Yoga for Migraines

You feel a migraine coming on and you're looking for relief from the pounding, nausea, and pain. Have you thought about trying yoga to help with your aching head? It may sound strange, but yoga might help. 

Studies show that people who do yoga and take medicine for migraines have fewer and less intense headaches than people who just take medicine. About 10% of people who get migraines or bad headaches practice yoga.

You also may find that it helps you in other ways. For example, it might make you more coordinated or flexible.

Stress and Migraines

Lots of things trigger migraines, including certain foods, a lack of sleep, not drinking enough water, and hormonal changes. Stress is also a common trigger. Things that help ease your stress may also help with your headaches.

Yoga, which began in ancient India, is practiced all over the world. It involves deep breathing and meditation. When you practice yoga, you move slowly and hold poses. It trains you to focus on your body and be aware of how you're moving and how it feels.

Yoga can do more to lower stress and boost your mood than some more intense forms of exercise.

Getting Started

People who get migraines tend to be less physically active than people who don't. They may worry that exercise might trigger a migraine or make their head feel worse.

Gentle yoga that focuses on breathing and meditation can be a good way to start unloading your stress. One example of how this works is a style called Hatha yoga. It starts with breathing exercises, moves to poses, and ends with a resting period.

You may be tempted to begin yoga by watching a video. But it's usually better to go to a class with a teacher. Tell her about your migraines. She'll guide you through poses and change them if needed. For instance, you probably shouldn't do poses that strain your neck or put tension on it.

It's probably best to stay away from intense classes that involve heat, a lot of activity, or more advanced poses. These things could trigger migraines.

Be sure to take water and drink plenty of it during and after class.

Before you give yoga a try, talk with your doctor about it. And remember to be patient. You may need to practice yoga often for several months before your migraines get better.

It's also important to get plenty of sleep, eat on a regular schedule, and exercise to help keep migraines at bay.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Sabrina Felson, MD on March 24, 2019



Cleveland Clinic: "Migraines and Overview of Headaches in Adults."

Harvard Health: "Yoga: Benefits Beyond the Mat," "Yoga May Help Feet, Ease Migraine."

International Journal of Preventive Medicine: "Preventive Effects of a Three-month Yoga Intervention on Endothelial Function in Patients with Migraine."

International Journal of Yoga: "Effect of Yoga on Migraine: A Comprehensive Study Using Clinical Profile and Cardiac Autonomic Functions." "Migraines: What a Pain!"

Migraine Research Foundation: "Lifestyle Changes."

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: "Headaches: In Depth."

The American Migraine Foundation: "Tips for Starting Yoga in Adults with Migraines," "Yoga Helps Headaches."

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