Migraine is pain on one side of the head and can be overwhelming as it has no cause, defined signs and cure listed out. The most common options that people go for is taking medicines or two to get rid of this pain. One cannot focus and loses the strength and ability to do anything when this excruciating pain attacks. How beautiful will it be if some simple breathing techniques will help get rid of this pain.

Pranayamas for Migraine

Pranayama is the practice of controlled breathing and is the fourth limb of Ashtanga Yoga. Pranayamas are considered most effective and powerful to prevent and get rid of migraine. There are many breathing techniques which help in preventing and getting rid of migraine.

Many researchers have found out the frequency and intensity of the pain associated with migraine is reduced when pranayamas are practiced regularly, and not just the pain, pranayamas help in reducing the stress and anxiety which are the precursors of migraine. This treatment, pranayamas, for migraine is way better than the western/allopathic treatment where one must eat many chemicals for temporary relief and the side effects of these medicines are so many to be listed let alone the physical and psychological damage they do the body.

Pranayamas or the Breathing Techniques To Get Rid of Migraine

Pranayamas or the Breathing Techniques To Get Rid of Migraine

Mentioned below are the pranayamas or the breathing techniques which help in the prevention and treatment of migraine:

Nadi Sodhana Pranayama or Alternate Nostril Breathing Technique to Get Rid of Migraine:

There are two ways of practicing Nadi Sodhana Pranayama or Alternate nostril breathing technique:

Nadi Sodhana Pranayama Without Kumbhaka

  • Sit in any comfortable meditation asana like Sukhasana, Padmasana or Siddha yoni asana.
  • Keep your head and spine straight.
  • Bring your hands to rest on the knees in either chin or jnana mudra.
  • Close the right nostril with the right thumb. Inhale slowly through the left nostril.
  • Keep inhaling as long as you can till you feel your lungs are filled with air.
  • Remove your thumb from your right nostril and use your middle finger to close your left nostril. When your finger is stable on the left nostril, exhale deeply from the right nostril.
  • Now, inhale deeply with the right nostril and remove thumb from right nostril and place the middle finger on left and exhale.
  • Repeat this process for 5 minutes.
  • And remain focused and concentrate on your breathing. This is most important while one is having a migraine as it helps in deviating the attention and also helps in reducing the stress and anxiety.
  • Keep your eyes closed while practicing Anulom vilom pranayama or alternate nostril breathing.

Nadi Sodhana Pranayama With Kumbhaka

  • Sit in any comfortable meditation asana like Sukhasana, Padmasana or Siddha yoni asana.
  • Keep your head and spine straight.
  • Bring your hands to rest on the knees in either chin or jnana mudra.
  • Close the right nostril with the right thumb.
  • Inhale slowly through the left nostril, inhale as long as you can till you feel your lungs are filled with air.
  • Remove your thumb from your right nostril and use your middle finger to close your left nostril. Now unlike mentioned above, hold your breath here for as long as you can. Holding the breath while practicing pranayama is called kumbhaka.
  • When you want to exhale after kumbhaka, place the middle finger on the left nostril and exhale deeply from the right nostril.
  • Now, inhale deeply with the right nostril and remove thumb from right nostril and place the middle finger on left and exhale.
  • Repeat this process for 5 minutes.
  • Make sure that you remain focused and concentrate on your breathing.
  • Keep your eyes closed the entire time while practicing Anulom vilom pranayama or alternate nostril breathing.
Benefits of Practicing Nadi Sodhana Pranayama or Alternate Nostril Breathing for Migraine:
  • It helps in balancing the mind, increases the power of concentration, and induces physical and mental relaxation quickly. The thinking process becomes very clear and precise with regular practice of this asana.
  • Helps to cure mental problems like Depression, Anxiety, and Tension which are considered precursors for Migraine.
  • Nadi Sodhana pranayama or Alternate nostril breathing is most beneficial for breathing related problems like (Bronchitis, Asthma) etc.
Precautions and Contraindication to be Taken While Practicing Nadi Sodhana Pranayama or Alternate Nostril Breathing:
  • People suffering from acute cardio vascular problems or blood pressure problems either high or low should avoid retention of breath or kumbhaka while practicing Nadi sodhana pranayama. They must practice the pranayama without kumbhaka.
  • It is important that your stomach is empty, and bowels are clean when you practice. And always keep a gap at least four to six hours between your yogasanas practice and meal.
  • Also, one must avoid practicing Nadi sodhana pranayama with kumbhaka or retention of breath when the temperature is too hot/warm as retention of breath can cause an increase the body temperature and should always be done in a cool climate.
  • Do not force the breath i.e. the inhalation or exhalation in any way and be careful not to speed up during exhalation when you feel shortage of breath. You should reduce the count whenever you feel discomfort or stop and lie down.
  • Do not over exert yourself while practicing this pose. Do not push yourself beyond the limits. Go only as far as your body allows.
  • When practiced optimally, Nadi sodhana pranayama has a calming effect on brain and heart, and it also helps in curing cardiovascular and nervous system disorders associated with stress.

Bhramari Pranayama or Humming Bee Breath to Get Rid of Migraine

Steps to Practice Bhramari Pranayama or Humming Bee Breath

  • Sit on the yoga mat in in a comfortable meditation asana. You can opt for Padmasana, Siddhayoni asana or Sukhasana/Easy pose.
  • Place the feet flat on the floor with the knees raised with the elbows resting on the knees.
  • While practicing the pranayama, the spinal cord should be erect, the head straight and the hands should be resting on the knees in chin or jnana mudra.
  • Close the eyes and relax. The whole body should be at ease. Stay in this pose for a few breaths.
  • While maintaining the posture, your teeth will remain slightly separated while the lips will be gently closed throughout the practice. Maintaining this allows the sound vibration produced while practicing Bhramari pranayama to be heard and felt more clearly in the brain.
  • Make sure that the jaws are relaxed while maintaining the posture.
  • Now, raise the arms sideways and bend the elbows and bring the hands to the ears.
  • Use the index or middle finger to plug both the ears.
  • Make sure that you plug your ears by pressing the flaps of your ears with the thumbs. Make sure that you do not insert your fingers inside your ear. Place the fingers on your head.
  • Close your eyes and concentrate on the eye center and keep inhaling and exhaling deeply.
  • Start inhaling deeply through the nose and exhale slowly and in a controlled manner while making a deep, long and steady humming sound.
  • The humming sound coming of throat should be smooth, and it should be produced during the entire time of exhalation.
  • Maintenance of proper breathing technique is essential while practicing pranayama as the right breathing makes a way to get rid of migraine.
  • Practice Bhramari pranayama for 15 minutes in day to prevent the occurrence or to treat migraine.

Benefits of Practicing Bhramari Pranayama or Humming Bee Breath for Migraine:

  • Bhramari pranayama helps in relieving stress, anxiety and cerebral tension which thereby helps in reducing the frequency and occurrence of migraine.
  • Regular practice of brahmari pranayama is also considered to relieve insomnia.
  • It speeds up the healing of body tissue and may be practiced by people suffering from acute and life-threatening disorders.
  • Bhramari pranayama helps in increasing concentration and memory of the practitioner.
  • It is also considered very beneficial for people suffering from Alzheimer's disease.
  • It is also considered very effective for post-delivery and menstrual migraines through higher serotonin release pre-menstruation.

Precautions and Contraindication To Be Taken While Practicing Bhramari Pranayama or Humming Bee Breath:

  • Bhramari pranayama should never be practiced while lying down or in a supine position.
  • People suffering from severe ear infections should also not practice this pranayama until the infection subsides or after consulting the physician.
  • People with severe heart diseases must practice under the guidance of a trained yoga expert or they must practice without breath retention.
  • People suffering from epilepsy should not practice this pranayama.
  • People with extremely high blood pressure should not practice this pranayama or must be practiced under the guidance of a trained yoga expert after consultation with a physician.
  • Do not strain yourself when performing kumbhaka or breath retention, one or two seconds is enough for beginners. The duration of kumbhaka practice may be increased gradually with the practice.
  • Pregnant female are also advised to practice this pranayama under the guidance of an expert.

Also Read:

Sheetal DeCaria MD

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

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Last Modified On: April 16, 2019

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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