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yoga to relieve your headache
Photo by Matteo Vistocco on Unsplash

Dealing with too much tension? Try yoga to relieve your headache.

Tension headaches can be caused by tension in the jaw, face, neck, shoulders, and back.

Headaches caused by tight and restricted neck muscles can be helped by a seated neck release, which will stretch the scalene muscles on the neck. Sometimes headaches are caused by back pain that’s radiating up the spine, and yoga to relieve your headache may be the answer.

Try these simple poses to release the tension that may be giving you a headache.

Supported Child's Pose

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Supported child’s pose will help you find some relaxation through your neck, shoulders, and back to ease tension that may be causing your headache. Begin on all fours. Sit the glutes down toward your heels and rest the forehead on a yoga block or bolster. Lightly push your forehead into the block/bolster while you walk your fingertips forwards, towards the top of the mat. Hold for 5-10 breaths.

Supta Baddha Konsana

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Laying in a restorative version of supine butterfly will calm the nervous system, which may help with the pain and anxiety associated with a headache. Begin in a seat on the floor. Place a pillow under each knee and bring the soles of the feet together. Lay back onto the yoga mat, if your neck is tight, you may place the head on a pillow as well. You can cover the eyes with a scented eye pillow and relax for 5-10 minutes in this position.

Viparita Karani

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Legs up the wall: This restorative yoga pose will instill a sense of calmness. All you need is a wall. Sit as close as you can to the wall. If this is uncomfortable, prop your bum and lower back on a folded blanket. Keep the legs together or spread them wide in a straddle. Just close your eyes and breathe, staying as long as you'd like.

Seated neck release

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For headaches caused by tight and restricted neck muscles, try a seated neck release which will stretch the scalene muscles on the neck. Beginning in a comfortable seat, drop your right ear towards your right shoulder. If you would like a deeper stretch, you can float your left hand off your lap just to the left of your left thigh. For an even deeper stretch, place your right hand lightly on the right side of your head, at the temple and let the weight of the arm stretch the neck muscles further. Hold for 3-5 breaths and then slowly switch sides. Repeat on both sides a few times.

Happy baby pose

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Sometimes headaches are caused by back pain that’s radiating up the spine. Happy baby pose will help relax the muscles of the glutes, pelvic floor, and low back. Begin by laying on your back and hug the knees towards the chest, if you are flexible enough, place the hands on the outside of the calves, ankles, or feet. Gently roll the tailbone down towards the mat and rock side to side to massage the low back and sacrum.

Uttanasana

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Forward folds will stretch the fascia and muscles along the spine and back of the neck, which may be adding tension to your headache. This pose will also calm the nervous system. Begin in a standing position, with feet hip-width distance apart, slowly roll the spine down vertebra by vertebra, pausing at “sticky” spots for a breath or two to help the muscles relax and stretch. When you are at the bottom of your forward fold, allow the head to hang heavy like a bowling ball. You can grab opposite elbows, and hang like a ragdoll, keeping the head and neck relaxed. You can gently shake the head ‘yes’ and ‘no’ to further decrease tension. Hold for 5-10 deep breaths and slowly roll back up, stacking the vertebra one by one.

Setu bandha sarvangasana

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*This pose is contraindicated for certain neck injuries*

Please avoid if you have ongoing neck issues and practice only with the guidance of an experienced teacher

Bridge pose will stretch the shoulders, thoracic spine, and back of the neck, easing any tension that may be making its way up to your head and causing your headache. To begin, lie supine on the floor, with a folded blanket under your shoulders to protect your neck. Bend your knees and set your feet on the floor, close enough to the bum that you can graze the heels with your fingertips. As you exhale, press the feet into the mat while pushing the arms into the floor, bridging the pelvis up off the mat. The glutes will be active but not clenching together. If your shoulders allow it, clasp the fingers under the sacrum and extend through the arms towards the feet. Stay in the pose for 5-10 deep breaths.

If you are looking for more guidance on yoga to relieve your headache, give us a call to make an appointment today.

This article is for informational purposes only. Please consult with your doctor or a physical therapist for an individualized session and exercises.

What Our Patients Have to Say

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Testimonial by Carolina J.

I had tried Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy before (with another PT) and I had a really bad (painful) experience. A friend of mine and fellow patient, told me about Heather, Laureen and Femina PT (née Fusion Wellness & Physical Therapy) and I decided to try again. I am so happy I did! Femina PT have, literally, changed my life. I was able to do again things I couldn't do for over 10 years!! Their bedside manners are impeccable, their knowledge and understanding make me feel comfortable to recommend this place to anyone in pain. Specially if you have Endometriosis. 100% recommended!!

-- Carolina J., 12/28/16 via Yelp!

Testimonial by R.H.

No one could tell me why I was having pain during sex--sharp pain, not just uncomfortable, pain. I was referred to Heather Jeffcoat after researching several different options. I had seen a specialist who told me physical therapy would not help and my only option was surgery. I really didn't want to go that route, so when we got a referral, I decided to try it--it can't hurt, I thought. I am so glad I did. She diagnosed the problem right away, which was a relief in itself.

To know why I was having pain eased my mind immensely. And to hear that she could fix it without surgery was another relief. She said she could fix the problem in 6 weeks. I think it was actually 4 for me. She was very methodical, and treated me as an intelligent human being capable of participating in my own recovery. I would absolutely recommend her to anyone. She did not try to prolong my session numbers, she worked hard to accommodate my schedule (and the fact that I had to bring a baby to sessions), and she was completely honest the entire time. It is so hard to find someone with these characteristics, much less a professional who is so good at what she does. She has my highest respect.

-- R.H.

Testimonial by R.D., age 38

"I had a severe tear during childbirth that was not stitched together correctly and therefore healed poorly. Even after having a surgery a year later to remove the scar tissue, I was still having pain, and no one could explain why -- there was no overt 'reason' to explain the pain. I had tried other 'specialists' and even saw another physical therapist who had me do hip / leg stretches -- what a joke! I was about to give up and just 'live with it' until thankfully I kept searching online and found Heather.

Read more: Testimonial by R.D., age 38

Testimonial by R.D., age 38

"I had a severe tear during childbirth that was not stitched together correctly and therefore healed poorly. Even after having a surgery a year later to remove the scar tissue, I was still having pain, and no one could explain why -- there was no overt 'reason' to explain the pain. I had tried other 'specialists' and even saw another physical therapist who had me do hip / leg stretches -- what a joke! I was about to give up and just 'live with it' until thankfully I kept searching online and found Heather.

Read more: Testimonial by R.D., age 38

Testimonial by R.M., Age 40

I can’t speak highly enough of the theapists at Femina Physical Therapy and how much they have helped me grow, discover, and love my body. I had had painful sex for my entire life, and didn’t know that there was anything that could be done about it. It was at the point where my husband and I were not having sex for MONTHs, because it was just too frustrating, and I hated feeling like I was the ONLY woman out there who had this problem, especially at my age. I finally brought it up to my doctor because I was turning 40 and my husband and I were barely having enough sex to conceive. And she brought up pelvic floor, PT. I didn’t even know this was a “thing”.

Read more: Testimonial by R.M., Age 40

Testimonial by J.B.

My husband and I were having problems with painful intercourse. My therapist recommended that I go and get a pelvic floor evaluation from a physical therapist. Having never been treated by a physical therapist, I wondered how this really was going to help me. My husband who is a physician was very supportive and agreed that a PT evaluation would be a great idea. So i made the appointment and was blown away by what I learned. I had no idea that pelvic floor muscles could get tight and have trigger points just like any other muscle in the body. I'm a massage therapist and very familiar with tight muscles, and this new thought really amazed me. Heather's program to help relax and strengthen these muscles made such a difference. I can say that I am 100% pain free during intercourse now. Yippee! Going to the PT appointments and doing the at-home exercises was definitely a discipline, but it's 100% worth it! The rewards are amazing.

-- J.B.

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