February 25, 2016

Reducing Headache Pain with Yoga Poses



Practicing these poses can help soothe headaches and migraines.

Say goodbye to the snow and hello to spring. As excited as we are to see the seasons change, for some the change brings headaches and migraines. If you find that the change in weather triggers headaches for you, this yoga sequence could help.

Amanda Wentworth, a yoga instructor at Vanderbilt’s Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, designed a short sequence that can help to relax your mind and soothe your pain.

“This is a series that could definitely be useful preemptively as a daily morning ritual, or better yet as a break during a stressful day,” Wentworth explained. “It could even be practiced during the very early onset of a headache if the practitioner finds it helpful, but it would not be something to do during a full-blown migraine or cluster headache attack.”

Wentworth will also be hosting a five-week series designed to relieve the stress, congestion and tension that can constrict space in the head and result in headaches.

For those that can’t make the five-week series, Wentworth offers a sequence perfect for soothing your mind at home:

  1. Cat/Cow Pose: This pose brings gentle extension and flexion to the entire back of body (from tailbone to neck/skull), as well as bringing attention to the feeling of breath moving fluidly along all areas of the spine.
  1. Stomach Revolving Pose: A supine twisting posture that moves the head/neck and lower spine/hips/legs in opposition to one another, while being synchronized with gentle breath.
  1. Incremental Snow Angel Pose: This posture has the arms moving only during inhales, and relaxing and releasing to the earth where they are on the exhales. It can bring gentle energy and space to the upper regions of the body, but make sure to only raise the arms as far overhead as both whole arms can comfortably relax on the ground completely in order to maintain this feeling of ease in the chest, neck and head areas.
  1. Supine Breathing: This breathing sequence has the exhales slowly extending to a longer count over time. The exhale is the passive, relaxing and releasing component of the breath. Therefore, by focusing on and spending more time with the exhales, one creates more space and release in the body. This can help one experience opposite sensations to the tightening and constriction typical with headaches.
  1. Corpse Pose: As one calls to mind moonlight in calm, clear water, this may positively affect the mind toward clarity and ease.
  1. Palm the Eyes: The warmth and gentle touch of the palms resting over the eye sockets helps to soothe the entire head and mind.

Interested in joining Wentworth’s series?

What: Gentle Yoga for Soothing Headaches

When: Thursdays 4 to 5 p.m. from March 3 to March 31

Where: Osher Center for Integrative Medicine

Who: All levels class for individuals who experience headaches including migraines, tension and sinus headaches

For more information or to register visit the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine’s website.