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Why Do I Get Headaches from Doing Yoga: 7 Possible Causes

Do you get a headache during or after a yoga practice? Read on to learn the possible reasons why your head hurts from doing yoga and some things you can do about it.

We practice yoga to relax, relieve stress, and stay healthy. Among the many yoga benefits, it can help manage headaches and migraines. Yet, we sometimes get headaches from doing it. Why is that so?

Here are some common reasons why you develop a headache from yoga and what you can do to prevent it from happening:

1. Dehydration

Dehydration is one of the most common culprits of headache after an exercise, including yoga. This is because you sweat a lot during your session. You may develop a headache after doing hot yoga or a demanding yoga session.

What you can do: Be sure to stay hydrated during the entire day. Drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after your yoga sessions. You may also want to avoid drinking caffeinated drinks, such as coffee or soda, which may cause headaches.

2. Doing yoga on an empty stomach

When you exercise with an empty stomach, your blood sugar levels can drop. This will cause your body to release hormones, which signal your brain that you are hungry. These hormones may also cause your blood pressure to rise and your blood vessels to tighten, resulting in head pain. This is more commonly known as "hunger headache".

What you can do: Eat a small snack before hitting the mat to give your body the fuel it needs. A piece of banana is a great pre-yoga snack that also gives you potassium, which helps prevent headaches.

3. Incorrect form

You can also get a headache when you do some yoga forms wrong. Improper alignment may cause muscle tension, pinched nerves, or muscle strain in your neck and head. These discomforts may cause headaches during and after your yoga session.

What you can do: Be sure to do proper stretching before yoga. Carefully follow the instructions of your yoga instructor regarding proper form. You may ask your instructor to help make adjustments to your position. Regular head and neck stretching at home also helps to prevent yoga headache in the future.

4. Inversion poses

Some poses can actually give you head pain. Inversion poses, where your heart is positioned higher than your head, can trigger headaches. Examples of these poses are headstand, downward dog, and bridge pose.

What you can do: When you are prone to having headaches, avoid inversion poses. If you are trying to relieve your headache through yoga, do not do inversion poses.

5. Improper breathing

Improper breathing, such as shallow breathing or holding your breath during a pose without realizing it, may make it hard for oxygen to reach your brain. The insufficient oxygen supply in your brain may cause your head to hurt during the session.

What you can do: Avoid making shallow breaths and holding your breath, especially when you focus on a certain pose. Instead, breathe deeply during the entire session so that the oxygen can reach your brain.

6. Overworking

Yoga poses are meant to be relaxing and low-impact. However, if you are trying on a new pose or a more advanced form, you may tend to overexert. Overworking your body can cause head pain. This is true with all other exercises when you overexert and do more than what your body is capable of doing.

What you can do: Be kind to yourself and take it slow with every movement. Do not rush and push yourself to do the perfect form. Stick to what is comfortable with your body for every new pose you try.

7. Bright lights

If you are prone to having migraines, the bright lights at home, in your studio, or outdoors may be the culprit to your headache.

What you can do: Make sure indoor light is comfortable enough for your practice. When practicing yoga outdoors, be aware of glaring lights that may trigger your headache.

Final tips

Yoga headaches can be due to different reasons. Learn to recognize what could be causing your headache. Ask yourself questions - Do you stay hydrated throughout the day and during your yoga practice? Do you exercise with an empty stomach? Do you overexert when trying new poses? Do you focus on your form too much that you forget about breathing properly? When you pinpoint what could be causing your headache, you will learn to avoid head pain and enjoy all the benefits of yoga.

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