By Kimaya Singh
Virtually everyone has had a headache at one point or another during the course of their lives, and it’s an undeniable fact that they make basic activities, decision-making, and even normally enjoyable hobbies difficult or nearly impossible depending on the severity of the pain. Modern pain killers are usually quite effective at masking this discomfort, but extended use of these drugs leads to some unpleasant side effects, including headaches themselves. If you have found yourself going to the medicine cabinet for relief from headaches a little too often, it may be time to address the root of the problem, which is often muscle strain.
When asked, most individuals will say that muscle tension is not a problem for them, but the truth is that most people suffering from muscle tension don’t consciously realize it. They imagine being coiled up like a spring or having obvious clusters of pain-filled muscles, but in reality the problem is much more subtle; if it were that obvious no one would be suffering from it, would they? This pervasive problem actually stems from improper posture, which then leads to tension being put on muscles that just can’t take the pressure and load. A common warning sign of an impending headache is a tightness in the shoulders and neck. When these muscles become locked up, a headache is almost certain to follow. The body will slow down blood flow to contracting muscles until the tension is released but the muscles can only go for so long without blood and the essential nutrients it carries. If the muscles reach a point where they are in serious need of blood, chemical messengers are released that force the contracted blood vessels to dilate and move to the afflicted area. This hurts, and this is potentially the cause of most severe headaches, including the infamous migraine.
At any given point of the day check your posture; if you have a back that is rounding, shoulders that are slumping and a head that’s tilting forward, a headache is likely on the horizon. The answer is to retrain the body so that the default alignment is proper rather than out of balance. Most people who are used to slouching while sitting will find staying seated in proper posture difficult and even painful due to the fact that they have no strong core to hold them up. This is where yoga can be an instrumental tool; almost every asana in yoga serves to strengthen the core to some degree, and a stronger core makes it much less natural to slouch.
In addition to building a solid foundation through strengthening the core, yoga may also be used at the onset of a headache to relieve the symptoms. Asanas that work the shoulders and open the chest will be very effective in breaking up the tension surrounding the headache. Downward Dog, Mountain Pose, Half Forward Bend, Child’s Pose and even Corpse Pose can be very effective for releasing the affected muscles. Be sure to focus not only on the shoulders and neck but also the jaw, tongue and forehead, which are often just as tense as the larger regions.
Yoga for headache relief is successful by addressing the hidden muscle tension that the majority of people carry with them on a daily basis, you can become less reliant on painkillers and enjoy a naturally headache free life.
© Copyright 2011 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
Are you interested in how to become a yoga teacher? See our selection of inexpensive yoga instructor certification courses.