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.
Headaches are never normal.
They are a sign from your body that something is not right, and you need to pay attention.
It could be as simple as you haven’t had enough water that day. Or perhaps you have spent too long in glare, or looking at a computer screen.
Could it be a hangover? Perhaps not enough sleep last night. You might be stressed, or skipped a meal.
Maybe your blood sugar is too high. Or your blood sugar is too low. Perhaps you have eaten something that you are intolerant too. Possibly your liver is not functioning as it should.
It could be that you have a nutritional deficiency, or excess.
Maybe you have an infection.
Perhaps your back and neck muscles are tight, or your hair is pulled into that bun too tightly. Possibly it is dental problems.
You may have a hormonal imbalance. Or perhaps your medication is responsible.
Or, a headache can mean something more serious.
Either way, headaches should be investigated.
Painkillers can help mask the pain. But they rarely address the real cause. In fact, pain killers can make the problem worse – causing “medication rebound headaches”.
Of course, I'm an advocate for natural medicine when it comes to managing headaches.
If you are worried by headaches, a naturopath can take a holistic approach and help you work out what is going on in your body to cause headaches.
And then address the root cause with gentle and effective methods – such as nutrition, herbal medicine, lifestyle counselling or referral to other practitioners who can help.
As a qualified naturopath, helping clients with headache and migraine is a special interest of mine. I’ve been there and know how frustrating it can be to not get answers or figure out what is going on.
Please feel free to get in touch and book an appointment. I’d love to help you too.
Anyone who experiences migraines (or is close to someone that does) knows that migraine is so much more than a headache. We all know about nausea and vomiting, and sensitivity to light, noise and smell – but there are many, many other migraine symptoms which are often overlooked.
For example, my partner used to be able to tell I had a migraine on the way when one of my eyes would water, or the eye would become smaller. If I have trouble talking or finding the right word, then I take that as a sign to put into place my migraine-avoiding strategies.
Migraine.com asked their Facebook community for their “strangest” migraine symptoms:
Sore eye lashes
Vibrations in arm or chest
Alice in Wonderland Syndrome
Symptoms source: www.migraine.com.
As we all experience migraines very differently, it can be useful to start keeping a diary of your own migraines, and write down as many symptoms that you notice before, during and after a migraine. Understanding your early symptoms and treating your migraine as soon as you notice them, is your best chance of avoiding a full-blown migraine