Migraine is not just your run of the mill headache; it can have a severe impact on your daily life. If you suffer from migraine headaches, then you know how tough this can be. Maybe you’ve tried medication or other treatments but still aren’t getting relief. Thankfully, there is still hope! New research has revealed that yoga can be an effective complementary treatment option for migraine. Yoga is a natural health treatment practice that taps into the nervous system, shifting your mind and body into “rest or digest” mode, thereby providing a deeper level of relaxation and relief from migraine headaches.
The Science Behind Yoga for Migraine
Yoga practice is not just a standard form of exercise; yoga targets the mind, body, and soul all at once, promoting greater overall relaxation. The primary way that yoga affects migraine is through the nervous system and the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is a major cranial nerve that connects your digestive system to the brain and controls the switch in your nervous system from rest or digest mode (parasympathetic nervous system) to flight or flight mode (sympathetic nervous system). Yoga acts on this nerve by improving vagal tone and encourages a shift into rest or digest mode, helping you to relax your body, relieve any tension, and ultimately provide relief from migraine.
There is also solid scientific research confirming the beneficial effects of yoga on migraine. A recent research study published in May 2020 found that migraine patients who underwent a 3-month yoga program had a significant reduction in headache frequency, headache intensity, and the need for medication. A study in 2014 also found similar results, in which participants had a substantial improvement in vagal tone, reduced fight or flight (sympathetic nervous system) activity, and general improvement in migraine symptoms.
5 Simple Yoga Practices to Provide Relief from Migraine
When practicing yoga for migraine relief, it is crucial to focus on calming practices rather than fast-paced exercises. Yoga styles, such as Restorative Yoga, Gentle Yoga, Yin Yoga, or Hatha Yoga, can be particularly beneficial for migraine headaches because they promote greater relaxation. Focusing on breathing exercises and meditation in your yoga practice can also further stimulate the vagus nerve and encourage relaxation, especially when you make your exhalations longer than your inhalations. If you are interested in more tailored relief, you can also reach out to a trained yoga therapist who can more effectively guide you on treatment options. To help get you started, see below for the top 5 yoga poses for migraine relief:
Yoga is a highly effective natural health treatment option that can provide significant relief from migraine headaches. So, if you suffer from migraine, try to give this holistic practice a try and see if it works for you. If you are interested in more tailored advice for gaining relief from migraine, then make sure to reach out to me for a private consultation. As a naturopath, I specialise in migraine treatment and can help you find the best natural treatment option to get your health back on track.