Almost everyone with concerns about headaches refers to them at
first as migraines. There seems to be a general misconception
that a really bad headache is automatically a migraine. In
actuality, the vast majority are musculoskeletal headaches. A
classic migraine is a horse of a very different color. It is
often located on one side of the head only, sometimes preceded
by a type of early warning system consisting of a visual aura,
often described as flashing lights or tunnel vision.
Migraines are a particularly severe form of persistent headache.
Pain is experienced on one side in particular which builds up to
unbearable intensity. It is often accompanied by nausea,
vomiting and the need to sleep. Some sufferers have regular
attacks of migraine, some experience vision and other sensory
Children as young as three can have migraines, more women than
men have migraines and migraines can run in families.
Unfortunately, it is a fairly common form of illness, though the
frequency and severity varies with the individual. Research is
ongoing to understand the causes and cures for migraine.
According to Ayurveda, migraine headaches are due to a disorder
in tridosha, disorders in vata, pitta, or kapha, migraines
frequently occur when systemic pitta moves into the
cardiovascular system, circulates, and affects the blood vessels
around the brain.
Migraine or hemicranias is a vascular headache caused by the
inflammation and irritation of the nerve endings resulting from
the expansion of the blood vessels of the surface of the brain.
Migraines can be triggered by many factors, some of which are
sensitivity to particular food and drink, over fatigue, over
excitement, pressure at work, emotional stress.
One contemporary theory of how migraines occur states that the
arteries that feed the brain narrow temporarily due to a variety
of factors, stress and muscular tension being two common ones.
For a migraine sufferer, there is then a sudden shift in the
blood vessels and they abruptly dilate, increasing the blood
flow to the head. This sudden shift results in the intense pain
of the migraine episode. If you can somehow keep your body’s
nervous system more relaxed from day to day, the initial
narrowing of the blood vessels that predisposes someone to a
migraine might be eliminated and the chance of the migraine
There may be spots of light before the eyes which are seen even
when the eyes are closed. Headache may be followed by vomiting
nausea, and sensitivity to noise and light. There are several
variations on this classic pattern.. Migraine often starts in
childhood. Spots of light are caused by constriction of blood
vessels followed by dilatation and distention. The carotid
artery and its branches in the brain and meanings when dilated
give rise to severe headache. Is is accompanied by nausea and
Hatha yoga practice can help reduce the frequency and intensity
of migraine headaches. A yoga practice can be of any intensity
that you desire, as long as there is a conscious effort to keep
it steady and even, and as long as you spend time gradually
increasing the activity and then gradually cooling down through
the course of a given practice.
Establish a regular practice where you are in charge of
determining your level of effort from day to day, and find an
experienced teacher to guide you when difficulties arise. This
will lead you on the road to better health, especially when it
comes to coping with a health condition such as migraines.
Stress triggers headaches. Stress may be unavoidable but how it
is managed may defuse the trigger – yoga stretches, breath work,
meditation and relaxation all help us to manage stress. Yoga
breathing practices may help sufferers manage, relieve and
reduce pain. Poor posture produces chronic muscular tension,
particularly in the upper back, shoulders and neck. Chronic neck
tension often causes headaches. Regular practice of yoga
relieves neck tension. An experienced yoga teacher will show you
how to adjust and realign your posture to avoid neck tension.
Rest in a quiet and darkened room and place a cool cloth on your
head will also help you alot.
Diet plays very crucial role in yoga. According to yoga food
influences the physical and mental conditions of the individual.
So it is said that, ‘as you eat, so you become’. If you not take
proper diet you harm yourself physically and mentally. What we
digest and assimilate is more important than what we eat. Eating
too many times, too much at one time, too much of spices and
fats, eating in a hurry are some of the common mistakes which
make the diet faulty. Faulty diet aggravates disorders, and may
itself be the cause of some disorders. Irregularities of diet
and excessive exertion must be avoided. The diet should have low
content of fats and oils. Avoid hot, spicy foods, fermented
foods, and sour or citrus fruits. Exposure to heat or cold
should be avoided.
In yoga all foods have been divided into three categories. This
categorizing is not done on the basis of their caloric count.
Sattvic food: It is the purest diet and highly recommended for
yoga practitioner. This type of food is cooked with the least
amount of spices and without much seasoning. It includes
cereals, fresh fruits and vegetables, milk and milk products,
nuts, seeds and honey. It nourishes the body and maintains it in
a peaceful state. It also keeps calm and purifies the mind,
enabling it to function at its maximum potential.
It is very hot nature, spicy, bitter, sour, pungent, dry and
excessively salty. Such food items are not recommended for
mind-body equilibrium. They function as body stimulant and
excite the passions, making the mind restless and
uncontrollable. They include fish, egg, coffee, tea, meat etc.
This type of food creates extra weight and fat, generate feeling
of heaviness for a longer period of time after dinner, and
It is stale, tasteless more or less spoiled food, and containing
foul odour, artificial additives. Tamasic food items include
alcohol, tobacco, onions, garlic and fermented foods such as
vinegar. Tamasic food is at all not useful to nourish either
body or mind. They make the body dull, lazy, drowsy and decrease
immune power, filling the mind with dark emotions such as anger
and greed. It makes one quarrelsome and intolerant. One should
'eat to live, not live to eat'.
Viparit Karani(Legs up the wall pose
Balasana (Child Pose)
Naukasana (Boat Pose),
Dhanurasana (Bow Pose),
Ardha Matsyasana (Spinal Twist Pose),
Vrikshasana (Tree Pose),
Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand)
Sirsasana (Head Stand): It maybe practiced for one minute and
Sarvangasana for five minutes daily.
Kriyas like jal neti,
Treatment with pranayama can be started only after an attack is
over. Pranayama should be preceded by three rounds of
Kapalabhati. Six rounds of Shitali pranayama (without kombhaka)
may be practiced in the end.
Shitali Pranayama (Without Kumbhaka): This breathing
exercise will lower the body temperature, and make the saliva
cool. It also helps to quench thirst, and improves digestion,
absorption, and assimilation.
Meditation: relaxation and
Case-1 Cut down the frequency of migraine
attacks by over 70% with Yoga.
Yoga can cut down the frequency and lessen the intensity of
migraine attacks by over 70%. A three-month study conducted by a
team of researchers from the University of Rajasthan have found
that a combination of certain yoga postures, breathing exercises
and chants helped reduce migraine attacks substantially.
At the end of the study period, the team led by Dr P J John
found that yoga significantly reduced levels of cortisol (stress
hormones) in the 72 subjects enrolled for the study besides
improving their heart rate variability (measure of variations in
the heart rate).
Reduction of HRV is associated with hypertension, hemorrhagic
shock and septic shock. The team has reported its findings in
the latest edition of the international medical journal
"Scientists have been considering serotonin, a brain chemical,
to be a crucial factor for headaches. They think low serotonin
levels might cause blood vessels to dilate and cause migraine.
And yoga is known to improve levels of serotonin. This made us
embark on the study and see whether improving serotonin level
could actually reduce migraine attacks".
John's team randomly assigned 72 migraine sufferers to one of
two groups. One group received education on managing their pain
by avoiding migraine triggers and making diet and lifestyle
The other group received yoga therapy, which included gentle
yoga postures like ardhakati chakrasana, ardha chakra, shishank
asana and ardha matsadrasana, kriyas like jal neti, shatkriya,
kripal bharati and pranayam besides breathing practices,
relaxation and meditation.
Participants practised five days a week for one hour. After
three months, the yoga group showed an overall improvement in
the frequency and intensity of migraine attacks, whereas the
comparison group showed either no change or worsened symptoms.
"The average age of the study group was 20-38 years with
migraine severity of 7.6 in a scale of 10. Patients who took
part in a yoga therapy programme, undertaking breathing
exercises, neck and shoulder exercises, sideward and forward
bending postures started having headaches less often and endured
less pain with each migraine attack. It also significantly
improved symptoms of anxiety, stress and depression," John said.
According to the team, numerous studies have explored the
effectiveness of complementary and alternative medicine in the
treatment of migraine but there was no documented investigation
of the effectiveness of yoga for migraine management.