By Sara Picken-Brown

LINK TO VIDEO: https://youtu.be/iuUIbjqvuy8 

If you suffer from headaches or migraines regularly you probably understand that  the causes and reasons for them can be so complex and varied that trying to figure out the ‘why’ the headache occurred can end up being that million dollar question that gives you a bigger headache. The following gentle yoga practice can be a wonderful relief and management strategy. Sometimes the exact cause is an unknown and may even be that perfect storm of a combination of contributing factors; stress, too long in front of your tech devices, food allergies, hormonal fluctuations all rolled into a colossal ‘pain in the head’. Some people find a strong cardio session helps and others find it makes the headaches worse. There is no magic solution which is why management and prevention can be such an elusive solution. 

Yoga has been found, in the majority of cases to be of benefit. The focused breath work and mobilisation of the body can do wonders for calming the nervous system and re-aligning the spine. According to the study, published in the International Journal of Yoga, chronic migraine sufferers who practiced yoga therapy for 30 minutes 5 times a week for 6 weeks reported significantly fewer episodes and less intense migraine symptoms.

The following gentle Yoga practice can offer a way of easing the pain, assisting the circulatory system and aid in detoxification of the body. Focus on the breath and holding each posture for 5 to 10 full breaths, take your time, go slowly, listen to your body and if any of the postures do not feel relieving/pleasant or make you feel nauseous then simply stop doing them and move on the the next posture.  Alternatively, feel free to come to ‘Childs Pose’ or ‘lay in constructive rest’ on your back and focus on the breath.  Honour your body as you gently move through the practice and do as much as you can or as little. Don’t be hard on yourself, just do what you can. 

Before you begin, dim the lights and make sure you have had some water with a pinch of sea salt in it (about 20-30min prior to the practice). Dehydration can be one of the big contributing factors to headaches. 

Have an eye mask and a blanket handy for the end of the practice for your Savasana (constructive rest). 

The Gentle Flow of Postures:

(allow 5-10 breaths in each posture)

  1. Childs Pose-
  2. Spine twist in childs pose (R/L)
  3. Table top- Cat/Cow
  4. lower to floor into chaturganga 
  5. cactus peck stretch (R/L)
  6. Roll over onto your back- hug knees to chest
  7. Roll knees to right side & to left side
  8. bridge
  9. shoulder stand or L-extend
  10. come to seated- forward fold-pashimotanasana
  11. cow face or log stack forward fold.
  12. spine roll down 
  13. Savasana

By helping to relieve the tightness in the torso, chest, upper back and neck and realigning the spine we allow the body to breath fully. Resetting the nervous system though breath work (pranayama) and gentle movement allows the parasympathetic nervous system (the internal breaks) to kick in and begin to release heal and repair hormones and slow the whole sensory system (your body and brain) down.

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