Migraine and yoga: Stress relief for the body and the brain

Yoga is an ancient type of exercise combining poses and breathing exercises, with evidence buildings suggesting it can help manage migraine.
woman practicing yoga

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Over the past decade, yoga has soared in popularity. Its proponents attest to its calming benefits, claiming it helps to relieve both physical tension and mental stress. The benefits of yoga all sound very promising when it comes to managing the symptoms of a migraine attack. Indeed, many sufferers have began practising this special type of exercise for both physical and psychological gain.

A recent study found that practising yoga alongside more conventional migraine treatments is an effective way of managing the condition. Participants who combined yoga with their usual medications reported a reduction in the frequency with which they took their medication, as well as fewer – and less intense – headaches.

How may practising yoga help to manage migraine?

Yoga can be a really beneficial tool to incorporate into your daily routine. One study found that it may even be able to help migraine sufferers have a better quality of life. The exact explanation as to how yoga can help manage a migraine attack is unknown. Many people, however, link the calming breathing exercises performed during the poses with stress relief. With stress commonly noted as a trigger of migraine attacks, any activities that help the body and the mind relax and unwind are likely to be a positive addition to a migraine management plan.

What does yoga involve?

Yoga originated in ancient India and is a type of exercise that has been enjoyed by many for hundreds and thousands of years. Unlike the type of exercise that may come to mind when you think about running or playing tennis, however, yoga is not just physical. It rather combines bodily movements with a range of spiritual and mental practises. Of course, with more experience, yoga can involve some more complex movements and positions. But because yoga is slow and gentle, almost anyone can give it a go regardless of age and fitness levels. A few examples of some migraine-friendly beginner poses to give a try include:

Downward facing dog



American Migraine Foundation

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