Chin Up: Importance of Posture for Headaches

headaches Yoga

"Work on posture" is one of the most common recommendations that I receive from doctors referring their headache patients to me for yoga. Surprising? Probably not if you start thinking about the amount of time we spend in weird positions during the day - hunched over a computer, sticking a hip out to hold a baby, or carrying a purse that's too heavy on the same shoulder everyday - and how little time we spend intentionally focused on our posture. Each of these habits creates a variation in posture and can lead to health issues like headaches. So you might know you need proper posture, but do you know why it really matters or how to get there?

Why Care About Your Posture

Posture makes a huge difference in our lives, regardless of whether or not you suffer from headaches. Your body was designed to work optimally when properly aligned, but still functions with improper alignment. Its not like we fall over if our head is jutted forward for too long...not usually. However, our body starts realigning to cope with these new norms and that "coping" shows up in many different ways. The two main ones that I see most often are muscle pain and poor breathing.

Improper anatomical alignment of joints creates strain on supporting muscles and tendons to maintain the new improper alignment. For example, if you're shoulders are rolled in towards each other when you type, this causes the muscles in the chest to contract instead of being in a "neutral" position. Over time, sustained positions like this can lead to trigger points in the fascia, headaches, muscle tension, and many other unfortunate side effects.

Poor breathing can also develop from improper posture due to constriction of the ribs and diaphragm. Using the same example above of hunched over shoulders can cause less range of motion in the torso. This can cause you to experience shallow breathing and less oxygen being pumped throughout your body, which can be detrimental to your health and/or trigger headaches, especially migraines.

How Yoga Helps Posture

What can you do about it? A consistent yoga practice can help counteract poor posture and bring you back to a healthy balance in your body. With asana (yoga poses) and pranayama (yogic breath control), you'll start to build awareness of your posture/alignment, increase your breathing capacity, release tension in your body, stretch tight muscles, and build strength for postural support. Are these some benefits you want in your life? Keep reading to learn 3 poses that build strength and help maintain proper posture for your body.

Yoga Poses to Improve Posture

Is your head generally in front of your shoulders instead of stacked in line with your shoulders? This is the one for you.

Rolling Cobra
**Do not practice this pose if you have any neck, shoulder, and/or back injuries or issues.

  1. Lay face down with a neutral neck.
  2. Bending your elbows up to the ceiling, place your palms on the ground next to your ribs.
  3. Press your toes and pubic bone into the ground. Squeeze your inner thighs towards each other.
  4. Inhale, slowly reach your chest forward as you peel it off the ground. Exhale, lower.
  5. Repeat 5 times.

Tiffany Lord, cobra pose yoga for headaches

Do you have low back pain or feel like your abs could be more toned? Try this pose for core strength.

High/Low Boat
**Do not practice this pose if you have any neck, hip, and/or back injuries or issues.

  1. Sit with your knees bent and soles planted.
  2. Keep your chest lifted as you slowly draw your feet off the ground and bring your calves parallel to the mat.
  3. Extend your arms forward. This is high boat. Inhale.
  4. Exhale, engage your ab muscles and slowly start lowering your legs and back towards the ground to a hover 1-2 " above the mat. This is low boat. Hold for 5 counts.
  5. Inhale, rise back to high boat and hold for 5 counts.
  6. Repeat with slow intentional movement for 10-15 reps.

Tiffany Lord, boat pose yoga for headaches

Try to hold yourself up straight but your back feels tired after only a couple of minutes? Give this one a whirl.

Locust with Lat Pull
**Do not practice this pose if you have any neck, shoulder, and/or back injuries or issues.

  1. Lay face down with a neutral neck.
  2. Feet on the mat, hip-width distance apart. Arms on the mat, extended over head with palms down.
  3. Inhale, lift both your upper and lower body off the ground.
  4. Exhale, bend your elbows drawing them towards your ribs and squeeze your shoulder blades together (lat pull).
  5. Inhale, extend your arms back overhead hovering above the ground.
  6. Exhale, slowly lower your upper and lower body to the ground.
  7. Repeat 5-10 times.

Tiffany Lord locust yoga for headaches

 

 

Tiffany Lord yoga for headaches guruHey! I'm Tiffany Lord, Yoga for Headaches guru and Founder of Love & Asana. My passion is helping people just like you learn easy ways to integrate yoga into your daily life to manage headaches and stress. Want help adding yoga to your lifestyle? Schedule a private consultation and let's create a special plan just for you!

 

 

 

 

 






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