Dealing with a headache is not easy. It can mess around with your everyday routine, and to make things worse, that debilitating pain doesn't easily subside even when you're taking rest. Migraine is a different ballgame altogether. It has no cause and no cure, however, genetic predisposition do come into play. The excruciating pain can even compromise one's efficiency and productivity.
For the longest time in my life, I had suffered from migraine and my only BFFs in the time of distress were migraine pills or cups of chai and coffee. I had become devoted to the magical powers of caffeine against my own liking and was on a relentless lookout for something natural that would heal me inside out. I knew that the dependence on painkillers or caffeine was futile in the long run. Then yoga came to my rescue, and I'm glad it did.
In yogic practice, all forward bending postures are based on exhalation. Headaches are usually cured by deriving ways to supply extra oxygen to the brain. It therefore calls for practices that involve inhalation - hence pranayama becomes an important tool in tackling migraine.
"In case of any headache, your brain nerves get less prana (oxygen or current), therefore it pains. Pranayam is excellent for curing migraine," explained Yogi Anoop from the Chaitanya Foundation, Mediyoga.
When you suffer from migraine, your ability to stay alert goes for a toss. Being alert is essential for various functions of the body, including your bowel and intestinal activity. Experts have chalked out a correlation between frequent headaches and irritable bowel. This explains why yoga calls for all backward bending posture to heal migraine and headaches. When you go into backward bending postures, your diaphragm expands, lungs open up and you inhale more; this results in greater oxygen to your brain and relieves you from the pain. Also, there is no pressure on your abdominal region.
Postures for Instant Relief
1. Bhujangasana or the Cobra Pose
Apart from relieving your headache, the asana is extremely beneficial for your spinal health. It is one of the primary positions in Surya Namaskar. Here's how to get into it.
2. Ustrasana or the Camel Pose
Another one in the backward bending series, this asana gives a nice stretch to your stomach and thighs while strengthening your back and relieving you from headache. You can practice right after the cobra pose and follow it with the shoulder stand (sarvangasana).
3. Setu Bandhasana or the Bridge Pose
"Setu Bandhaasana is an excellent pose for melting stomach fat as it stretches the stomach muscles," said Anju Kalhan of Vivafit fitness center. Practice it regularly to tackle migraine as well.
4. The Shoulder Stand or Sarvangasana
This posture reverses the blood flow. As you get into it, your neck gets locked and the blood supply is reduced toward your head. The shoulder stand usually helps alleviate headache, however, acute cases of migraine should not attempt this posture. Please note, all inverted poses (shoulder stands, headstands, plough pose, handstand) should be avoided in case of acute headache.
"Attempt breathing techniques with a piece of jaggery placed in your mouth. Jaggery is a source of sugar and iron and when teamed with oxygen (while breathing) it increases prana, energy in your brain. This will relieve you drastically," noted Yogi Anoop.
You can also try anulom vilom in case the pain persists in the entire head. Single nostril breathing helps in tackling one-sided migraine - practice left-to-left breathing for right-sided pain and vice versa.
All asanas should be practiced under strict supervision of an expert. Consult your doctor before any of the above mentioned postures.