Yoga headache relief poses

How to Practice Yoga for Headache and Migraine Relief

Ease stress, muscle tension and headache pain with these simple yoga moves.

Feel a headache coming on? It may be time to unroll your yoga mat.

Research consistently shows that yoga can help give headache and migraine sufferers some extra relief, making it a great supplement to their pain-fighting arsenal.1 For instance, in a recent study of migraine sufferers, those who added a five-day-a-week yoga practice to their migraine management plan felt more relief than those who stuck to conventional care. They also demonstrated decreased levels of physiological stress.1

After all, stress is a major contributor to both headache and migraine pain. According to the National Headache Foundation, tension-type headaches are the most common forms of headaches, typically associated with tightening of the muscles in the back of the neck and scalp. 2 Meanwhile, migraine attacks often accompany times of stress. 3 A single yoga session can sometimes be all it takes to reduce levels of stress.4 Because of this, yoga for headaches make a lot of sense!

“For most of us, there is just too much going on at once and our system, our body, and our mind get overwhelmed. It puts our nervous system on alert,” says certified yoga instructor Kelly Moore, co-founder of Mindfuel Wellness, which brings health and wellness initiatives to companies throughout Chicago. “Yoga is a great practice to reduce stress and relieve tension in the body, thereby relieving headaches.”

Bend This Way: 5 Best Yoga Poses for Headache Relief

Integrate these simple stress-busting yoga poses into your daily routine to prevent pain before it starts. Or, whenever you feel a headache creeping on, try taking a short yoga time out. If this is your first time practicing yoga, you may want to consult your doctor or healthcare professional.

When moving through these poses, it’s important to concentrate on continually taking full, deep diaphragmatic or “belly” breaths, according to Moore. With each breath, your stomach, rather than your chest and shoulders should move, indicating that you are getting the most oxygen with every breath as well as giving the too-tight muscles in your shoulders, neck, and upper back a needed break, she says. The result: Even more stress and headache relief.

Skipping your midday meal can set you up for head pain. Hunger has the ability to set off headaches, possibly because skipping meals can leave you with low blood sugar. If you’re really busy, consider making a daily calendar reminder for yourself for lunch so that the time gets automatically blocked off.

1. Child’s Pose

Get onto your hands and knees and, keeping your feet together, widen your knees to the sides of your body. Reach your arms forward on the mat and simultaneously rest your forehead on the mat and extend your hips to the mat behind you. Keep the back of your neck long and your shoulders and upper back relaxed. Stay here for eight to 10 breaths.

2. Forward Fold

In this yoga pose for headaches, stand tall with your feet hips-width apart and bend at the hips to extend the crown of your head straight down toward the floor. Soften your knees to increase the stretch, and keep your heels flat on the mat. Focus your eyes on one point toward the back edge of your mat. Your hands can rest on the mat or a block, or you can hold your elbows. Stay here for six to eight breaths.

3. Supine Twist

Lie on your back on a mat, and draw your knees to your chest and lower your legs to one side. Keeping your hips stacked, one side over the other, stretch your arms straight out to the sides of the mat with your palms facing up. Gaze up toward the ceiling or over to the hand opposite your knees. Stay here for six breaths, and repeat on the other side.

4. Legs Up the Wall

Lie on your back with your buttocks against a wall. Extend your legs up against the side of the wall. Relax your upper body with your arms next to your torso, palms facing up. Stay here for at least 10 breaths.

5. Supine Chest and Shoulder Stretch

Place a bolster or a rolled-up towel on the mat and lie down, face up, so that it supports the length of your spine. Open your arms out to the sides of your body to form a T shape and, with your palms facing up, let your hands and shoulders drop toward the floor. Stay here for at least 10 breaths.

Now that you're more familiar with yoga for headaches, try these moves whenever you feel a headache coming on or integrate them into your regular yoga routine. Plus, if you're stuck at home more often right now, yoga is the perfect indoor exercise. These yoga poses for headache relief are easily performed inside and will help you de-stress. As you exercise, remember to keep hydrated and get enough sleep. Stay up to date with headache relief tips in the Excedrin headache prevention center.


  1. Kisan, Ravikiran, MU Sujan, Meghana Adoor, Raghavendra Rao, A. Nalini, Bindu M. Kutty, BT Chindanda Murthy, TR Raju, and TN Sathyaprabha. "Effect of Yoga on Migraine: A Comprehensive Study Using Clinical Profile and Cardiac Autonomic Functions." International Journal of Yoga. Medknow Publications & Media Pvt Ltd, 2014. Web.
  2. "Tension-Type Headache | National Headache Foundation." National Headache Foundation. N.p., 25 Oct. 2007. Web.
  3. "Common Triggers - The Migraine Trust." The Migraine Trust. N.p., n.d. Web.
  4. Huang, Fu-Jung, Ding-Kuo Chien, and Ue-Lin Chung. "Effects of Hatha Yoga on Stress in Middle-Aged Women : Journal of Nursing Research." LWW. N.p., n.d. Web.


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Yoga For Migraines: 8 Poses That Can Help Relieve Your Pain


Child’s pose

Image by iStock

How to: 

  1. Bring your big toes to touch and walk your knees out wide to the width of your mat. 
  2. Then release your torso onto the ground between your thighs as you walk your fingertips towards the front of your mat. 
  3. Let your forehead rest gently on the floor and rock your head from side to side to massage out the tension.

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Why it helps:

Child’s pose is a great way to release tension from your upper body and open up your shoulders, back, and spine, which can increase blood flow to your head. Plus, by resting your forehead on the ground, you’re activating pressure points in your forehead that can relieve migraines and headaches.


Cat and cow pose

Image by iStock

Image by iStock


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How to: 

  1. Start in a neutral tabletop position with your shoulders stacked directly over your wrists and your hips over your knees. 
  2. On your inhale, drop your belly down towards your mat and gaze up towards the ceiling.
  3. Then, as you exhale, arch through your spine and tuck your chin towards your thighs.

Why it helps:

Moving between cat and cow pose not only relieves tension in your upper body but it also boosts your blood flow and circulation, according to Kelly Smith, E-RYT 500, founder of Yoga for You. This brings more oxygen to your brain, which can help ease some of your headache pain.


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Seated forward fold

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How to: 

  1. Come onto your sit bones and extend your legs straight out in front of you. 
  2. Inhale to stretch your arms high overhead, then fold forward from your hips, reaching for your shins or your feet.  
  3. Keep the length in your spine as you fold and draw your forehead towards your toes—you can always keep a slight bend in your knees to make this more accessible.

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Why it helps:

This pose stretches out your spine and opens up your shoulders, both of which relieve some of the tension often associated with headaches. Also, a seated forward folds in particular help your upper body and neck fully relax, so your head can rest on your legs with no effort.


Ragdoll pose

Image by iStock

How to: 

  1. With your feet hips-width distance apart, hinge forward from your hips and release the crown of your head down towards your mat.
  2. Let your head and neck hang heavy and keep your palms down on your mat or reach for opposite elbows.
  3. If you feel any strain on your lower back or hamstrings, place a slight bend in your knees.

Why it helps:

Another name for ragdoll pose? Forward fold. “By allowing your head to bow towards the earth and letting go of all tension from your neck and spine, the gentle hug from gravity can help with your headache pain, and create space in the spine and neck,” Smith explains.


Downward dog

Image by iStock

How to: 

  1. Start in your tabletop position. Tuck your toes under and lift your hips up and back, sinking your heels down towards your mat. 
  2. Hug your biceps in close to your ears and lengthen through the backs of your legs. 
  3. Let your head and neck relax as you release your torso back towards your thighs.

Why it helps:

Because your heart is above your head in this pose, downward dog is a type of inversion. That means that it can reverse your blood flow, causing a rush of freshly oxygenated blood to your brain.


Legs up the wall

Image by iStock

How to: 

  1. Lay on your back and extend your legs straight up towards the ceiling (you can do this against a wall, if you’d like!) so that your legs are perpendicular to your torso.  
  2. Flex your toes back towards your face and let your arms fall down by your sides.

Why it helps:

Legs up the wall is an incredibly restorative pose. Just like in downward dog, your blood is now flowing in the opposite direction—towards your brain. And the more blood and oxygen in your brain, the less painful your headache might be.


Bridge pose

Image by fizkes / iStock

How to: 

  1. Lay on your back with the soles of your feet planted on your ground (so your knees are pointing up) and your arms down by your sides. 
  2. On your inhale, lift your hips up towards the ceiling. 
  3. Keep your chin away from your chest and press the back of your head down into your mat.

Why it helps:

One big reason for migraines? Holding tension in your shoulders and neck. Bridge pose relaxes your upper body and can increase blood to your brain as your heart is lifted above your head.



Image by iStock

How to: 

  1. Lay on your back with your legs out long and your arms down by your side, palms facing up. 
  2. Relax every muscle in your body (including the ones in your face) and close down your eyes. 
  3. Let your breathing deepen. Stay here for at least 2-5 minutes.

Why it helps:

When you’re in savasana, your entire body is completely relaxed, supported by the ground below you. That release can help reduce your migraine, along with the deep breathing that accompanies this pose, which increases oxygen to your brain.

Tips and warnings.

Poses aren’t the only aspect of yoga that can help with migraines—Smith also adds that breathwork can play a major role in reducing pain. Not sure where to start? She recommends alternate nostril breathing, which she says opens and calms the mind as well as alleviates headaches. 

“Use your right hand to plug your right nostril, inhale through the left, then plug the left and exhale through the right,” she explains. “Inhale through the right, plug the right nostril and exhale through the left.” She suggests repeating this eight to 10 times for the most benefits.

Smith is a firm believer that yoga can often be beneficial in relieving migraines: “Studies show that practicing yoga and meditation can help to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, and deactivate the amygdala (the pain and anxiety center of the brain) which can help alleviate headaches from tension, and give you some relief from your pain,” she explains.

However, it’s always best to consult with your doctor before, if you’re new to the mat. While these are good recommendations for the average person, some patients with hypertension or glaucoma (for example) might not be able to do some yoga poses.

Always practice mindfully, too. “Be gentle with yourself and listen to your body,” Smith says. “If something doesn't feel right, don't do it.”

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Headache Yoga: Learn Simple Postures

Almost everyone experiences headaches from time to time. When most people sense it coming, their first reaction is to grab a painkiller like aspirin or ibuprofen. But what if we told you that there is a healthier and more effective way to deal with a headache? Who gets headaches?

Headache disorders are a global problem. They are among the most common conditions of the nervous system. However, they are often underestimated, underestimated and undertreated. 50% of the world's adults have this problem, and up to three-quarters of adults aged 18 to 65 have experienced headaches in the last year. They affect people of all geographical areas, ages, races and socioeconomic statuses. Although everyone can experience headaches, women are twice as likely to suffer from them over a long period of time due to fluctuations in estrogen levels. nine0003


There are three main types of headaches commonly experienced by the world's population. These include tension headache, migraine, and cluster headache. Keep reading to learn about the three most common options.

  • Tension headaches : This is the most common type and causes a dull squeezing sensation on both sides of the head. It can also cause aching pain in the shoulders and neck. The duration of tension headaches varies and can last from 30 minutes to a week. People often treat these headaches with over-the-counter pain medications such as aspirin and ibuprofen. Causes of tension headaches include stress, depression, head trauma, anxiety, fatigue, hunger, etc. They occur in older adolescents and adults and are more common in women than men. nine0003

  • Migraines : This is a more severe type of headache that can cause excruciating pain. The pain is usually concentrated in one area of ​​the head. Migraine attacks begin around the eyes and temples and spread to the back of the head. Episodes can last up to 72 hours. According to Dr. Elizabeth Loder, Head of Headache at the Department of Neurology at Harvard Brigham and Women's Hospital, one good way to characterize the symptoms of a migraine attack is POUND: throbbing pain, one-day duration of extreme untreated attacks, unilateral (one-sided) pain, nausea, and vomiting. , as well as disabling intensity. Loud noises, bright lights, and strong smells can also make migraine symptoms worse. Sometimes people have warning signs before an attack, such as blurred vision, numbness, or tingling on one side of the body. 90% of people with migraine have a family history. This demonstrates how often this disease can be inherited. Migraines are most common in people between the ages of 18 and 44.

  • Cluster headaches : They occur in clusters on one side of the head. They usually involve one to eight short but intense headaches per day for one to three months. They are sharp and usually last from 30 minutes to an hour. In people with this disorder, attacks will recur every few years. Attacks may cause a runny nose, and the eye on the side where the head hurts may droop and become red and watery. People become more sensitive to light and sound and become quite agitated and restless. Cluster headaches usually occur in people between the ages of 20 and 50. However, they can develop at any age. Smoking and alcohol can contribute to episodes. In addition, you are at increased risk if members of your family have a history of such seizures. Cluster headaches are almost five times more common in men than in women. nine0003

In addition to tension headaches, migraines, and cluster headaches, three other headaches include sinus headaches, cold stimulus headaches, and exercise headaches. Keep reading to learn about some of these more short term headaches and symptom variations.

  • Sinus headaches : This type of headache is caused by an infection in the sinuses. This causes pain over the forehead, around the nose and eyes, over the cheeks, and sometimes in the upper teeth. The pain goes away as soon as the infection resolves. nine0003

  • Headaches from cold stimulus: Some people experience a sharp headache-like pain when eating or drinking something cold, commonly referred to as "brain freeze". This pain only lasts for a few minutes. They can be prevented by warming cold food or drinks in the front of the mouth before swallowing.

  • Exercise headaches : Vigorous activity sometimes triggers exercise headaches. These can be avoided by making sure you're thoroughly hydrated, or potentially taking anti-inflammatory drugs before exercising. nine0003


Fortunately, yoga is a comprehensive system that can not only prevent, but also help solve these problems. Here's how:

Yoga is not only a form of physical exercise, but also a comprehensive health system. According to Peter Wayne, faculty editor of the Harvard Health Special Report, yoga addresses multiple health systems in a coherent manner rather than targeting and focusing on one particular aspect of health. This is a mind-body exercise that involves gentle movement, meditation, and breath control to stretch and strengthen the muscles. These techniques are very useful for relieving chronic pain such as headaches. The deep state of relaxation achieved during yoga practice effectively reduces stress, which is one of the most common headache triggers. In addition, it promotes healthier lifestyle habits, including healthy eating and getting enough sleep. These changes can reduce the risk of headaches and relieve stress during an attack. nine0003

The exercises included in the yoga movements are also a natural remedy for headaches. It reduces head discomfort by supporting a healthy heart and blood vessels while lowering blood pressure and improving mood. Many studies support how mind-body exercise is a practical solution for chronic headache management. Nearly 10% of the migraine-prone population stop using over-the-counter migraine medications because of adverse side effects. Therefore, incorporating yoga into your daily routine should be considered as a healthy and effective alternative treatment for headache management. nine0003


Take a yoga mat and try these three yoga poses that you can use to prevent or relieve headaches: : Victorious breath is also known as oceanic breath, serpentine breath, whispering breath, and snoring breath. This breathing exercise focuses on your breath and calms the mind. Grab a yoga mat and either sit up straight or lie on your back to do the exercise. Or you can also find another comfortable surface. Maintain the contraction in your throat so that your breath makes a whispering sound. Keep your mouth closed and inhale through your nose. Control the breath with the diaphragm and make sure that the inhalation and exhalation are the same length. nine0003

  • Benefits of : Ujjayi Pranayama is a great way to manage headaches by calming the parasympathetic nervous system and relieving stress. It also allows more oxygen to reach the brain. This can reduce your risk of getting a headache and relieve pain if you already have existing discomfort.

  • Risks and contraindications : When practicing victory breathing, be careful not to close your throat. If this is your first time doing this breathing exercise or if you have low blood pressure, you should do it with a certified instructor to guide you. Stop the procedure if you feel dizzy or faint. If you have any medical concerns, please consult your doctor first. nine0003

Descending Dog (adho mukha svanasana) : Start on the hands and knees with the wrists directly under the shoulders and the knees under the hips. Squeeze your fingers, stretch your elbows and release your upper back. Evenly distributing your weight on your hands, slowly push off your knees to straighten your legs. Stay in the pose by lifting your pelvis and lengthening your spine. Hold this pose for up to two minutes. As you exit the pose, relax your knees and return to the hands and knees position. nine0003

  • Benefits : This yoga pose helps circulation and increases blood flow to the brain. It can relieve headaches and help you feel more energized. In addition, the downward facing dog pose calms the mind and relieves stress, relieving headaches and reducing your risk of getting a headache.

  • Risks and Contraindications : This pose is not recommended for people suffering from high blood pressure, retinal detachment, weak eye capillaries, or any other infection affecting the eyes and ears. Also, if you have recently injured your ankles, legs, hips, shoulders, back, or arms, it is recommended to wait until you have recovered before doing this pose. nine0003

  • Modifications : People with sensitive wrists or carpal tunnel syndrome may need to modify this posture. One option is to use a rolled up towel under the palms of your hands. You can also try Dolphin Pose, which is done with your forearms on the ground to avoid pressure on your wrists.

Child's Pose (Balasana) : This is a restorative yoga pose that allows you to completely relax and stretch. To begin, kneel on the ground and touch your big toes to each other. Sit back on your heels and open your knees so that they are hip-width apart. Slowly bend forward, lower your head straight down and rest it on the floor in front of you. Lengthen and stretch your upper body and arms forward in front of you so that the palms are facing down. Take a few deep, slow breaths. To come out of the pose, push your hands back onto your heels. nine0003

  • Benefits of : This pose calms the nervous system to reduce pain. In addition, it relieves stress and tension in the upper body, helping to reduce and prevent headaches.

  • Risks and contraindications : Balasana should not be performed if you are pregnant. Also, do not attempt this pose if you have a knee injury or are suffering from diarrhea, as it may worsen these conditions.

  • nine0033

    Head to Knee Pose (Janu Sirsasana) : Begin in a seated position with legs straight in front of you. Bend your left leg and bring your left foot to your right thigh. Turn to face the outstretched right leg and move your hands towards the foot. Keep your right leg bent and press your right thigh into the ground. When you reach maximum forward lean, you can either keep your spine and neck lengthened or relax into a stretch. Depending on how far you can reach, grab your foot, ankle, or calf. Stretch your spine with each inhale and relax deeper into a stretch with each exhale. Hold this position for ten breaths and repeat the exercise on the other side. nine0003

    • Benefits of : The head-to-knees posture effectively calms the brain, relieving headaches. In addition, it reduces stress, anxiety, and depression, which can contribute to headaches.

    • Risks and contraindications : This pose should not be practiced if you have asthma or diarrhea. Also, if you have a knee injury, it is essential that you do not fully bend your knee. Instead, consider using a folded blanket to support your knee so as not to aggravate the injury. nine0003

    Other postures that can be used to relieve tension include:



    Ninety percent of people who get migraines have a family history. Of those 90%, nearly all experience recurring episodes. If you are prone to headaches, you must learn how to deal with them effectively. Although many people choose to use medications, they can be expensive and often ineffective. Moreover, it may even have unwanted side effects. Studies have shown that with yoga therapy, the intensity and frequency of headaches are reduced to a greater extent than with conventional treatment. This demonstrates how migraine patients can practice yoga to manage pain and reduce the frequency of episodes. nine0003


    Yoga is a highly effective activity for pain relief. Half of the people in the US who suffer from chronic headaches use mind-body techniques such as yoga to relieve pain. Other methods include meditation, deep breathing, and stress management, which are also taught through yoga. Mind-body therapy helps reduce stress, one of the most common headache triggers. In addition, yoga promotes a healthy lifestyle, including a nutritious diet, regular exercise, and adequate sleep, while limiting episodes. Practicing yoga supports heart and vascular health while boosting mood, relieving stress, and preventing high blood pressure—three common causes of migraines and headaches. nine0003


    Yoga should not give you a headache. If you experience a headache during yoga, then most likely it is caused by the environment or the harmful effects of the environment. Here are some factors that can contribute to headaches that you should consider:

    • Dehydration : This is one of the most common causes of headaches that occur when you don't drink enough water. Some types of yoga involve vigorous exercise that results in your body sweating. This increases your risk of dehydration. Increasing the blood supply to the head by drinking water is a powerful remedy in preventing headaches. Watch for additional symptoms, including fatigue, dizziness, dark yellow urine, and dry mouth. Drink water before and during yoga to prevent dehydration. nine0003

    • Fasting : Eating before any exercise is essential as our body needs glucose for energy. Suppose you do not consume enough food before yoga. In this case, your blood glucose levels may drop, leading to hunger headaches. Other symptoms may include sweating, nausea, and fainting.

    • Bright light : Bright light, both indoors and outdoors, can cause headaches. In addition, people who practice yoga outdoors are at risk for heat headaches due to sun glare and sunlight. nine0003

    • Inversions : In inversions, your heart is above your head, causing you to be in an inverted position. These poses can provoke a headache.

    • Overexertion : New yoga practitioners participating in an advanced class may overexert themselves. Moving beyond the limits of your body can cause headaches, so it is recommended to start with yoga classes for beginners. nine0003

    • Incorrect technique : Yoga requires correct technique and the form varies depending on the posture. Having good form is the key to injury prevention. Without it, you risk tightening the muscles in and around your neck and head, which can cause headaches, tension, and discomfort.

    • Wrong breathing : people who are new to yoga sometimes accidentally hold their breath while concentrating on a posture or movement. Improper breathing makes it difficult for oxygen to reach the brain and muscles. This can cause muscle tension and headaches. nine0003

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    The benefits of Ujjayi breathing and how to do it.

    Headache Remedies to Make You Feel Better - Harvard Health

    Tai Chi or Yoga? 4 Important Differences - Harvard Health.

    Non-opioid options for managing chronic pain - Harvard Health.

    Forward tilt of the head to the knees (Janu Sirsasana).

    The effect of yoga on migraine: A comprehensive study using the clinical profile and the autonomic functions of the heart. nine0003

    Cluster headache - Symptoms and causes - Mayo Clinic.

    Yoga headache: causes, treatment, prevention, details.

    Yoga for migraine: Does it work?

    Attention for migraine sufferers: New research shows yoga is an effective form of treatment.

    Headaches: What you need to know when to worry - Harvard Health.

    Tension headache: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia.

    Headache related disorders. nine0003

    Child's posture: how to practice Balasana.

    How to Practice Ujjayi Breathing in Yoga -,Ashtanga%20and%20Vinyasa%20yoga%20practices.

    A Beginner's Guide to Doing the Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) | YogaUOnline.


    Asanas for headaches

    Asanas for headaches

    The proposed complex of asanas will help relieve headaches due to stress or tension. nine0003

    Bandage on the head (bandage), worn to perform forward bends, can be used with the very beginning. The bandage will help ease the internal tension that arises. along with a headache. However, the bandage should not be made too tight.

    By as with regular yoga practice you will become stronger and healthier, headaches will visit you less frequently, and if you it will be easier to get rid of them.

    Posture with crossed rollers

    Supta Baddhakonasana

    Sapozhnik pose, lying on the back


    Standing (with a head support)

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    SECOUSE UNDERSTANDER. Put the folded blanket on the stool, stand in front of it with your feet 30-45 cm wide. Lean forward and lower your head on the stool. Bring your hands behind your head and relax. Stay in this position for 1-2 minutes, then straighten up. nine0018


    Full forward bend (with head support)

    Longitudinally lay the valie on outstretched legs and lower your head on it. Grab the feet with your hands or with tape. Relax. Stay in this position for 3-5 minutes.

    Setu Bandha Sarvangasana

    Bridge Pose

    Assume the setu bandha sarvangasana position with two rolls and a stack of blankets under your lower back. or lengthwise bolster, as shown in the photo, if necessary, use the footrest. Relax. Stay in this position for 5-8 minutes, then lower yourself to the floor.

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