Study: Regular Yoga Practice Helps Relieve Migraine

For people who suffer from migraines or other forms of severe headaches, any form of relief is a godsend.  Now new evidence shows that certain types of yoga can help reduce and alleviate migraines, as well as help manage their associated symptoms, like anxiety.

Migraine sufferers don’t just struggle with severe, debilitation headaches, they also often have to endure symptoms like nausea and light sensitivity.  Migraine headaches are often caused by tension or stress or exacerbated by lifestyle factors like smoking or using certain types of hormonal birth control.  Seventy-five percent of the 28 million Americans who suffer from migraines are women.

The study, undertaken by researchers in India, measured the effects of yoga therapy on 72 migraine sufferers.  For three months, half of the group did yoga, while the other half stuck with traditional self-care methods.  At the end of the study, the yoga group reported significantly fewer migraines and less pain and intensity when they did have them.  Now the researchers are commissioning another study to further examine the effects of yoga for migraines.

The key to preventing migraines with yoga is to think preventively and to stick to gentle, breath-based yoga techniques.  If you want to start learning to manage migraine pain with yoga, experts advise staying away from so-called “yogacise” classes: heavy-duty forms of yoga meant to burn calories.

Instead, restorative yoga or gentle yoga classes are a good choice for natural pain management.  Restorative yoga is focused on complete relaxation and stress management, and predominantly done lying down.  Alternatively, look for yoga classes specifically designed for people with chronic pain or ailments or work with a yoga therapist to design an program individualized for you.  Whatever class you choose, be sure to tell your teacher about your specific problems or limitations.  

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