I have done yoga on and off for years. It started as a method of relaxation, and a way to stretch out tired muscles. I also have a tendency to suffer from headaches. All the time. Mainly tension headaches (originating in my neck, back and shoulders), but sometimes dehydration headaches, and – until I recently renewed my glasses prescription – eye strain headaches.
**Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. This is simply my experience of using yoga to help with headaches, as well as for exercise. I do suffer from headaches, they are a nuisance, but they are not chronic and are not migraines**
Because I am so prone to them, it would not be an exaggeration to say I live in fear of that familiar tightening at the base of my skull. I know that there is a fairly good chance that I will suffer from a headache if I spend a day out and about (because I’m an introvert, but that’s a whole other blog post). If I spend too long staring at a screen (iPad, PC etc) I will end up with some degree of aching in the noggin. I am constantly drinking water, not just because I like the way it helps keep my skin clear, but because I am terrified of becoming too dehydrated. Am I sounding like I have issues yet?
Then a few years ago I discovered the wonder that is yoga. It works like magic. Within minutes, I can feel the tension draining from my overly tight muscles. At the beginning of this year I started running in the morning, and as my cool down I will do between 20 and 40 minutes of yoga. I never thought I would be someone who would enjoy working out, but I actually look forward to my hour or so of activity each day.
Yoga in The Home
For the yoga, I use a couple of different sources. I have a few apps on my iPad (my favourite is Yoga Studio) that allow me to choose the length and difficulty of a session. Of course, YouTube was also a revelation to me. It would be fair to say that YouTube is one of my guilty pleasures. I even wrote about my Favourite Beauty YouTube Channels. However, it was only recently that I discovered what a fantastic resource YouTube is for yoga. My top two are Yoga By Candace, and Yoga With Adriene.
For straight to the point yoga, Candace is amazing. She is strong, but real. I love that she wobbles a bit, but makes it look easy at the same time. When I want a proper sweaty workout (rather than a stretching relaxing one) I will choose Candace. She does a mix of voiceovers and talk-throughs, and there is no filling or fluff. Her yoga is varied, and I usually choose her Power Yoga videos.
Adriene, on the other hand, is relaxed and chatty. She makes you work without even realising it’s happening, because she makes you feel like you’re working out with a friend. What I love about Adriene is that she encourages you, (there’s a lot of ‘keep going my friend’s) and lets you know how many breaths are left in the more challenging poses. Her style won’t be for everyone, and I do sometimes find myself urging her, in my mind, to stop talking and change poses. But only because it’s hurting. And I am a wimp.
Yoga for Weight loss
But what about progress? Well, I am not looking like a yoga expert yet, and in fact I don’t see a difference at all. However, there definitely IS a difference. Three months ago I couldn’t do more than 10 seconds of plank without shaking like a leaf, and now I can not only hold it, but also move smoothly to the next pose. I can even do side plank, which I honestly thought would never be possible.
Personally, I haven’t lost any weight since starting my yoga journey (ooh, get me) and that was never really the aim. I started it as a way to get strong, and I am making steady progress in that respect. I know there are a lot of people who swear by yoga for losing weight, and that’s great. However, the main positive for me (other than the fabulous loosening of my aging muscles – four pregnancies took their toll) is that yoga has made me want to be healthy. I finish a session, and I want to reach for a healthy snack more often than not (of course biscuits will always have a special place in my heart).
And the best thing? You really don’t need anything specific. A mat is a good idea, but even that is not essential to begin with. Yoga is best done with comfortable clothing, and bare feet.
Yoga has helped massively with my tension headaches, and starts my day off in the best possible way. It’s making me stronger, and more flexible. In fact the only challenge is trying to hold downward dog while my toddler uses me as a bridge.
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