Work pressure, stress, and tension are a part and parcel of our everyday lives. The hectic urban lifestyle that most of us lead has made us vulnerable to various health problems. Among them, headaches and insomnia are two of the most commonly seen disorders.
Migraine is a neurological disorder that causes moderate to severe headaches. The headache may last from two hours to two days. Insomnia, on the other hand, is a condition that causes difficulty in sleeping at night. This usually occurs due to mental tension and pressures of personal or professional life.
Yoga, for many years now, has been known for its postures (asanas) and breathing techniques that promote holistic and healthy lifestyle. According to Dr Ramesh Gautam, naturopathic practitioner at Arogya Ashram in Ratopul, Kathmandu, simple yoga postures and meditation for a few minutes every morning can prevent migraine attacks and cure insomnia. Here’s what he had to say.
The benefits of meditation
According to Dr Gautam, both insomnia and migraine are related to bodily tensions and pressures. Meditation is a holistic mind and body therapy that helps keep our mind calm and focused. “The entire philosophy behind meditation is to keep your mind away from the problems you are facing. When your mind is able detach itself from the worldly problems then diseases such as migraine and headaches can easily be cured,” says Dr Gautam.
While meditating, one can either focus on a picture, rose, lit candle or simply on their breathing. This helps in relaxing a person’s mind. A peaceful and clam mind for at least half an hour in the morning can prevent a lot of mental stress as well as keep many diseases at bay.
Yoga postures or Pranayams
Anulom Vilom or alternate nose breathing
This breathing exercise helps to balance and calm down the activities of both the sides of our brains. You first need to start by closing the right nostril and breathing in though left nostril. Then close left nostril immediately and breathe out through the right nostril.
The next step is to breathe in through your right side and breathe out through your left nostril. Repeat this process for about 5 to 15 minutes without holding your breath. This is a great way to relieve headaches, reduce migraine, and cure insomnia.
Sarvangasana or shoulder stand pose
For this pose, lie down on your back and try to raise your legs slowly till they are at 90 degrees. Then, place your palms on your lower back, supporting your waist. Use your elbow to push your back and hold up your upper body.
Hold your breath while raising your legs and press your chin against your chest. Remain in this position for as long as your body allows you to. Doing this exercise for three to five minutes every day will help alleviate mental pressures to a great extent. This pose reverses the blood flow in the body and locks the flow at your neck. This leads to reduced supply of blood towards your head for a few minutes that helps in reducing headaches and curing migraine and insomnia.
Halasana or plough pose
After Sarvangasana, bend your hips slowly towards your head. Make sure your toe touches the floor above and beyond your head. Try to keep your backbone straight. Then, stretch your hands behind you on the floor, opposite to your legs. Press your palms together and try to balance this position.
Sarvangasana is usually followed by Halasana. However, if you are menstruating or pregnant, you should not perform this yoga pose. This posture stimulates the thyroid gland, reduces stress and fatigue, calms the brain and also cures migraine and insomnia.
Dhanuasana or bow pose
For this pose, lie flat on your stomach then fold both your legs. Hold both your ankles with your palms. Inhale while raising your thighs and stomach upwards and arching your spine as much as possible. Hold the position for as long as you can comfortably do so. Return to the original position while exhaling.
This pose is extremely beneficial for the back and spinal cord. It is also a great stress buster.
Shavasana or corpse pose
This is an extremely simple pose that resembles the posture of a dead body. For this pose, you simply need to lie down on your back, close your eyes, and focus on your breathing. This pose is extremely relaxing and rejuvenating.
This pose relaxes and calms your body. It also helps in improving concentration, reducing blood pressure, and anxiety. It is usually done after an exercise and is extremely beneficial for alleviating migraine pain and curing insomnia.
Other things to keep in mind
Just regular exercise is not enough to get maximum benefits from yoga. One must also keep in mind their lifestyle, food habits, and working hours. According to Dr Gautam, not consuming meat for a couple of months can also help reduce stress. “Meat usually takes longer time to digest than vegetables and our body diverts most energy towards digestion. Having seasonal fruits and vegetables helps in keeping your body light and calm,” says Dr Gautam.
He also advises not to have junk food and replace them with four to six healthy meals in small quantities each day. Sleeping regularly for seven hours in a dark and comfortable room is also essential. According to Dr Gautam, it is also important to de-stress yourself and take regular breaks while at work. And lastly, you can also pamper yourself and detoxify your body by regular massages and healthy drinks.