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Yoga for Headache (Migraine)

Tension head ache is another common variety of stress &lifestyle related head ache. This is the intensified version of what we all would have experienced after; we come back from a mid day shopping in the hot sun on an empty stomach. Persons suffering from Tension Headache who seek medical help are highly sensitive and would end up with a head ache even with minor triggers. A lady came to our yoga therapy residential center with a history of severe headache and said 'Doctor, I have forgotten how it feels like to be without a pain in the head. I wake up with a head ache and go to sleep with a head ache. I even have to force myself to sleep by swallowing sleeping pills. I need only a small event to aggravate my pain". Tension headaches are generally triggered or aggravated by external environmental and life style changes such as a late meal, a sunny weather, closed space, noise, automobile pollution, or a psychological situations such as tension, anxiety, anger or even a positive emotional surge like an excitement of getting a big profit or passing an examination with very good credits. Most often these events are associated with constipation and insomnia. Missing out on sleep is the commonest cause of headaches.

Present day science has clearly traced the pathway of how these events can cause headaches. The 'ache' is due to the constant long standing contraction (tightening) of the frowning muscles in the fore head called frontals. This is a thin sheet of muscle just under the skin stretching from the eye brows to the top of the head between the skin and the skull bone. Imagine holding your fist tight for one to two hours, what would happen? You would get a severe pain in the forearm and hand. Tension headache is similar to this; without your knowledge you are holding the frontals very tight. This is controlled by the motor nerves from the brain that send down a small electrical shock for the muscle to tighten. The brain is controlled by your mind. If you think or worry or overexert your mind triggers off this loop of electrical currents that tighten the forehead muscle. The problem is created unconsciously by your own mind which is oversensitive and over reactive. Therefore the remedy for the problem is also within you as an inbuilt program in your system, but you do not how to use.

Hence the first step in yoga therapy (self healing) for tension head ache is to be convinced by your own experience that your mind and your own nerves bring on the headaches. Next step is to move on to learn.

STAGE - III: (Rotation of head)


Sthiti :
Same as Stage - II, i.e., you are on your forehead.


  • While breathing normally, slowly roll the head on the floor in a circle around the top of the head.

  • Do this rotation five times clockwise and then five times anti-clockwise.

  • After 2/ 3 rotations, if you find the head moving away from its position, then you can bring it back to a comfortable position.

The techniques of reversing this process. Replace a bad habit of getting struck in the speeded up loop of reflex by a good habit of slowing down to achieve very deep rest to these nerves. This is what you learn in yoga therapy. One of the techniques included in the set of special yoga technique for headache is physical postures. These postures are specially designed to relax the tightened forehead muscles. Practices such as head rolling followed by shasankasana gives a stretch to the scalp muscles. This brings your awareness to the tight muscles, so that you can voluntarily send down the messages to the same muscles to 'let go', or 'relax'. Patanjali says practice "Praytnashaithilya",- this means while maintaining in an asana, 'let go the effort'; during a headache this effort that you need to let go is the unconscious effort of holding the muscles tight. The initial stretch during the posture also prepares you to go into deep relaxation immediately after you return from the posture.

This article has been written by Dr. R. Nagarathna, Dean, Division of Yoga & Life-sciences, SVYASA
This article is published online courtesy
and Arogyadhama

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