Yin Yoga For Headaches
A regular yoga practice (especially yin) can help prevent headaches by keeping your tissue pliable and your muscles long and responsive. However, for those times when one creeps up, or if you suffer from regular tension headaches, this yin practice is your medicine. Before you reach for the Ibuprofen, drink a glass of water and try this out.
Parsvottonasana Arms: Clasp opposite wrists behind your back. If your shoulders are more open, walk your hands along opposite forearms to clasp near the elbows. If that feels pretty open through the shoulders bring the palms to touch, fingertips pointing into the low back. From there begin to slide the pinkies up the spine. As you breathe let the ribs soften while gently drawing the shoulder back. Take 10 deep breaths here. If grabbing opposite wrists or arms, switch the arm on top and repeat the breath.
Garudasana Arms: Release the forearms or palms and take 5 breaths with the arms at your sides. Bring your arms into a T and imagine there is a large beach ball on your chest. Being to "hug" the beach ball bringing one elbow on top of the other. Bring the forearms toward each other and wrap the arms as best as you can. The palms will be facing one another. Take 10 breaths, release and repeat with the opposite arm on top.
Gomukasana Arms: Release the arms and take 5 breaths in a neutral position. Lift your right arm towards the sky, bend the elbow and bring the palm to rest on the upper back. Pause here and take a few breaths, gently moving the back of your skull into your forearm and subtly lifting the collar bones up. Take the back of your left palm to your lower back. You might stay here, or you may continue to bend the elbow to slide the left hand further up the spine. Eventually the palms may meet and the hand may clasp. Take 10 breaths here and switch sides.
Seated Twist: Cross your right shin in front of your left. Gently take your left hand to your right knee and twist. Don't force the movement, just notice the natural movement in the upper and middle back. You want to take 10 deep, full breaths here before placing your left shin in front of the right and twisting to the left.
Supported Supta Baddha Konasana: You will need a bolster or something else to support you: stack of blankets, towels, pillows, laundry. Lie back on your bolster or a narrow collection of supportive items. Use a little extra support under your head like a pillow or block under your bolster. The support should come all the way to the top of your glutes to give the low back support. Bring the soles of the feet together and let the knees fall away from one another. Use support under the thighs if needed. Breathe here, relaxing the muscles of the jaw, tongue, ears, eyes and neck.
Supported Balasana (Child's Pose): From the pose above rise into a tabletop position. Take the knees about as wide a your mat and walk your hand forward. Place a bolster or other supportive material under your chest and head. Breathe here for 10-20 full breaths as the chest and back begin to release. Let the middle of the forehead be supported and feel the connection.
Supported Pachimottonasana (Forward Bend): Lift back into tabletop position, find your seat with the legs extended out in front of you. The legs can be together, hip width or wider. The goal here is to allow the muscles of the upper back release, not to stretch the hamstrings. Place any support you need and like on or between the legs and allow the head and/or chest to be supported. Stay here for 10 full breaths.
Viparita Karni (Legs Up): This pose is great at the beginning stages of a headache. However, if experiencing a migraine skip it and rest in Savasana. Place a folded blanket or bolster near the wall. Place your low back on the support and rest your legs against the wall. Stay here with your eyes closed or covered for a few minutes.
Savasana: Relax completely with a small support under your head and neck. Set a timer for 5 minutes and let go completely.