When Stress = Headaches, Hop on Your Yoga Mat
When you're suffering from a dull, tension headache, try these yoga poses before reaching for medication. They're a series of forward bends and reclining poses that will soothe your head and release tension from your neck. They'll also improve circulation, slow down your breath, and calm your mind.
Standing Forward Bend
Begin with your feet together and fold forward, coming into a Standing Forward Bend. Use your abdominal muscles to draw your torso closer to your thighs. It's OK to have a bend in the knees. Shake your head gently from side to side to relieve tension in your neck. Hold for at least five breaths.
Downward Facing Dog
Slowly walk your feet back coming into Downward Facing Dog. Lengthen through your spine and relax your head between your shoulders. Close your eyes and allow blood to circulate to your head. Stay for at least five breaths, breathing deeply.
Lower your knees and shins to the floor and fold your torso forward coming into Child's Pose. You can keep your knees together or separate them to increase the stretch in your lower back and hips. Either extend your arms out in front of you, or rest them beside your legs. Close your eyes and hold this stretch for five breaths or longer.
Head to Knee
Sit up and extend your legs straight out in front of you. Bend your right knee and place the sole of your foot against your left inner thigh. Then fold over your left leg, coming into Head to Knee Pose. Stay for as long as you want and then do the other side.
Bend you knees and bring your feet together. Using your hands, open your feet up like a book and use your elbows to press your knees toward the floor. Lengthen your spine, drawing your belly button in, holding Butterfly. Relax your shoulders and gaze either in front of you or toward your feet, staying for five breaths.
Lower onto your back. Bend your knees and place your heels as close as you can toward your bum. Interlace your hands underneath you and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Lift your hips off the ground, coming into Half Wheel, also known as Bridge. If your ankles are close enough, you can hold onto them instead. Stay here for at least five breaths, feeling an opening in the shoulders and the front of the body.
Legs Up the Wall
Stand up and walk over to a wall. Place a pillow or folded blanket against the wall, sit down on it, lift your legs up and come into Legs Up the Wall. Allow the wall to support the weight of your legs. Stay here for as long as you want, just keep breathing.
Move away from the wall, lie on your mat and extend your legs and arms. Release every muscle in your body, coming into Savasana, Corpse Pose. You can massage your head and neck a little and then place a soothing eye pillow over your eyes. Relax the muscles in your face and shoulders, and just follow your breath. Stay here for several minutes, and when you're ready, sit up slowly.