga class. Those with back, leg, hip, or shoulder injuries should check with your physician before doing this pose.

Standing with your feet parallel and slightly less than hip-width apart, exhale while folding your body forward from your hip joints. Slightly bend the knees so that you can place your palms flat on the floor and your head towards your knees. Work towards straightening your legs by lifting the hips up slowly. It is common practice to grab your opposite elbow and let the head and arms “dangle” from the neck and shoulders. Some yogis also prefer to sway back and forth slightly and slowly. Hold this for four to eight breaths, and then slowly bend the knees and roll up to a standing position.

10. Savasana (Corpse Pose)

If you have had the pleasure of participating in a yoga class, you may be aware that most classes end with several minutes of relaxation. This pose is very popular for “unwinding” at the end of a yoga lesson, as it rejuvenates the body and reduces stress and tension. Some yogis may choose to begin their workout with this pose, as it calms the body and focuses the mind, both of which are important while practising yoga.

Although the pose looks pretty self-explanatory, it is important that you realize there is more to the pose than simply laying on the ground. The purpose is to completely relax your body and focus on your breathing. While lying on your back, allow all of your muscles to completely loosen, as if your body is falling asleep. Focus on breathing in and out through your nose, allowing your lungs to fully expand with each inhales and pushing all of your oxygen out with each exhale. Over the course of the pose, scan your body several times to ensure you are still completely relaxed. Focus on the muscles you may not realize are tense, such as your jaw, forehead, fingers, toes, etc. . . . Stay in this pose as long as you’d like. Once you would like to get up, be sure to do so slowly. Many instructors direct participants to begin to come out of the pose by wiggling their fingers and toes. Next, slowly bend at the elbows and knees, bringing your feet flat to the ground. Stay here for a couple of breaths. Eventually, push up to a seated position and take a few deep breaths before standing.

Yoga poses for headache

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