Get Rid of Stress, Anxiety, or Tension

cat-cowHeadaches are so often caused by stress, anxiety, or tension.  Yoga is an excellent tool to help you relax and relieve tension and anxiety.  For starters, allow yourself some time for deep breathing with full and complete breaths.  Then bring your focus to the present.

This is how we begin a typical yoga class:  we start by breathing deeply and bringing the focus inward and to the present.  DO try this at home:  Let go of all thoughts and allow yourself to truly experience now and this moment.  A saying I particularly like is:

If you are depressed, you are living in the past.

If you are anxious, you are living in the future.

If you are at peace, you are living in the present.

Once you are focusing on now, move into these poses that will be helpful in relieving headache pain:

Cat and Cow can be performed on the floor in a table top (all fours) position, dropping the tailbone and rounding the spine on the exhale, then lifting the tailbone and dropping the belly with an inhale.  This can also be performed sitting in a chair.  Perform this 5-10 times, moving slowly and deliberately, spreading the disks in your spine to offset compression.

Child’s Pose from all fours on the floor, knees wide and toes touching, sit back on your heels, then extend your arms forward.  Bring your forehead to the floor.  Hold this pose as long as you can.  We hold it for 5 minutes or more in Restorative Yoga, to get the full benefit of relaxation and stress reduction.

Legs up the Wall – Sit very close to the wall, with your hips right against it.  With one smooth move, bring your legs up as you lower your back to the floor or mat.  Extend your legs straight up the wall, relax your arms at your sides with the palms up.  If needed, you can use a blanket or support under your hips.  This wonderful inversion reverses the effects of gravity, allowing you to relieve stress and tension.  Hold 3-5 minutes or longer.

Savasana (Corpse) – extend legs long and relaxed, let arms rest at your sides, palms up.  Relax your entire body.  Add support as needed, a blanket or bolster under the knees, or support under the head.  Be sure to totally relax your jaw, face, and mouth.  Relax in this position for 5-10 minutes.

Slowly come up to a seated position and allow yourself to gently come back.

Enjoy the peace.