Migraine
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How does Yoga help Migraine?

Yoga Therapy for Migraine and headaches

Have you ever thought about trying yoga to aid with your aching head? It might sound odd, but yoga might help. Yoga is much more than physical fitness and can calm your mind and body. The poses can help alleviate pain, anxiety, and depression. The exact causes for migraines are not clearly known and research shows that anxiety and stress may trigger migraines. Yoga can affect the parasympathetic nervous system by slowing it down. This, in turn, helps the body recover from stress and eventually migraines. Some types of yoga can help prevent migraines too.

Studies indicate that people who do yoga and take medication for migraines have fewer and less intense headaches than people who only take medicine. About 10 percent of people who get migraines or bad headaches practice yoga. Stress is also a frequent trigger, hence things that help alleviate your stress may also assist with your headaches.

Yoga, which started in early India, is practiced all around the world. It involves deep breathing and meditation. When you practice yoga, you proceed slowly and hold poses. It trains you to pay attention to your body and be conscious of how you are moving and how it feels.

Yoga can do more to reduce stress and boost your mood than some more extreme forms of exercise. Gentle yoga that focuses on meditation and breathing may be a fantastic way to start unloading your anxiety. One example of how this works is a style named Hatha yoga, the most common form of yoga. It begins with breathing exercises, moves into poses, and ends with a resting period.

Yoga, in general, improves circulation. Robust circulation helps in relieving all kinds of pain. Yoga works towards improving blood flow to the brain and this helps in alleviating the pressure on the constricted blood vessels of the neck that lead to migraines. Studies show that practicing yoga may actually help in both the prevention and cure of migraines and headaches. 

See: Ayurveda Treatment for Migraine

Yoga practice for migraine relief

What are some of the Yoga practices that are beneficial for Migraines and headaches?

Migraines are far more intense than common headaches. Throbbing on one side of the head, sensitivity to sound and light, nausea and dizziness are typical of migraine headaches. They can last from a few hours to a few days.

A study from 2014 concluded that yoga helped to reduced headache frequency and intensity when used in conjunction with medication. [3] Some people were able to reduce or even completely stop medication altogether. The participants saw visible improvement in the vagal tone or the amount of PNS activity. Yoga improves cardiac autonomic balance. This reduces the risk of disturbances in the autonomic nervous system and the central nervous system. This automatically reduces the risk of migraines. Yoga for headaches is a sure-fire remedy.

Richard B. Lipton(MD), director of the Montefiore Headache Center in New York, and also the Professor and Vice-Chair of Neurology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine says, “I think, broadly, relaxation methods are an effective preventive strategy, particularly for people who have stress-related migraines. I do yoga myself a few times a week and love it, and the stress-reduction benefits of yoga or cognitive-behavioral therapy or biofeedback may not only help prevent Migraine but help promote successful brain aging, as well. So, for yoga, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and biofeedback, for all relaxation and stress management modalities, it’s thumbs-up, particularly for people who note that stress is a trigger factor.”

See: Migraine diet

Scientific studies in Yoga for Migraine

Is there any research or clinical studies done to showcase the efficacy of Yoga for Migraines and headaches?


Migraine is a debilitating neurological problem. There have been many studies that prove the efficacy of Yoga being the medium to prevent, reduce and cure migraines. A relevant study was undertaken by the research team headed by Ravikiran Kisan, Department of Physiology of the SS Institute of Medical Sciences and Research Centre in Karnataka.[3]

60 random patients suffering from migraines were studied over a period of six weeks. One test group was provided with conventional treatment, while the other group was given an adjuvant yoga therapy for 5 days a week in the same period. The autonomic function test was done at the end of the period. After 6 weeks both the groups showed a marked reduction in headaches with the control group practicing yoga showed better results with headaches having no significant effect in their life in the period. “Yoga intervention with conventional care has better patient's improvement and in turn acceptances, than the conventional care only, without any adverse effects”, was the inference of the study. The frequency and intensity were lesser in the yoga group. The researchers concluded that yoga can be used as an alternate or adjuvant therapy for migraine patients.


Yoga therapy has a positive effect on autonomic modulation by enhancing the vagal tone. Autonomic function tests can hence be used as a prognostic indicator in migraine patients.

See: Ginger for migraine pain relief

Summary

Yoga is practiced in many forms and studies have shown us that it can benefit patients who suffer from migraine and headaches. Both the psycho-somatic and physiological symptoms can be alleviated if the appropriate yoga asanas are practiced regularly. The gentle stretches, breathing techniques and relaxing poses are not only good for general health but especially improves the quality of life for migraine patients.

See: Migraines vs Headaches treatment

References

[1] Dumas, P. (2018, August 15). Yoga for Migraine: Research, Poses, and Principles || MigraineAgain. Retrieved June 29, 2019, from https://migraineagain.com/10-yoga-poses-for-migraine-prevention/

[2] Gross, J. B. (2013, June 07). 5 Poses for Headache Relief. Retrieved June 29, 2019, from https://yogainternational.com/article/view/5-poses-for-headache-relief

[3] Kisan, R., Sujan, M., Adoor, M., Rao, R., Nalini, A., Kutty, B. M., … Sathyaprabha, T. (2014). Effect of Yoga on migraine: A comprehensive study using clinical profile and cardiac autonomic functions. International journal of yoga, 7(2), 126–132. doi:10.4103/0973-6131.133891 

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

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

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

[7] International Journal of Yoga: "Effect of Yoga on Migraine: A Comprehensive Study Using Clinical Profile and Cardiac Autonomic Functions."

[8] Migraine Research Foundation: "Lifestyle Changes."

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

See: Home Remedies For Migraine

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