Tension headaches commonly arise from strain in the sub-occipital muscle group, a band of four muscles located at the base of the skull. Our activities of daily living may be the biggest culprit and with text neck, now, an epidemic in our culture, tension headaches are on the rise. Any activity that keeps the head looking down and forward of the spine too frequently and for too long contributes to chronic neck and shoulder tension. Luckily, this musculoskeletal problem responds well and quickly to targeted Yoga practices.
Here are 5 yoga poses to try when having a headache:
1. Child’s Pose (Adho Mukha Virasana)
Kneel on the floor with a bolster (or pillow if you don’t have bolster) placed horizontally before you. Keeping the toes together, let the knees spread apart wide, and stretch the trunk and arms forward. Take hold of opposite elbows and rest your forehead on the bolster. Close your eyes, relax completely, and remain in the pose for 3–5 minutes
2. Reclining Bound Angle Pose (Supta Badha Konasana)
Place a folded blanket at the top of a bolster. Sit in front of the bolster, facing away from it, and bring your feet together, letting the knees move all the way apart to the floor. Add a folded blanket under each knee for additional support, if necessary. Lie back on the bolster and rest your head on the blanket. Relax and rest here for 5–10 minutes.
3. Bridge Pose with Bolsters (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
Arrange two bolsters: one horizontal against the wall, and a second placed in a vertical direction a few inches apart from the first. Lie on your back,with your shoulders and head resting on the floor and your feet touching the wall. Rest the arms in a position that is comfortable—either spread out to the sides or with elbows bent and palms faced up. Remain in this position for 5–10 minutes.
4. Legs Up the Wall Pose (Viparita Karani)
This simple inversion pose releases all tension and increases blood circulation to the head area. Place your bolster horizontally, a few inches from the wall. Sit on the floor and turn onto your right side, propping yourself up with your hands. Arrange your lower back on the bolster. Lift your legs up and inch up closer to the wall until the back of your legs rest on the wall. Adjust your position on the bolster so that the lower back feels lifted and supported. You may want to place a folded blanket under the neck and head.
5. Corpse Pose with Blocks (Shavasana)
Here is a simple restorative yoga pose that will help you melt away your tension. Set a folded blanket, at your feet and set up two blocks vertically at your back and neck. As you lie down on blocks, bend the knees and arrange your low back on the block so it is comfortable and just on the sacrum to low back. Close your eyes and rest here, relaxing your entire system, for 5–10 minutes. Click here for video.
Take a break from your screen, release your tension and improve posture with these poses. Try it. Breathe deep & let go.