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This yoga practice is great for anyone who suffers from tension or stress headaches. It also can benefit anyone who has sinus issues or maybe have just been a little bit spacey. Maybe you feel like you can’t continue down the path of pain. The mental overload of “too much to do” can create pressure in the base of the skull or through the forehead, along the eyebrows.
This will have the best results using some of the following products. One of the products is Tiger Balm, which you can purchase online or at Whole Foods. Or you can make your own elixir of essential oils. I use lavender and peppermint, with a carrier of either almond or grapeseed oil. We will also be using an eye mask and putting the essential oil on this. If you do not have an eye mask, or don’t want the scent there, a scarf to tie around your eyes will work just fine.
If you do not have these products available to you, or you are scent sensitive, you can still find relief in this practice. You will do the practice without these products and without the eye mask, using a scarf to cover your eyes instead. If you have never used these products before, or have sensitive skin, test the products on your wrists before placing it on your face and neck. If there is any irritation do not use.
In the second part of this series, we will be using yoga blocks. If you don’t already own some, go ahead and purchase yours now so you are prepared! Or you can use pillows in the place of the yoga blocks. There will also be a yoga bolster. If you don’t have a bolster you can use blankets instead.
Breathing Exercises to Relieve Stress Headaches
- Start in a comfortable seated position. If you are using any of the scented products, put some on your fingers. Then take your fingers to your temples, massaging for a few breaths.
- Take the fingers to the back of the neck and base of the head, massaging there for a few breaths.
- If you are using the scented products, very lightly tap some in between your eyebrows, at the 3rd eye.
- Place the eye mask or scarf up and over the eyes. Sit tall and roll the neck.
- Focus on your breathing, deepening your breaths. Keep the eyes closed. Take 10 deep and focused breaths.
- Eyes still closed, still focusing on steady, deep breathing, envision a release valve behind the eyelids.
- Continue to sit tall and focus on your breathing. Feel the stress melting away from the lavender, and the focus of relaxation from the mint if you’re using. All the while focusing on deep, even breathing. Hold for a few minutes (or moments, if that is all you have).
Yoga to Alleviate Stress Headaches and Tension
- If using, place the aromatherapy components on your fingers and massage into the temples and the base of the skull. Place the eye mask on your head, or the scarf nearby.
- Take your yoga blocks and place one so it is at full height and the other so it is on the second height.
- The lower block should be placed at your scapula, just above the bra line, when you lay down. The second block will support your head. Place the bolster or blankets under your knees. Cover your eyes with the mask or scarf.
- Stretch your arms out to the side and focus on breathing. Relax your face, your jaw, your eyes. Hold the pose for several breaths.
- Inhale deeply. Exhale. Quiet the mind. You should feel relaxed and as if you are floating. If you are not comfortable, make adjustments until you are. You cannot do this wrong. Adjustments may include:
- If you prefer lower blocks, place the first one on the broad side, and the other at the second height.
- Padding your lower back with a blanket.
- Add more rolled blankets or pillows under your knees to prop them up further.
- Take one of the blocks away. Or both of the blocks away.
- Once in a comfortable position, take hands to the lower stomach. Just breathe. Focus on relaxing your body parts one at a time, all the while never forgetting your breath. Hold for a minute or two.
- With your eyes still closed and covered, let your gaze go toward the tip of your nose to relax your optic nerve.
- Practice 3-part breaths. Watch the video to listen to the cues or inhale for 1/3. Pause. Inhale for 2/3. Hold. Inhale all the way to the top and stay. Then exhale all the air out, vocalizing as you do. Repeat for a total of 5 times.
- Continue with 1/3 breaths or return to a breathing pattern of your choice.
- Feel the back relaxing, your eyes very soft. Swallow to relax the throat.
- Stay here as long as you can, coming out slowly when you feel nice and relaxed.
>WATCH: 5-MINUTE YOGA FOR NECK, SHOULDERS AND BACK>READ: YOGA BREATHING EXERCISES TO FOCUS AND CREATE SPACE