With the ability to help relieve tension, boost circulation, and calm the mind, Yoga can be a powerful natural remedy for headaches, without having to reach for the pill bottle. Most headaches arise from tension, or dehydration. And a lot of times, in order to relieve that tension and feel better, all that is needed is to drink some water, improve your blood circulation and increase your oxygen intake.
A Wide Leg Standing Forward Fold will help. Folding the body forward, and allowing the blood to flow to your head will calm your brain, and relieve the pain. It also tones the abdominal organs and strengthens and stretches the inner and back legs and the spine, which helps to relieve tension. If your hands don't come all the way to the floor, no worries, start by resting your arms on a chair. (See instructions below)
Wide Leg Forward Instructions:
Note: It can be helpful if you have someone to read these instructions to you as you go. If not, just take it slowly to start with, and give yourself time to check in with the instructions.
1. Start by standing with your feet together and then step them apart, anywhere from 3 to 4 1/2 feet (depending on your height: taller people should step wider).
2. Rest your hands on your hips. And make sure your inner feet are parallel to each other (i.e. that your toes are not pointing inward) in order to protect your knees. If it feels better to have a gentle bend in your knees here, then do that.
3. Inhale and lift your chest. As you exhale, lean forward from the hip joints, keeping your feet planted into the floor.
4. As your torso approaches parallel to the floor, press your fingertips onto the floor directly below your shoulders so your arms are parallel to one another.
5. Extend your elbows fully so your arms are straight. (If you cannot reach the floor with your fingertips, inhale, and slowly come back up. Now find yourself some books, or cushions to place on the floor to make the distance shorter for your fingertips to reach. (You will get there eventually, with more practice, but for now, just accept that your hamstrings may be tight, and you are gradually going to loosen them.)
6. Take an inhale here, and as you exhale, bend your elbows, lowering your torso and head into a forward bend. Make sure as you move down that you keep your front torso as long as possible. (i.e. don’t scrunch up the chest shoulders and neck – keep them long)
7. You don’t want to hold your head up here, or you will put pressure on your neck. So relax your head and neck, by letting the head fall, and if your eyes are open, look through your legs. If possible, rest the crown of your head on the floor. But please note, this will only happen for people with a lot of flexibility in their hamstrings, so don’t push yourself.
8. Take a few breaths in this stretch. Inhale and exhale at least five times, and imagine the oxygen flowing into your lungs and circulating through your body. Feel the tension begin to fall away with each breath, and allow your body to relax into the stretch that feels good for you.
9. Now think about widening the shoulder blades across your back and check in with how your shoulders feel. If you are drawing them up toward your ears and they feel tight, take an inhale and relax them down.
10. As you continue to breathe you will find your body relaxing even more. See if you can press your palms against the floor (or books or cushions). And be sure to keep your arms parallel to each other.
11. Stay in the pose anywhere from 30 seconds to 1 minute. Breathing deeply and consciously all the time. To come out of the stretch, inhale, and move your hands one at a time to your hips. Press your feet into the floor and raise your torso up on the exhale.
12. Walk your feet back together and stand tall while you take a few breaths.
Cautions to remember:
If you have lower-back problems, or you are a complete beginner and cannot bring your hands to the floor, use a chair to support your forearms.
If you have high or low blood pressure, keep your eyes open when you bend forward.
Have yourself a great day.