Yoga Moves to Relieve Tension Headaches

By Robin Reichert

Yoga is a relaxing form of exercise combined with meditation that can help alleviate stress and tension headaches that often accompany stress. Many headaches result from stiff muscles and imbalances in the spine, neck and shoulders. Yoga will rejuvenate your mind and body to help relieve stress and help prevent tension headaches. Yoga addresses not only the symptoms of stress but also the causes of stress by helping you to relax.

Tension Headache

Tension headaches can be mild to moderate, in which the pain has been described as pressure around the head. You may feel tightness in the back of your neck, upper shoulders and back. You may also feel some tightness in your jaw. Tension headaches can be caused by fatigue and depression, as well as stress and anxiety. Clenching your jaw or staying in one position for too long without stretching your muscles can also cause tension headaches.

Benefits of Yoga

Yoga poses help to increase your strength and your flexibility. You control your breathing and become very aware of your body and its rhythms. The long-held stretches and positions, combined with controlled breathing, helps to clear your mind and relax your body. Doing yoga can help to reduce your stress as you develop a feeling of well-being. Regular yoga practice can help you manage your chronic illnesses, such as high blood pressure, heart disease and depression.


A few poses that may help alleviate tension headaches include the Cat pose, Seated Half Twists and Mountain pose. The Cat pose helps to release tension in the upper back and neck. Chest-expanding exercises include the Mudra Arms. Stretching your arms and shoulders to open your chest can help to relax your upper-body muscles to help relieve the pain of tension headaches. The Mountain pose stretches the muscles of your upper back and neck.


Gentle yoga stretches and poses can usually be done safely, but there is a risk of injury if performed incorrectly. The best way to learn how to do yoga poses correctly is to take a class with a certified yoga instructor. Listen to your body. If a yoga pose causes pain, stop immediately. If pain persists, see your doctor. Warm up for about 10 minutes before doing any exercise to help reduce your risk of muscle strain. Start with the easiest poses first and progress to more difficult poses if you are doing a full workout. Remember to stay hydrated by drinking water before and after a workout, even if you are doing light exercise.

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