Step-by-Step Yoga Poses for Headache & Migraine Relief

As stated in my previous post “Yoga Poses to Cure Your Headaches & Migraines”, I will include information about each pose including a description of it/why it works, directions of how to get into this pose, helpful tips, and an image of myself doing the specific pose below, so you have a visual aid to help you in this process.


A First Cousin of Setu Bandhasana or “Out On the Table or Chair Pose”

How this pose works: Through the stretching of the body’s ventral muscles, the facial and cranial musculature is prompted to relax

Helpful Hints: Arching the lower thoracic region and upper lumbar spine can be uncomfortable and/or painful; keep these regions as close to the table or chair as much as possible to avoid discomfort

Contraindications: If you suffer from any of these issues, it is inadvisable to attempt this pose. Or, you can attempt it at your pace and at your own level as long as your body allows it without feeling pain and/or discomfort: Cerebral, ceratoid or vertebral arterial aneurysm, cervical stenosis, grade II or higher cervical antero-or retrolisthesis

Directions to get into this pose:

-Use a firm couch, sturdy table, or chair coveted with a thick blanket at one end so your spine is protected

-Place a chair beyond the edge of whichever furniture piece you choose to use and make sure the chair is facing the table or other chair you are using

-Lie on your back, lift your head and upper shoulders off the edge of the couch, table, or chair (whichever you chose to use)

-Find a helper friend and ask them to help you sit in the other (main chair), and hold your head up; then, the helper should slowly lower your head while gently stretching from your shoulders

-When your neck is extended to 45 degrees, wait a minute and a half while doing deep inhales and exhales

-Raise and extend your arms over your head so that your hands are palms up and on either side of the helper’s arms

-After 30 seconds in this position, bend your knees and push yourself a little bit further off the table or chair; slowly inch forward and breathe throughout each movement

-Continue moving in one-inch increments every 30 seconds or until the lower third of your shoulder blades reach the edge of the table or chair of your choosing

-By this point, your arms and head should be inclining further downward with your palms facing up

-Stay in this position for another minute or two so that your body sinks lower and the abdomen, chest, and throat muscles get stretched out

-When you’ve had enough, ask your helper to slowly lift your head and arms back up into an arched supine position; rest here for a minute or two before fully sitting up

Image of myself in this pose:

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Setu Bandhasana or “Bridge Pose”

How this pose works: Through this pose, you are contracting the middle and lower back while stretching out the ventral musculature in addition to consistent breathing, which is supposed to restore the cerebral circulation and relax the scalp muscles

Helpful Hints: The further down you pull your shoulders away from your head and toward your hips will be to your benefit; this posture will be most effective by following this tip

Contraindications: If you suffer from any of these issues, it is inadvisable to attempt this pose. Or, you can attempt it at your pace and at your own level as long as your body allows it without feeling pain and/or discomfort: Carotid dissection or other carotid arterial or jugular venous pathology or cervical disc herniation

Directions to get into this pose:

-Lie flat on your mat with your back slightly arched, arms at your sides, and a second mat underneath your shoulders for extra comfort (optional)

-Bend your knees, push your feet away from you as you inhale, and slowly raise your torso off your mat

-In other words, straighten out your knees a little without sliding your feet away from you; this specific action helps raise your chest forward and towards a position over your throat

-Place your hands under the back of your waist while keeping your fingers pointing toward each other

-Once you establish stability in this position, press your feet away from you but don’t let your feet move

-Use this force to your advantage by raising your torso higher and lifting your chest vertically up over your chin (Keep breathing through each movement!)

-Breathe slowly and consistently; fill the bottom of your lungs with air first, then the middle, and then stretch out your whole body while continuing to inhale and exhale

-Inflate the top of your lungs with air and spread it down through your shoulders and throat, if possible; Just try your best here!

-Keep breathing until you feel comfortable and once you feel uncomfortable, ease out of the position by reversing the steps you took to get into it

-Relax the pressure on your feet, release your hands and slowly unroll the torso

-Remain with your knees bent for a minute or two before fully extending your legs and sitting up; try a seated forward fold at the end before fully rounding up to standing

Image of myself in this pose:

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Paschimottanasana or “Seated Forward Bend Pose”

How it works: By stretching the hamstrings out, you generate impulses from the golgi tendon organs, which tend to relax the extensor muscles of the entire body’s trunk, neck, and scalp; the effect normally sets in within 90 seconds of entering the pose

Helpful Hints: Rather than trying to get your head to your shins, think about getting your navel to descend between your thighs

The term “Paschimottan” translates to “extreme bend of the west”, and many Yogis face east when they do asana, therefore, the attention of this pose is on the back of the body

Contradictions: If you suffer from any of these issues, it is inadvisable to attempt this pose. Or, you can attempt it at your pace and at your own level as long as your body allows it without feeling pain and/or discomfort: Severe osteoporosis, herniated lumbar intervertebral disc, late pregnancy, or severe impingement syndrome (shoulder-related)

Directions to get into this pose:

-Sit upright on your mat or a soft blanket and fully extend your knees while keeping your ankles together

-Elongate your torso vertically as you deeply inhale and slightly arch your back

-As you exhale, draw your entire torso forward while hinging at the hips and not the waist

-As you lean forward, turn your hands downward and outward while trying to grasp one wrist with the opposite hand beyond your feet, if your body allows it

-Flex your quadriceps and outer thighs to inactivate the hamstrings and inner thigh muscles

-Rest your cheekbones on your shins with the intent to bring your head and shoulders forward rather than down

-Clasp either wrist tightly while relaxing your arms and shoulders

-Allow your elbows to pull your forward and down until your chin is on your legs just below your knees (Do your best here. Let your body take you where it can go)

-Keep breathing and once you’ve had enough, unclasp your hands and slowly rise up to the upright position you started in

-Image of myself in this pose:

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Viparita Karani or “Inclined Plane Pose”

How it works: This slight inversion position distributes the body’s blood more to the upper body and less to the lower body, which changes gravity’s tug on the small and large blood vessels of the upper torso, neck, and head. In addition, by recalibrating the tension of tiny muscles of the arterioles often relieves tension as well as migraine headaches

Helpful Hints: Lying at too great of an angle can actually increase your pain, therefore, it is best to elevate your torso to 35 degrees and silently scan your body from head to toe looking for any sensations. Do this for the whole time you are in this pose and continue scanning from head to toe and then back up again while consistently breathing. Make sure you do not neglect the neck, throat, and face during the breathing and observation of your body during this pose

Contraindications: If you suffer from any of these issues, it is inadvisable to attempt this pose. Or, you can attempt it at your pace and at your own level as long as your body allows it without feeling pain and/or discomfort: Extreme hypertension, aneurysm, or cerebral clips

Directions to get into this pose:

-Lie on your back with your legs and torso on an inclining stack of either pillows, thick blankets, bolsters, or a slant board covered with soft towels or blankets

-The optimal angle to get your body at is 35 degrees

-If you cannot get into this pose and angle on your own, ask a friend or family member to assist you until you get to 35 degrees comfortably

-Your head should be horizontal and your neck should be relaxed

-Let your facial muscles and expression dissolve and relax

-You can stay in this position anywhere from 5-15 minutes, depending on your comfort level and pain level

Image of myself in this pose:

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If you’d like more yoga pose tutorials like the ones in this post, please leave a comment below and let me know what you’d like to see more of!

Namaste and peace to you all ❤

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Sources

Fishman, Loren. “Chapter Ten: Headache.” Healing Yoga: Proven Postures to Treat Twenty

Common Ailments — from Backache to Bone Loss, Shoulder Pain to Bunions, and More. New York: W.W. Norton, 2015. N. pag. Print.

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