Breathing for Headache Relief

Breathing patterns can be disrupted by change in emotion . Become aware of your own breathing patterns and how it changes with stress and with your daily activities. Are you a belly breather or a chest breather? Do you breathe through your nose or your mouth? Is your breath shallow or deep?

Those who are anxious and stressed tend to hold their breath, and many people tend to breathe through their mouth. Nasal breathing is more beneficial because it pulls air into the bottom of the lungs providing 20% more oxygen. It also warms the air about 40 degrees before it enters the lungs, and it provides a filtration system against bacteria and other germs.

Research has shown that breathing in and out through your nose and from your belly, can produce a calming effect on the body. This may help to relieve headache pain.

Find a quiet place where you can create a comfortable soothing space. Lay on your back with your arms stretched out 45 degrees away from your body, palms up, and put a support, like a rolled up blanket or orthopedic pillow, under your neck. You can place a bolster under your knees to relieve tension off of the lower back.

Gently close your eyes and start to drop into your breath. Place your tongue gently on the roof of your mouth, rest your lips gently upon one another and begin to slowly inhale and exhale through your nose. With each inhale, the belly should rise first, then the ribs expand and then the chest. With each exhale, pull the navel into your spine and press air out from your belly first, then from the ribs and then the chest. The air is always entering or exiting from the bottom of the lungs to the top.

As you continue to be aware of your breath you will begin to quiet your mind. Try to put out any thoughts out of your mind and just be aware of your breath, in and out through your nose and initiating the breath from your lower lungs first and finally into the upper lungs. Your breath will become the link between your mind and your body.

As you start to become body aware, begin to scan your body. Start by noticing if you are carrying tension in the feet and ankles, point and flex the foot and rotate the ankles. Release tension in the knees and the hips, and into the trunk and chest. Let go of stress in the neck and the shoulders, turn the head side to side with your breath. Release tension in the arms into the elbows, and down into the wrists and fingers. Wiggle the fingers and rotate through the wrists. Begin to deepen your breath with each inhale and exhale. Each time you exhale, feel yourself letting go and releasing all of your stress and tension into the floor.

Repeat positive affirmations, “I am going to let go of things I cannot control”, “I am healthy, vital and strong”.

Continue this practice for at least 5-15 minutes for best results.

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