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Study Finds Yoga An Effective Cure For Migraine Headaches

Study Finds Yoga An Effective Cure For Migraine Headaches

If you suffer from severe headaches accompanied by disturbances in vision, nausea and vomiting, tingling in your extremities, pain in your temples, or sensitivity to light, you might be experiencing migraine headaches. These severe symptoms can be debilitating and negatively affect your quality of life.

The Migraine Research Foundation indicates that migraine headaches are common. In fact, approximately 18% of American women and 6% of men suffer from migraine headaches. Thus, if you suffer from migraines, you won’t be surprised that they are the 8th most disabling illness in the world.

According to researchers, there is hope for migraine sufferers. This study published in the International Journal of Yoga, indicates that when yoga is combined with conventional care, migraine headaches can be reduced in intensity and frequency. In this study, patients practiced yoga 5 days a week for 6 weeks and they kept a yoga diary. The practice included loosening and breathing exercises, postures done with awareness and Shavasana (corpse pose).

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If you’re a migraine headache sufferer, you will discover that the findings below are astonishing and could improve your quality of life.

Yoga Improves Quality of Life of Migraine Sufferers

Doctors measure the impact of migraine headaches on their patients’ lives by using the Headache Impact Test (HIT). It assesses the level of disability in a patient’s life, from little or no impact to severe or disabling impact. In the study mentioned above, the patients had a HIT score of more than 60. Consider that 78 is the highest number possible; therefore, migraine headaches were severely impacting their lives. The study concluded that those who combined yoga with conventional care had significantly lowered HIT scores. Thus, their quality of life was significantly improved due to combining a yoga practice with conventional migraine headache therapies.

Yoga Increases Vagal Tone in Migraine Headache Patients

The study also found that yoga, which was combined with conventional care, resulted in reduction in sympathetic tone as well as increased vagal tone. It is hypothesized that those with improved vagal tone have fewer and less severe migraine headaches. Many researchers theorize that yoga improves vagal tone by regulating the nervous system. Vagal tone refers to the activity of our vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is the longest nerve in our bodies, and it controls many functions, but particularly heart rate. For example, those who have strong vagal tone, such as athletes, have a slower resting heart rate.

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Yoga Reduces Stress in Migraine Headache Patients

In addition, the study indicates that slow, mindful exercises such as yoga are beneficial to migraine sufferers due to the stress reduction that this type of exercise provides. Stress can play a big part in triggering episodes of both migraine headaches and tension headaches. Numerous research studies indicate that yoga reduces stress and anxiety and increases feelings of well being. In fact, this study which examined the effects of exercise on stress, found that those who practiced yoga were much less anxious, tense, depressed, angry and fatigued.

How Do You Get Started with Yoga?

Before beginning a new exercise program, you should always consult a doctor. After you’ve been given clearance to begin, you might find that yoga can be confusing because of the many different styles and levels.

If your goal is to reduce migraine headaches and you’re a beginner, look for classes such as stress-reduction yoga, integrative yoga therapy, restorative yoga, gentle yoga, Hatha or Kundalini. There are many other suitable styles as well. It’s best to discuss your goals with a yogi at your chosen studio or health center of choice.

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You can find many gentle yoga classes at local health clubs, hospitals and yoga studios. And, some instructors will teach you yoga at home. Sometimes it takes time to find a studio and instructor that’s right for you, but don’t give up because the instructor can greatly influence the quality of your experience.

The gear is fairly simple. It’s imperative that you have a yoga mat. Many studios provide them for you, but sometimes at a rental fee so it’s a good idea to purchase one. Generally, you will use yoga props such as blankets, blocks and bolsters, and the yoga studio typically provides them.

Yoga isn’t meant to be a fashion show so focus on comfort when choosing your attire. Ensure your clothing allows for easy movement. Pants that are specifically designed for yoga are helpful because they typically don’t slip down or slide up while performing poses. Avoid zippers, buttons and drawstrings, as they can feel uncomfortable during certain poses.

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The most important thing to remember is that yoga is not a competition and you shouldn’t feel as though you’re being judged. Relaxation, mindfulness and your well being are important aspects. The focus is on you, your breath and your energy.

Namaste.

Featured photo credit: Syda Productions via shutterstock.com

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Marilyn Rogers

Marketing Consultant | Content Strategist | Freelance Writer

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Science Says Screaming Is Good For You

Science Says Screaming Is Good For You

There are many reasons why people might scream – they’re angry, scared, or in pain (or maybe they’re in a metal band!). Some might say that screaming is bad, but here’s why science says it’s good for you.

“For the first time in the history of psychology there is a way to access feelings, hidden away, in a safe way and thus to reduce human suffering. It is, in essence, the first science of psychotherapy.” — Dr. Arthur Janov

Primal Therapy

Dr. Arthur Janov invented Primal Therapy in the late 1960’s. It is a practice that allows the patient to face their repressed emotions from past trauma head on and let those emotions go. This treatment is intended to cure any mental illness the patient may have that surfaced from this past trauma. In most cases, Primal Therapy has lead Dr. Janov’s patients to scream towards the end of their session, though it was not part of the original procedure. During a group therapy session that was at a standstill, Dr. Janov says that one of his patients, a student he called Danny, told a story that inspired him to implement a technique that he never would have thought of on his own.

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How it Started

“During a lull in our group therapy session, he told us a story about a man named Ortiz who was currently doing an act on the London stage in which he paraded around in diapers drinking bottles of milk. Throughout his number, Ortiz is shouting, ‘Mommy! Daddy! Mommy! Daddy!’ at the top of his lungs. At the end of his act he vomits. Plastic bags are passed out, and the audience is requested to follow suit.”

It doesn’t end there, though. Dr. Janov said that his patient was quite fascinated with that story, and that alone moved him to suggest something even he believed to be a little elementary.

“I asked him to call out, ‘Mommy! Daddy!’ Danny refused, saying that he couldn’t see the sense in such a childish act, and frankly, neither could I. But I persisted, and finally, he gave in. As he began, he became noticeably upset. Suddenly he was writhing on the floor in agony. His breathing was rapid, spasmodic. ‘Mommy! Daddy!’ came out of his mouth almost involuntarily in loud screeches. He appeared to be in a coma or hypnotic state. The writhing gave way to small convulsions, and finally, he released a piercing, deathlike scream that rattled the walls of my office. The entire episode lasted only a few minutes, and neither Danny nor I had any idea what had happened. All he could say afterward was: ‘I made it! I don’t know what, but I can feel.’”

Delving deeper

Dr. Janov says he was baffled for months, but then he decided to experiment with another patient with the same method, which lead to a similar result as before. The patient started out calling “Mommy! Daddy!” then experienced convulsions, heavy breathing, and then eventually screamed. After the session, Dr. Janov says his patient was transformed and became “virtually another human being. He became alert… he seemed to understand himself.”

Although the initial intention of this particular practice wasn’t to get the patient to scream, more than once did his Primal Therapy sessions end with the patient screaming and feeling lighter, revived, and relieved of stresses that were holding them down in life.

Some Methods To Practice Screaming

If you want to try it out for yourself, keep reading!

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  • Step 1: Be Alone — Be alone. If you live in a place that you can’t be alone, it might be a good idea to talk to your family or roommates and explain to them what you’re about to do and make sure they’re okay with it. If you’re good to go, move on to step 2.
  • Step 2: Lie Down — Lie down on a yoga mat on your back and place a pillow underneath your head. If you don’t own a yoga mat, you can use a rug or even a soft blanket.
  • Step 3: Think — Think of things that have hurt you or made you angry. It can be anything from your childhood or even something that happened recently to make yourself cry, if you’re not already crying or upset. You could even scream “Mommy! Daddy!” just like Dr. Janov’s patients did to get yourself started.
  • Step 4: Scream — Don’t hold anything back; cry and scream as loud as you can. You can also pound your fists on the ground, or just lie there and scream at the top of your lungs.

After this, you should return your breathing to a normal and steady pace. You should feel lighter, like a weight has been lifted off of you. If not, you can also try these other methods.

Scream Sing

Scream singing” is referring to what a lot of lead singers in metal or screamo bands will do. I’ve tried it and although I wasn’t very good at it, it was fun and definitely relieved me of any stress I was feeling from before. It usually ends up sounding like a really loud grunt, but nonetheless, it’s considered screaming.

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  • Step 1 — Bear down and make a grunting sound.
  • Step 2 — Hiss like a snake and make sure to do this from your diaphragm (your stomach) for as long as you can.
  • Step 3 — Breathe and push your stomach out for more air when you are belting notes, kind of like you would if you were singing.
  • Step 4 — Try different ways to let out air to control how long the note will last, just make sure not to let out too much air.
  • Step 5 — Distort your voice by pushing air out from your throat, just be careful not to strain yourself.
  • Step 6 — Play around with the pitch of your screams and how wide your mouth is open – the wider your mouth is open, the higher the screams will sound. The narrower or rounder your mouth is (and most likely shaped like an “o”), the lower the screams will sound.
  • Step 7 — Start screaming to metal music. If you’re not a huge metal fan, it’s okay. You don’t have to use this method if you don’t want to.

If you want a more thorough walkthrough of how to scream sing, here’s a good video tutorial. If this method is too strenuous on your vocal chords, stop. Also, make sure to stay hydrated when scream singing and drink lots of water.

Scream into a pillow

Grab a pillow and scream into it. This method is probably the fastest and easiest way to practice screaming. Just make sure to come up for air.

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Always remember to make sure that you’re not going to disturb anyone while practicing any of these methods of screaming. And with that, happy screaming!

Featured photo credit: Sharon Mollerus via flickr.com

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