For many people, a headache is almost an everyday occurrence. It can range from minor discomfort to debilitating, agonizing pain. Some people experience headaches everyday all day long, while others don’t get them at all. (I’m sure they’re a minority!)
There are so many causes of a headache and the solutions for it are just as many. Sometimes the solution can be as simple as drinking a glass of water. If you live in a hot place, for example, chances are your headache is caused by mild dehydration. So get out of the heat, chug down some water and head for a long cooling shower. You’ll feel much better afterwards.
Some headaches, however, are caused by a serious health problem. So seek medical attention as needed. Depending on the cause, yoga asanas and yoga meditation can actually prevent and alleviate a headache, especially if it is triggered by stress.
Stress is one of the most common causes of a headache. This is where yoga can help you. By combining asanas, pranayam and meditation, you can have a powerful tool in combating a tension headache.
Yoga asanas can help by relaxing the neck and shoulder muscles. When you are stressed, you tense up these muscles and the ultimate result is a headache. So instead of reaching out for a dose of painkiller, take out your yoga mat for some gentle neck and shoulder stretches. End each session with yoga nidra and proceed to Yoga Sound Meditation.
If you regularly practice Yoga Sound Meditation, you will come to a point where you will see the troubles and problems that give you headaches simply as a temporary, passing show. Problems will come and go. There is no need to immerse in it.
Even if the cause of your headache is an irritating person, Yoga Sound Meditation can still help you. Sounds hard to believe? Here’s why. Through repeated practice of sound meditation, you will be more tolerant of others. The obnoxious person won’t disappear, rather you will be more patient and will not be bothered as much.
So make time everyday to practice your asanas, pranayam and Yoga Sound Meditation and prevent your headache from getting worse. If you already have a regimen to follow to manage your tension headaches, you can still incorporate these techniques I have just shared with you. In fact, yoga will complement your current regimen and you’ll notice that nagging headache will nag you no more.
The way you breathe can either help or hinder your asana practice. When you breathe smoothly and evenly, you’ll notice that your breath helps you relax into a pose, gives you more stamina, and eases tension. In fact, it’s because of the relaxing effect of the breath that we’re often told to “take a few deep breaths” when we get angry or upset. It’s also true that full, deep breathing clears the head and improves concentration. Actually, breathing right helps improve the functions of all the systems in the body.
On the other hand, taking short, shallow breaths can be detrimental to our health, decreasing our vitality. When you practice asanas, if your breathing is uneven, too shallow, or if you’re holding your breath when you don’t need to, your body will be tense and probably uncomfortable, you’ll be more likely to strain, and you won’t get the full benefits of the poses.
Asanas are meant to remove blockages and increase the flow of the subtle energy, or prana, in the body—which improves our overall health. Because your breath can really enhance the flow of this energy, become aware of your breathing as you practice asanas. If your breath tends to be shallow, uneven, and fast, try to slow it down a bit and make it a little smoother and deeper. With practice, it will improve quite quickly because you’ll notice how much better it feels!
But don’t get so caught up in your asana or breathing practices that you forget to do your yoga meditation. After all, the purpose of asanas and pranayama is to prepare you for meditation. And it is in meditation that you’ll reap the greatest rewards of yoga—inner peace and true happiness.
Banish tension with this feel-good stretch whenever you need a pick-me-up.
Watch it here: Wai Lana Yoga: Lying Stretch
1. Lie on your back and raise your arms over your head.
2. Inhale as you stretch the right side of your body, keeping the left side relaxed. Your right leg and buttock stretch down, while your right arm and the right side of your torso stretch up. Extend away from the waist in both directions. Hold for 10 to 20 seconds.
3. Exhale and relax, then repeat, stretching the left side of your body.
4. Now inhale and stretch your whole body. Stretch upward from the waist through your chest and arms, downward through your hips, legs, and toes.
5. Exhale and relax completely. Repeat the entire exercise once or twice.
Focus in the Pose…
Stretch through your fingers and point your toes. Lengthen the side of your body that you are stretching.
• Quick tension reliever
• Relieves fatigue
• Stretches the entire body
Wai Lana, host of the long-running PBS series Wai Lana Yoga, shares tips on how to stay healthy naturally.
Getting sick is never fun. It not only makes us feel tired, achy, and sore, but also keeps us from doing the things we love. I have always felt that good habits are the foundation to good health. And, over the years, I’ve noticed that by practicing a yoga diet and lifestyle, I have far more energy and get sick less often.
Here are a few simple, effective ways to help keep yourself and your loved ones from getting sick:
Go to bed early. One of the most important things you can do to curb illness is to get enough rest. Studies show that cells regenerate themselves while we sleep. And although burning the candle at both ends is sometimes unavoidable, it can also weaken the immune system, making you more vulnerable to the latest bug going around school or the office. A busy schedule, heavy exercise, and even changes in the weather can sap our energy. That’s why it’s important to take care of ourselves and monitor how much sleep we’re getting. At the end of a tiring day, I like to get to bed an hour or two earlier. I find that a little extra sleep helps me feel relaxed, recharged, and more prepared for the next day.
Choose snacks wisely. The food we eat is the fuel our bodies need to function properly—down to the very last cell. So if our meals and snacks are nourishing, vital, and health-giving, our immune systems will grow strong and less prone to harmful bacteria, viruses, and disease. So skip the junky snack aisles next time you go grocery shopping. Opt for foods that make your body feel good, like fresh fruits, wholegrain breads, nut butters, and veggies and dip (a vegetarian egg-free mayonnaise mixed with a little mustard, honey, lemon juice, and salt makes a tasty, all-purpose vegetable dip).
Supplement your diet. When you consider that many of the foods sold in grocery stores today are overprocessed, transported for long periods of time, and sprayed with chemicals and pesticides, it’s no surprise that many of them lack the vital nutrients we need to stay strong and resilient to infection. Drinking goji juice is one of my favorite ways to supplement my diet naturally with vitamins B, C, and E as well as beta-carotene. I often recommend drinking the juice from this ancient Chinese berry as a natural way to improve overall health, including eyesight and liver and kidney function. I am delighted to be able to add a pure goji juice to my line of supplements that contains no artificial flavors, colors, or sweeteners. Made from fresh berries—not reconstituted or powdered—goji juice tastes delicious and contains naturally-occurring essential fatty acids such as omega-6 and linoleic acid, which also help to regulate hormones. ickness