You have a headache and the last thing you want to do is get on your mat. In reality, getting on your mat is the best thing to help relieve this ache and pain. However, there are a few things you want to think about. What type of headache is it? Tension? Sinus? Migraine? General dull ache? Each type of headache may require a different treatment.
Here is a general sequence for tension headaches. Feel free to follow in order, or pick and choose.
- Begin with deep breathing while seated. Many headaches are caused from holding your breath. Begin ujjayi breathing. Make this a very gentle, healing breath.
- From a seated position, lower your right ear toward your right shoulder. Let your head get heavy so it stretches the left side of your neck. Tilt your chin down slightly to find the right place that releases your particular area of tension. Change sides.
- Remain seated and move arms into eagle pose. Take arms out to your sides, bring arms across your body with the left arm underneath the right. Cross arms at the elbows and bend your arms up. Cross wrists and take hands in prayer. Move the hands away from your face and lift your elbows. Change sides. This relieves tightness in the upper back and neck.
- Move legs into cobbler’s pose (diamond shape) with feet far away from your torso. Bring hands behind you and draw your shoulder blades together. Lift your heart up. If you can (and it is comfortable) look up. Hold this 5 breaths to open the chest and throat.
- Stay in cobbler’s pose. Place your arms under your shins, palms face up and allow your spine to carefully round, release your head toward your feet. This should feel very good on your upper back as long as you are not forcing or straining.
- Come onto your back. Cross your legs at the knees with your left leg on top. Take the legs to your right, across your body for a twist. Let your legs rest on the floor. Look toward your legs. You should feel this release in your upper back, shoulders, and neck. Come up, change the cross of the legs and twist to the left.
- Move to a wall and take your legs up the wall for Viparita Karani. This pose by itself is a great reliever of headaches, anxiety, depression, fatigue and listlessness. If you have some extra energy you can move to shoulder stand using the wall by placing your feet on the wall and lifting your hips up. Once up, tuck your shoulders underneath you and place hands on your low back or hips. Rest again with legs up the wall for 7-10 minutes.
- Move to seated for alternate nostril breathing- nadhi shodana. This breath is great to remove any stress, tension, and to bring the mind to a calm state.