4 Best Pranayama to Reduce Migraine

Pranayama, which refers to the practice of controlled breathing techniques in yoga, can be helpful in reducing the frequency and intensity of migraine. Regular practice of pranayama can promote relaxation, relieve stress, and improve overall well-being, which may contribute to migraine management. Here are a few pranayama techniques that you can try to reduce migraine:

Nadi Shodhana (Alternate Nostril Breathing)

Nadi Shodhana, also known as alternate nostril breathing, is a breathing technique used in yoga and meditation practices to reduce migraine. It is a simple yet powerful technique that helps balance the energy in the body, calm the mind, and enhance overall well-being. The term “nadi” refers to the energy channels in the body, and “shodhana” means purification or cleansing.

Here’s how to practice Nadi Shodhana:

  1. Find a comfortable seated position, either on the floor or in a chair, with your spine upright and relaxed.
  2. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths to relax your body and mind.
  3. Bring your right hand up and fold the index and middle fingers toward your palm, leaving the thumb, ring finger, and pinky finger extended.
  4. Place your thumb on your right nostril to close it, and inhale slowly and deeply through your left nostril. Fill your lungs completely.
  5. After inhaling, close your left nostril with your ring finger, release your thumb from the right nostril, and exhale slowly through the right nostril.
  6. Keeping the left nostril closed, inhale through the right nostril. Fill your lungs.
  7. Close the right nostril with your thumb again, release the ring finger from the left nostril, and exhale through the left nostril.
  8. This completes one round. Continue the pattern, alternating the breath through each nostril for several rounds, starting with the left nostril.

Remember these key points while practicing Nadi Shodhana:

  • Breathe slowly and deeply, without straining or forcing the breath.
  • Use gentle and smooth transitions between nostrils, maintaining a steady and comfortable rhythm.
  • Keep your focus on your breath throughout the practice, observing the sensation of the breath as it flows in and out of each nostril.
  • Aim for a balanced duration of inhalation and exhalation, without creating any discomfort or tension.

To reduce migraine Nadi Shodhana is considered a balancing and purifying practice, as it helps synchronize the energy in the body, clears the mind, and promotes a sense of calmness and mental clarity. It can be practiced at any time of the day, but it’s often recommended to start with a few minutes and gradually increase the duration as you become more comfortable with the technique.

As with any new practice, if you have any specific medical conditions or concerns, it’s always a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional before starting Nadi Shodhana or any other breathing exercises to reduce migraine.

Sheetali Pranayama (Cooling Breath)

Sheetali Pranayama, also known as Cooling Breath, is a breathing technique in yoga that is specifically designed to cool down the body and calm the mind to reduce migraine. The word “Sheetali” comes from the Sanskrit word “Sheetal,” which means “cooling” or “soothing,” and “Pranayama” refers to the practice of controlling the breath and life force energy.

Here’s how to practice Sheetali Pranayama:

  1. Find a comfortable seated position, either on the floor or in a chair, with your spine upright and relaxed.
  2. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths to settle into the present moment.
  3. Curl the sides of your tongue into a tube shape, making it into a “U” or “O” shape. If you cannot curl your tongue, you can simply press your tongue against your upper palate.
  4. Inhale slowly and deeply through your curled tongue or pressed tongue, feeling the cool air enter your mouth and throat. Imagine drawing the coolness into your body.
  5. After inhaling, close your mouth and exhale slowly and completely through your nose, feeling the warmth leaving your body.
  6. Continue this pattern of inhaling through the mouth and exhaling through the nose for several rounds.
  7. Take your time and find a comfortable pace that allows you to fully experience the coolness during inhalation and the warmth during exhalation.
  8. After practicing for a few minutes, release the tongue and return to normal breathing. Take a moment to observe the effects of the practice.

Key points to remember while practicing Sheetali Pranayama:

  • If you feel any discomfort or strain in your throat or tongue, modify the practice by taking normal breaths through your nose and focusing on the cooling sensation as you inhale.
  • Practice Sheetali Pranayama on an empty stomach, preferably in a cool and quiet environment.
  • It’s generally recommended to practice Sheetali Pranayama in the morning or evening for its calming and cooling effects.

Benefits of Sheetali Pranayama include:

  • Cooling down the body temperature and reducing excessive heat or Pitta energy in the body.
  • Calming the mind, reducing stress, and promoting relaxation.
  • Enhancing the body’s natural cooling mechanisms and providing relief from hot weather or hot flashes.
  • Balancing the energy channels in the body and promoting a sense of balance and harmony.

As with any breathing practice, it’s important to listen to your body and practice within your comfort zone. If you have any specific medical conditions or concerns, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional or an experienced yoga teacher before practicing Sheetali Pranayama or any other pranayama techniques to reduce migraine.

Bhramari Pranayama (Bee Breath)

Bhramari Pranayama, also known as Bee Breath, is a breathing technique in yoga that involves creating a humming sound during exhalation. The term “Bhramari” comes from the Sanskrit word for “bee,” and the practice is named after the humming sound that resembles the buzzing of a bee. This pranayama technique is known for its calming and soothing effects on the mind and body to reduce migraine.

Here’s how to practice Bhramari Pranayama:

  1. Find a comfortable seated position, either on the floor or in a chair, with your spine upright and relaxed.
  2. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths to center yourself.
  3. Place your thumbs gently on your ear cartilage, just above the ear openings.
  4. Rest your index fingers on your forehead, lightly pressing the inner corners of your eyebrows.
  5. With your remaining three fingers, gently close your eyes, using them to cover your eyelids.
  6. Take a deep breath in through your nose, filling your lungs completely.
  7. As you exhale, gently press your thumbs against your ears to partially close off the ear openings. This will create a subtle sound barrier and enhance the humming sound.
  8. While exhaling, make a low-pitched humming sound, similar to the buzzing of a bee. Allow the sound to resonate in your head and throughout your body. Feel the vibration and the soothing effect of the sound.
  9. Continue exhaling and humming for as long as comfortable, maintaining a smooth and steady rhythm.
  10. After completing a few rounds of Bhramari Pranayama, release your hands and take a few moments to observe the effects of the practice.

Key points to remember while practicing Bhramari Pranayama:

  • Breathe naturally and comfortably throughout the practice. Focus on the sound and sensation of the humming rather than forcing the breath.
  • The sound should be gentle, smooth, and produced from the back of the throat. Avoid straining or creating tension in your throat or vocal cords.
  • You can experiment with different pitches and volumes of the humming sound to find what feels most soothing to you.

Benefits of Bhramari Pranayama include:

  • Calming the mind, reducing anxiety, and promoting relaxation.
  • Relieving stress and tension.
  • Stimulating the vagus nerve, which helps activate the body’s relaxation response.
  • Enhancing focus and concentration.
  • Improving sleep quality.

To reduce migraine, bhramari Pranayama can be practiced at any time of the day, but it’s particularly beneficial during times of stress, before meditation, or before sleep to promote a sense of calmness and tranquility.

As with any breathing practice, if you have any specific medical conditions or concerns, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional or an experienced yoga teacher before practicing Bhramari Pranayama or any other pranayama techniques to reduce migraine.

Kapalabhati Pranayama (Skull Shining Breath)

Kapalabhati Pranayama, also known as Skull Shining Breath, is a powerful breathing technique in yoga that involves forceful exhalations followed by passive inhalations. The term “Kapalabhati” is derived from the Sanskrit words “kapala,” which means “skull,” and “bhati,” which means “shining” or “illuminating.” This pranayama technique is known for its invigorating and cleansing effects on the body and mind to reduce migraine.

Here’s how to practice Kapalabhati Pranayama:

  1. Find a comfortable seated position, either on the floor or in a chair, with your spine upright and relaxed.
  2. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths to center yourself.
  3. Place your palms on your knees, with your hands in a comfortable and relaxed position.
  4. Take a deep breath in through your nose, filling your lungs completely.
  5. Begin the exhalation by forcefully contracting your lower belly and quickly expelling the breath out through your nose. The exhalation should be sharp and active, while the inhalation should be passive and relaxed.
  6. As you exhale, imagine that you are forcefully expelling stagnant energy and impurities from your body.
  7. Let the inhalation occur naturally and effortlessly as your lower belly relaxes. There should be no effort in the inhalation; it should simply happen on its own.
  8. Continue this rapid, forceful exhalation followed by passive inhalation for several rounds. Start with a slower pace and gradually increase the speed, but always stay within your comfort zone.
  9. After completing a few rounds of Kapalabhati Pranayama, release the breath and take a few moments to observe the effects of the practice.

Key points to remember while practicing Kapalabhati Pranayama:

  • Keep your inhalation passive and relaxed. Focus your attention on the forceful exhalation, while allowing the inhalation to occur naturally.
  • Maintain a steady rhythm throughout the practice, keeping the exhalation and inhalation balanced.
  • The emphasis should be on the exhalation, which should be quick, powerful, and generated from the contraction of the lower belly.
  • It’s important to practice Kapalabhati Pranayama on an empty stomach, preferably in the morning or several hours after a meal.

Benefits of Kapalabhati Pranayama include:

  • Cleansing the respiratory system and improving lung capacity.
  • Energizing the body and mind.
  • Stimulating digestion and metabolism.
  • Increasing mental clarity and focus.
  • Releasing stress and tension.

To reduce migraine, kapalabhati Pranayama is a dynamic and energizing practice, but it may not be suitable for everyone. If you have any specific medical conditions or concerns, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional or an experienced yoga teacher before practicing Kapalabhati Pranayama or any other pranayama techniques. Additionally, it’s important to practice with awareness and listen to your body, making any necessary modifications to ensure comfort and safety during the practice to reduce migraine.

There are some other yoga asanas to live stress free and reduce your migraine

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