Yoga Poses or Headache Relief

Yoga’s insights about the body are useful when searching for headache relief. There are many causes and types of headaches; however, a few yoga benefits tackle most headaches. Look for restorative yoga poses to stimulate your body’s relaxation response through the parasympathetic nervous system. In addition, certain poses will stretch the back and neck areas, which reduces pain. Here are three poses known for relieving headache pain:

1. Ardha Adho Mukha Svanasana (Half Downward-Facing Dog Pose)
This modified pose helps stretch the head area without having to put too much pressure on the head area. 

  • Place your hands on the wall.
  • Find an angle; the idea is to have a straight line from your wrists to your hips.
  • Press the hands against the wall and lengthen through the tailbone
  • Make sure to inhale and exhale smoothly and deeply.

2. Viparita Karani (Legs Up On the Wall Pose)
As soon as you feel a headache coming on, stop, and practice this restorative pose. This pose will often stop a headache before it has a chance to start.

  • Come close to your wall on your bed or yoga mat.
  • Place a bolster, couch pillow, or stacked blankets against the wall, touching the wall. Grab an extra blanket to put under your head once you lie down.
  • Have a seat on your bolster or chosen prop.
  • Use your hands to support you as you lie down. Place your bottom as close as possible to the wall.
  • Wing your legs all the way up.
  • Scoot yourself close to the wall if there is a gap.
  • You can place an eye pillow on your eyes for further relaxation. You might want to spray peppermint or lavender oil on a bandana or washcloth which helps relieve headaches. In addition, you can place a blanket between the wall and your heels for added comfort.

*avoid this pose if you are menstruating, pregnant or have high blood pressure.

3. Balasana – Supported (Child’s Pose)
Gentle and easy, forward bend yoga poses can help release knots of pain making the headache worse. Here are two restorative versions of child’s pose to try.

Version 1

  • Gather props: Bolster (or couch pillow) and 1 or 2 blankets
  • Stack one or two folded blankets on the bolster.
  • Place your thighs on either side of the bolster
  • Use the bolster to support your weight as you bend further into the pose
  • Rest your arms and hands on the floor or wrap your hands around the end of the bolster
  • Remain in the pose 3-5 minutes or as long as it feels comfortable.

Version 2

  • Find a padded chair or place a blanket over the chair seat.
  • Place the chair in front of you and sit cross-legged or on the heels.
  • Place your forehead on the seat and relax for a few minutes.