By Claire Diab and Dennis Boyle
Up to 80 percent of U.S. adults suffer from occasional tension headaches. There are many causes – heightened stress being one of them. Other causes include inadequate rest, poor posture, and anxiety. Although many of us suffer from these headaches from time to time, there is good news! Many have found yoga and relaxation to help ease or even eliminate these episodes.
Although it is best to practice yoga and breathing as preventive measures on a regular basis to alleviate everyday stress and tension, you can also do a simple routine as soon as you start to feel a headache forming!
Here are some of my favorite poses to ease the mind and body and promote relaxation.
Kneel on the floor, keeping your toes together and letting your knees come wide apart. Stretch your torso and arms forward, bending your arms at the elbows. Stack your hands on top of one another and rest your forehead on your hands. Close your eyes, relaxing completely, breathing deeply and slowly through your nostrils. You can remain in this pose for up to 5 minutes.
1. Calms the brain and helps relieve stress and fatigue.
2. Relieves back and neck pain when your head is supported.
Standing Forward Bend
Standing with your legs hip width apart, bend at the hips and bring your hands to the mat. If they do not reach, you can use blocks or place your hands on your calves or knees. Letting your chin tuck toward your chest, you can feel the tension release from your neck muscles.
1. Reduces stress, anxiety, and fatigue.
2. Calms the mind and soothes the nerves.
3. Relieves tension in the spine and neck.
Relaxation Pose with a Chair
Sit on the ground. Set a chair at your feet or position yourself near a chair or couch. If the chair is wooden or has a hard surface, pad the seat with a blanket. Lie down on the ground, bending your knees to arrange your lower legs to rest on the chair or couch. Close your eyes, relax your shoulders down away from your ears, and rest here. Let yourself relax here for 5 to 10 minutes.
1. By elevating the legs, you reverse the effect of gravity on your legs and feet, helping to recirculate blood flow.
2. This pose gives all the benefits of inversion without strain–regulating blood pressure, improving digestion, and so on.
3. It is calming for the nervous system.
4. It quiets the mind by allowing you to fully relax.
Try these simple poses to prevent and alleviate tension headaches in your daily life!
Claire Diab is an internationally recognized Yoga therapist. She is the director of the Yoga Program for the Chopra Center founded by Dr. Deepak Chopra and Dr. David Simon. She is an adjunct professor of Asian Studies at Seton Hall University. She is the author of several books and DVDs on Yoga including “Yoga For Firefighters.”
Dennis Boyle is a retired fire director and acting chief with the West Orange (NJ) Fire Department. He was the recipient of the 1999 New Jersey Deputy Fire Chiefs “Fire Officer of the Year” award.