Inspired living

Headache? These 3 yoga tips will help soothe the pain

Young woman with headache

Credit: iStock

No-one likes a headache. That dense, heavy, discomfort which seems to saturate the entire skull and slam the brakes on our everyday activities. Headaches can be sudden or creep up slowly and have us searching for quick relief.

Headaches make their presence felt differently from person to person. Some describe the pain as throbbing or stabbing, others feel a steady, dull ache, heat or heaviness. The distress of a headache can hit when various structures of the head, such as skin, muscles, nerves, arteries and sinuses are irritated or inflamed. The sensation of pain can also be ‘referred’, which means that pain occurring in one area can transmit the feeling of pain to an area nearby. An example is the referred pain of a headache occurring from a sore neck.

Mental tensions such as overthinking, worrying, and stress can also cause headache. Other common causes include eye-strain, dehydration and poor posture.

Yoga’s wonderful ability to help unravel, soften and soothe both muscular and mental tensions make it a valuable consideration to conquer headache.

Yoga’s wonderful ability to help unravel, soften and soothe both muscular and mental tensions make it a valuable consideration to conquer headache. A little gentle movement through yoga promotes circulation – this circulation boost can offer reduced pain and less stress. Lowering the head also promotes the flow of oxygen and blood to the brain to assist healing and ouch-relief. Simply taking time out for a yoga pose or two can shift awareness from the head to the rest of the physical body, providing a welcome break from mental activity.

Here are 3 yoga-inspired ‘headache helpers’ to try

  1. The ‘Sighing Shoulder Shrug’: This combines a circulation boosting should and neck squeeze with some deep, mindful breaths and a little audible ‘sigh’ to soften tensions around the throat, neck and shoulders.
    Try it: Take a breath in as you draw the shoulders up toward the ears. Breathe out through the mouth with an ‘aahhh’ sound as you drop the shoulders down. Try 3-10 rounds, then check  how you feel.
  2. The ‘Head Rester’: This position yields a light pressure across the whole forehead, serving to massage and soothe the head and give the neck muscles a break.
    Try it:
     Sit cross-legged on the floor (use a cushion if needed) in front of a chair, or side of the bed. Place a bolster, cushion or a firm, folded blanket on the seat of the chair, or edge of the bed. Fold forward, from the hips, until your forehead rests on your support.  Remember to relax the face and jawline. Stay 5+ minutes.
  3. Supported Savasana: Surrender body and mind to calming rest and deep healing while feeling completely supported.
    Try it: Lie down on your yoga mat, bed or floor. Be gentle with yourself by adding rolled blankets under the ankles and knees. Place an eye-pillow or wash cloth over the eyes. (Particularly beneficial if the headache stems from eye-strain) Rest the head comfortably on a cushion or folded blanket. Make any adjustments so that you are as comfortable as possible. Cover up, if needed to stay warm. Surrender the weight of the body into the floor. Breathe easily. Stay for 10+ minutes.

Here’s hoping your next headache is a brief one. Do remember though, if your headache lingers for longer than you’d expect, seek the guidance of your healthcare practitioner.



Bronni Page is nuts about living a life full of fun, adventure and connection. She’s quite the "word nerd" and uses this super-power as a health and wellness writer, crafting engaging articles to inspire everyday people be their healthiest, most wonderful selves.

She’s also a qualified yoga instructor, specialising in restorative yoga (the super-relaxing, snoozy, cruisy style).

When she’s not writing for clients or embarrassing her three kids with hilarious mum jokes, you’ll find Bronni searching out the best almond cappuccino in her hometown of Newcastle, Australia.