Headaches: some yoga solutions

Headaches often accompany stress.  Releasing some tension from your body through some simple yoga poses may help relieve some of your pain.  Here are some very simple, beginner friendly poses which you can try. Try them for just a couple of minutes at the end of your work day 3 times a week. They will help get you moving a little, make you focus on something that is good for your body, and help you to wind down.

Cat Pose

Begin simply with your hands and knees on the floor in a tabletop position.  Exhale and round your spine up.  Inhale and return to the neutral tabletop.  Do this about 5 to 8 times using your breath to lead your movement.  How is this helping you?  This helps to elongate your spine and separate your disks which can get compressed when you sit for long periods of time.  Compression can affect the nerves which may be giving you headaches.

Eagle arms

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Eagle Arms

This is especially good for relieving tension headaches.  You can do this either standing or sitting cross legged.  This really releases shoulder tension.  Hold the pose for 5 to 8 breaths with left arm under right and then switch to right arm under left.

Child’s Pose

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Child’s Pose

This is the fundamental resting pose of yoga.  As you drop your shoulders and release tension your breath is directed towards your back.  This helps push oxygen up to your neck and shoulders.

Legs up the Wall Pose

So easy, yet so powerful.  Lie down on the floor near a wall and rest your legs up the wall.  This allows the pooled blood in your legs to circulate easily helping reduce fatigue and anxiety.  Stay here for as long as you like breathing deeply and fully.

Corpse Pose

This is usually the final pose of yoga practice.  This is the time to slow down your breathing, quiet your mind, and relax your whole body.

Corpse Pose
Corpse Pose

 

All these poses, as well as a few more, can be viewed  in this article from The Huffington Post: 10 of the Best Yoga Poses for Headaches.

To your health

Buying a yoga mat

images4IY14NLYIf you are a yoga beginner perhaps you’ve been to a yoga class at a studio or gym and used one of their mats.  You probably wished you had your own because who knows how clean those mats are.  That was me so I dashed out to a sports store before my next class and bought the cheapest blue mat I could find.  The mat was kind of slimy and had no traction.  Not useful for yoga – yet it was marketed as a yoga mat!  Next I ordered another one online.  It was better but still not that great.  Finally, at a yoga fund raiser I just observed what other yogis were using and bought another one – my final yoga mat – which I am happy with.  I think many beginners go through this.  You agree that this is a waste of time and money I’m sure.  I mean, the yoga mat is such a key element in yoga.  The wrong one could turn someone off of yoga.  The right mat is so important so here are a few tips to consider.

Environment and health – the materials that your mat are made of are important.  You do not want a mat which emits toxic smells as you practice something that is so good for your body.  In the same token, yogis are as a group, environmentally friendly.  Look for mats which are free of PVC.  Most cheap mats are made with this.  Look for mats made of natural materials.  Ones made of natural rubber are long lasting, made of a sustainable substance, and offer good traction and cushioning.  Other natural materials include cork and cotton.  These sound very natural but cork mats are not particularly long lasting.  Cotton mats offer little traction.

Length – if you are tall you will probably want to buy a longer mat.

Some trusted mat brands to consider – tried and true by yogis around the world.

Manduka  – I bought their Black Mat PRO thick mat.  It is great to practice on.  Good grip; good amount of cushion.  I am short so I bought the 71″ length.  There is an 85″ one available.  The mat weighs about 7lbs so a little heavy.  It costs about $100 but it is well worth it.  It is also guaranteed for life.  Additionally it is 100% latex free.  And manufacturing releases no emissions; environmentally responsible.

Prana – this company also sells sustainable merchandise. Their mats are priced between $30 and $90.  Their Nomad travel mat is a great option if you travel extensively.  There is a little less cushion though so bear that in mind for kneeling poses.  These mats are all made of natural materials.

Jade Yoga –  this company is committed to manufacturing the best, earth friendly, and quality yoga mats in the world.  They offer a variety of mats that are priced between $55 and $120.  They also offer an extra wide (28″) mat.

To your health.

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