Migraine is an episodic disabling headache requiring long-term management. Migraine management through Yoga therapy would reduce the medication cost with positive health benefits. Yoga has shown to improve the quality of life, reduce the episode of headache and medication. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the efficacy of Yoga as an adjuvant therapy in migraine patients by assessing clinical outcome and autonomic functions tests. Migraines are more intense than common headaches. They’re typically characterized by a throbbing pain on one side of the head. They’re often accompanied by nausea, dizziness, and sensitivity to light and sound. Migraines can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days.
Yoga can provide more than just physical fitness. It can bring calm and peace to your mind and body, as well as help with ailments such as anxiety, depression, and pain. Yoga can help lessen the severity and frequency of migraine. Yoga is a mind and body therapy that began in ancient India. People worldwide now practice it. It involves poses, meditation, and breathing exercises. Studies have found it can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. Not only is yoga a holistic approach to fighting migraines as they’re happening, it’s also a proactive approach to reduce the pain.
Research and Evidence
Recent research agrees that yoga can improve migraine symptoms, usually alongside standard medical treatment.
A 2021 study of 61 participants concluded that yoga therapy combined with standard medical treatment could further improve peoples’ quality of life and reduce migraine headaches.
Previous 2020 research agreed with this conclusion. Researchers found that in 161 participants, yoga as an added therapy is superior to medical treatment alone and could offer a cost-effective and safe way to help treat migraine.
A small study published in 2018 found that yoga paired with Ayurveda, a holistic form of medicine originating in India, reduces migraine symptoms and pain intensity and improves quality of life.
Earlier 2014 research with 60 participants concluded that a yoga intervention significantly improved headache frequency and pain intensity. It also found that yoga therapy improved cardiac autonomic balance, referring to the interaction between the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems.
Which poses to try
Specific yoga poses can target tension and stress, which may be contributing to your migraines. Certain poses can help boost circulation and improve blood flow to your brain. This may lessen any pain or throbbing sensations that you’re having.
Here are four poses that may help relieve your symptoms and balance your physical, mental, and emotional states.
Rabbit pose (Shashank asana)
- Begin by sitting on the floor.
- Stretch the legs out in front, keeping the spine straight.
- Bend the right leg at the knee. Bring it gently backward until the right buttock is on the right foot.
- Do the same with the left leg.
- Adjust the position to be comfortable and rest the palms on the thighs.
- Breathing in, raise the hands straight up and stretch.
- Breathing out, bend forwards. Stretch the arms out in front, and touch the palms to the ground.
- Try to touch the nose or chin to the ground.
- Keep the arms stretched out in front.
- Repeat 5 to 10 times.
Child’s pose (Bal asana)
The child’s pose can calm the nervous system and reduce pain.
- Kneel on the floor. You should keep your toes together and spread your knees as wide as you can.
- Lower your buttocks onto your heels.
- Sit up straight and allow your body to adjust to this position.
- After you exhale, lean forward so that your head and chest rests between or on top of your thighs. Allow your forehead to rest on the floor.
- Your arms should remain extended, palms facing down.
- Hold for one minute or more, allowing your neck and shoulders to release any tension.
To come out of this pose, use your hands to push yourself upward and sit back on your heels.
Downward facing dog (Adhomukha Savasana)
The downward face dog can increase circulation to the brain.
- Start on your hands and knees. Align your wrists under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.
- Stretch out your elbows and relax your upper back.
- Spread out your fingers and press down. Your weight should be distributed evenly between your hands.
- Gently lift your knees off the floor.
- You should straighten your legs, but be careful not to lock your knees.
- Lift your pelvis and lengthen your spine.
- Hold this for up to two minutes.
To come out of this pose, gently bend your knees and return to being on your hands and knees on the floor.
Corpse poses (savasana)
This pose can restore your body to a deep state of rest.
- Lie on the floor with your back to the ground.
- Let your legs spread slightly apart, and move your arms to your side. Your palms should face up to the ceiling
- Hold this position for between 5 and 30 minutes.
Some find it helpful to listen to relaxing music during this pose. During a migraine you may be sensitive to noise, so you will need to decide if the music helps you relax.
To exit this pose, you should slowly introduce awareness back into your body. Wiggle your fingers and toes. Roll to one side and allow yourself to rest there for a moment. Slowly move yourself into an upright position.
Although you can try these poses during a migraine, you may have better results if you add yoga to your daily routine.
Bridge pose (Setu Bandha Sarvang asana)
This pose opens the chest, heart, and shoulders, and can reduce any anxiety you may be having.
- Lie on your back on the floor. Your knees should be bent, and your feet should be on the floor.
- Extend your arms. Your palms should be flat on the floor.
- Lift your pelvic region upward. Your torso should follow. Your shoulders and head should remain on the floor.
- Make sure your thighs and feet remain parallel. Your weight should be distributed evenly.
- Hold this position for up to one minute.
To release this pose, you should slowly drop your torso and pelvic region down onto the floor. Allow your knees to sink downward until you’re laying flat on the floor. From there, you should slowly rise into an upright position.
Doctors currently have no cure for migraine, but treatments can help ease the symptoms. A person may have to try various treatments and medications to find one or a combination that works for them. If someone cannot manage their migraine with over-the-counter medication, they should speak to a doctor about prescription medications. Regular yoga practice can improve the severity and frequency of migraine headaches.
There are other things you can do to reduce your risk of migraines beside yoga. This includes:
- Watching your diet. You should limit your intake of trigger foods, such as chocolate, alcohol, and caffeine.
- Limiting exposure to the sun. Bright lights and sunshine can aggravate migraines.
- Keeping a daily schedule. Try to stay on the same sleeping pattern, eat proper foods, and exercise daily.