What is a migraine? Why migraine happens. Who gets migraines? Treating migraines.

An Ancient Remedy

The Triggers are Many and Varied

It is well known that migraine headaches can be triggered by a very wide variety of catalysts. Allergic reactions to many different foods, hormonal imbalances, stress and depression may all figure into the equation when it comes to migraines.

Migraines are recurrent headaches which are, generally, severely painful and can send their victims to bed for hours or days with nausea and a disabling, throbbing pain, often on one side of the head. While genetics can play a big part in the occurrence of migraine headaches, it is also well documented that stress is a prime factor as stress hormones are released into the body and the brain reacts to them.

The Ancient Ways Still Work

Recent research indicates that an ancient meditative discipline may have a profound effect upon the symptoms of migraine headaches and can, with dedication, help to curb and control the negative effects of migraines in people who adhere to the practice. The discipline is yoga - a combination of breathing, exercises and meditation that has been part of Eastern philosophy, health and religion for centuries.

A study reported in the journal, Headache, and completed in India, found that among a group of 72 adults suffering from migraines, those who took part in consistent yoga therapy experienced a reduced number of headaches and the severity of the headaches began to diminish over time. The pain relief brought along with it considerable improvement in symptoms of anxiety and depression as well. Gentle yoga postures and breathing techniques are believed to have a calming effect on the nervous system and studies suggest that yoga can help alleviate various forms of pain - from chronic back pain to arthritic pain.

What Is Yoga?

A 5,000 year old Hindu discipline, yoga aims at achieving a state of perfect spiritual insight and tranquility. The word yoga means "to join" or "to bring together" and it focuses on bringing body, mind and spirit together into one harmonious experience. In the West, we understand yoga to be a form of exercise which may include meditation.

How the Aspects of Yoga Help with Pain

The poses, or exercises, of yoga basically strengthen and stretch the muscles of the body, improving flexibility. Those who suffer from migraines are often very tense, especially in the neck, upper back and shoulders - so yoga exercises can do wonders for helping people move their shoulders out of their ears and back to where they belong, relaxing them and thus releasing muscular tension which can create headaches.

Breathing techniques are also excellent for relaxation and the control of pain. By learning how to breathe in such a way as to enhance relaxation and restore health, pain is relieved and balance is restored. It is also a good way to control anxiety, which is often a precursor to headaches.

If it is possible to add the component of meditation, a person may be able to move into a place where they can calm themselves and help their body to release unnecessary stressors which may trigger a migraine.

There are many studios and practitioners of yoga who are able to properly instruct individuals on the application and practice of yoga as a means of healing and relief from pain caused by migraine headaches.