When you have a migraine headache, chances are you just want to lie in a dark, quiet room with your eyes closed. Any sort of physical activity probably sounds like unnecessary torture. But believe it or not, theres one yoga posture that may have you hitting the mat next time a migraine sets in.
First, its important to distinguish between a migraine and just a bad headache. A migraine is brought on by a quick constriction of the blood vessels in the brain followed by rapid dilation. A regular headache happens when the blood vessels constrict and stay constricted.
One of the greatest benefits of yoga for migraine sufferers and non-sufferers alike is the reduction in stress. For migraine sufferers this is especially important because yogas impact on the nervous system may calm the part of the brain that causes the pain. On top of that, yoga actually stimulates chemicals in the brain, including serotonin, that keep the blood vessels from constricting and setting off migraines in the first place.
Legs Up the Wall for Migraine Pain
The best way to ease a migraine is to take action before it has a chance to strike with full force. If you miss your window, though, you may still find success with a few gentle movements. Youll most likely want to avoid inversions since those positions may make a migraine worse.
The restorative posture Viparita Karani, also known as Legs Up the Wall, may be an effective way to get some much-needed relief from painful migraines.
Lie on your back with your knees bent and your toes touching the wall. Lift your legs to plant your feet against the wall. Press down with your hands so you can shift your buttocks closer to the wall. The goal is to have it touch the wall, but if thats too difficult, move as close as you can. You can also use a bolster or folded blankets as support under your hips.
Straighten your legs so the back of your legs up to your heels are against the wall. Your torso should be perpendicular to the wall and arms extended alongside your body.
Close your eyes and surrender to the posture. Allow your breath to slow, and hold the pose for 5 to 10 minutes. Make sure to keep your neck and head straight throughout the pose.
This posture is effective in its ability to calm the mind and reduce tension. It also has been found to help maintain regular blood pressure and reduce anxiety.
The breathing aspect of yoga and especially this posture plays a crucial role in easing migraine pain as well. The Pranayama practice increases the amount of oxygen moving through the body, including to the brain, and helps to ease any tension in the body that may be adding to the pain.