Words by Samantha Ickes
I sit at my desk, rubbing my temples. My room is dark except for a small desk lamp and the brightness of my computer screen. As I stare at the screen, begging the words to flow out of my fingertips and form my research paper, I can feel my head pounding.
Frustrated, I shut my laptop and flip on the overhead light in my room. I grab my teal blue yoga mat and spread it out on the floor, ready for yoga to ease my headache.
Yoga is a natural way to relieve headaches through deep breathing and soft stretching poses that relieve tension in the neck, spine and shoulders. By stretching out your body, blood can flow to your head more easily and freely, according to an article I found on Shape Magazine’s website.
No matter what the source of your headache (dehydration, stress, maybe even a hangover), taking a few deep breaths and holding a few poses helps reduce some of the pressure causing your headache.
1. Child’s pose
Lower your knees and shins to the floor and bend forward until your forehead touches the mat. You can either stretch your arms over your head or behind you in line with your legs. Breathe deeply and slowly in this position.
2. Head to knee
Slowly sit up flat on your butt. Stretch one leg out and reach both arms as close to your foot as possible. Keep your head bent down facing your mat. Repeat with the opposite leg.
Draw both your legs in with your feet touching one another. Keep your head bent to stretch your neck and relieve tension. Hold this pose for a few deep breaths.
Transition onto all fours with your arms lined below your shoulders and your knees in line with your hips. Round your back as you breath in deeply, looking down toward the mat. On an exhale, arch your back as you look up. Your spine should dip down to create a u-shape. Repeat this up to five times to stretch your spine and neck.
Begin on your hands and knees with your arms shoulder-width apart. Lay your forearms against the mat, keeping them parallel with one another. Lift your hips up, careful not to lock your knees as you come into a variation of downward-facing dog known as dolphin. Keep your head down and draw circles with your head to stretch your neck as you hold this pose for at least five deep breaths.
6. Legs up the wall
This pose is exactly what it sounds like. Scoot your butt as close to the wall as possible with your legs resting against the wall. Again, be careful not to lock your knees. Rest in this position while breathing deeply. Stay in this pose for five minutes, breathing.
Besides yoga poses to relieve headaches, certain foods can help reduce the pain of headaches as well. Some of these include spinach, apples, bananas, yogurt and almonds.
Almonds and bananas are both rich in magnesium, which relaxes the blood vessels to reduce headaches and migraines. Yogurt contains calcium, which is an important part of brain function. Spinach and apples help decrease blood pressure. This can relieve stress-related headaches, and headaches caused from hangovers.
Tea can be a helpful drink to relieve headaches no matter what kind you drink: herbal, chai, green or black. Hot tea is most beneficial for headache relief. The steam coming from the tea helps alleviate any sinus problems you might have if the headache is caused by a cold. The antioxidants in tea can help remove toxins to alleviate headaches as well.