Yoga for Migraines: The Science Behind How Yoga Helps Ease Migraine Pain




Is there anything more debilitating than the sudden onset of a migraine headache? Definitely. But it doesn’t feel like it when you get one!

Sensitivity to light and sound, dizziness, throbbing, nausea, excruciating pain, and sometimes even vomiting. You may even hear that classic “whooshing” in your ears. Many people simply can not function with a migraine headache. They are unlike any other headache you have ever experienced.

Migraine headaches can be caused by any number of factors, but most people who suffer with them are forced to control their symptoms with prescribed medications that are meant for other conditions. Why? Because, after years and years of being studied, researchers continue to find it hard to pinpoint exactly what causes most types of migraines.

This leaves migraine sufferers filling their body with drugs that have loads of side effects and may not even be effective at treating the debilitating pain of a migraine headache.

While we never advise you to go against the advice of your doctor, we know for a fact that yoga for migraines is a healthy, holistic intervention for migraine pain! 

Yoga for migraines can be used in conjunction with your doctor’s medical treatment, but we know that yoga cures migraine pain in many cases.

Here at MyYogaTeacher, we have yoga instructors who teach yoga classes for migraine sufferers! Our experienced, expert yoga teachers from India are one of the main reasons our members flock to us. 

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Read on to learn about the science behind how yoga cures migraine pain!

Exactly how does yoga treat migraine pain?

Because migraine pain is disabling and usually requires some form of long-term treatment or care, migraine sufferers spend an extraordinary amount of time and money on making them go away.

Studies show that long-term yoga therapy not only reduces or eliminates the pain itself but also reduces the frequency of migraines as well! This is a big deal for migraine sufferers! Those same studies identified how yoga therapy for migraines is an effective treatment.

Here are several ways yoga for migraines specifically works to eliminate or reduce migraine suffering:

  1. Yoga stimulates the vagus nerve, a nerve running down your brainstem, into your facial muscles, wrapping around the organs in your chest and heart, and reaching down into your intestines. Vagus nerve stimulation is shown to reduce and improve migraines. 
  2. Yoga calms the autonomic nervous system by reducing stress, anxiety, blood pressure, and muscle tension, all of which are well-known triggers for migraine sufferers. Yoga for migraines allows the autonomic nervous system to calm down and recover.
  3. Studies show that regular exercise can reduce or eliminate migraines. Yoga is a gentle form of exercise that addresses whole body health and proactively helps migraine patients end the cycle of migraine headaches.

While researchers aren’t exactly sure how yoga does these things for our bodies, they know that it does!


Is there a connection between migraine triggers and the benefits of yoga?

While doctors and researchers aren’t always sure of the reasons people have migraines, there are certainly migraine sufferers who can identify triggers that may cause one.

Some of the most common triggers are:

  • Stress - Stress causes tension in the muscles, including the ones around your face, neck, jaw, and in your back. Tension migraines are intense but can often be relieved with over the counter medications. A yoga practice helps tension migraine sufferers by teaching them how to release the tension in their muscles and relax through breath work.
  • Exertion - Sometimes a migraine may be triggered by heavy physical activity, particularly in environments that are hot. Working out in the heat also raises your blood pressure, constricting the circulation of blood to the brain. Yoga is a gentle, yet effective exercise that migraine sufferers can safely do to build strength, flexibility, and condition your heart, without triggering a migraine.

  • Dehydration - Many people aren’t aware of when they’re dehydrated. If you feel thirsty, and your mouth is dry, your body is already dehydrated. Lack of hydration is often a trigger for a migraine headache. A consistent yoga practice helps migraine sufferers develop a sense of self-awareness so they notice more about what is happening with their body and can address it quickly, before a migraine starts to form.

There are other noted migraine triggers as well, such as changes in barometric pressure, eating certain foods, loud music, and even bright lighting. Yoga for migraine sufferers helps alleviate migraine headaches no matter what the trigger may have been or be!

What are some yoga poses for migraine sufferers?

While a consistent yoga practice is key to keeping migraine pain at bay, we understand that not everyone is ready for or wanting a regular practice. They just want to get rid of their migraines holistically.

For those of you who need relief fast, we’ve compiled a short list of yoga poses you can do to relieve your migraine headache symptoms. And because the best yoga poses for migraines are ones that are the ones everyone can do, we’ve made sure the ones we include are simple enough that everyone can do them!

Child’s pose

Child’s pose relieves tension in your neck and back and stretches your spine and upper body, all of which help with migraine pain. By resting your forehead on the floor or a block you’re also activating pressure points that can alleviate headaches. Stay here as long as you feel comfortable and utilize deep breathing to help you relax.


Cat and Cow

This pose not only releases tension in your back and neck, it increases circulation in your body, pumping freshly oxygenated blood to your head. This yoga pose also makes it easy to do some yogic breathing, which helps relieve pain.


Standing forward bend

Standing forward bend helps with various types of pain, including migraine pain. Also known as “ragdoll pose,” it stretches out your spine, back and neck muscles and promotes better circulation to your brain. Be sure to hang here for at least 5-10 breaths for maximum benefits.


Legs up a wall

An incredibly restorative pose, legs up a wall not only brings more blood flow to the brain, it is just relaxing. You may want to add a pillow under your head or a bolster under your hips for a more intense stretch, which will release tension in muscles that contribute to migraine pain.


If you find these poses helpful, we’d love to have you join us at MyYogaTeacher for more yoga instruction that will ease your migraine suffering without the use of prescription or over-the-counter medications!

Not only that, but you don’t even have to leave your house to participate in a consistent yoga practice. And when you’re more relaxed and self-aware, you’re likely to experience fewer migraines.

MyYogaTeacher offers 1:1 classes with authentic yoga instructors from the birthplace of yoga, India! And if you haven’t experienced virtual private yoga classes yet, MyYogaTeacher makes 1:1 classes affordable and accessible! PLUS, with your membership, you get:

  • Radiance! More energy, peace of mind, and better health & fitness

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  • Making new like-minded friends from around the world

Grab your 2-week free trial and check out your membership options here!

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