Headaches pain can be debilitating and rarely do we turn to yoga for relief, but Shahada Karim recommends just that. The Certified Yoga Instructor, Movement Therapist and Owner of Habibi Sport gives us tips on relieving headaches with the help of six different types of yoga poses.
Child’s Pose (Shishuasana)
Seated on your knees, touch your big toes, open your knees and lay your torso forward and down between your knees. Let your head rest comfortably on a mat, block or bolster. This position takes pressure off the need to breathe into the chest by lifting breath into the back and sides of the ribs, relieving compression in the head and neck associated with headaches.
Wall Butterfly Pose (Supta Baddha Konsana Viparita Karani)
Lie on your back, extend legs to the ceiling and press the feet’s soles together, keeping the glutes loose; open your knees in the shape of a diamond. Breathe deeply, relaxing the abdominal muscles. Use support against a wall or with a bolster or pillow under the outer thighs to support the hips. Relaxing the inner thighs, abs, glutes and lower back can relieve tension in the entire body, including head, neck and shoulder aches.
Head to Knee Pose (Janu Sirsasana)
While seated, bring one foot to the inner thigh of the opposite leg. Twist your torso to face the extended leg and drape your head, neck and shoulders toward your thigh. Round your spine and lift your breath into the back and sides of your ribs. Stretching the neck and upper back muscles by breathing into those areas can help relieve neck and shoulder tension sometimes associated with headaches.
Happy Baby Pose (Ananda Balasana)
Lie on your back and bring your legs up the wall with your feet facing the ceiling. Bend your knees so that they frame your torso, and either grab the insides or outsides of your feet (or behind your knees). Press your shoulders away from your ears and your shoulder blades toward the mat. Flatten your back and press your hips toward the mat. Either stay still or rock right and left to massage the center of your back. This pose encourages deep relaxation and helps relieve back and shoulder tension sometimes associated with headaches.
Uttanasana (Forward Fold)
Plant your feet firmly on your mat, either hips-with distance or alittle wider. Hinge forward at your hips, keeping your knees soft, until the top of your head faces the mat. If there is strain on your lower back, bend your knees to relieve tension in that area. Forward folds encourage relaxation and can help relieve low back tension, shoulder tension and neck tension associated with headaches.
Setu bandha sarvangasana (Bridge Pose)
Lie on your back, bend your knees and plant your feet firmly hip-width distance apart. Walk your feet close to your hips, and lift your hips to push your tailbone up and toward the space between your knees. Walk your shoulders under your body and (if accessible) clasp hands together underneath your torso. Stretch the back of your neck by pulling the top of your head away and lightly tucking your chin in the direction of your chest. Bridge Pose can stretch the spine from the neck to the low back, and help relieve tension associated with headaches.
Main Image from Wake Up to Yoga by Lyn Marshall, 1975