7 Breathing Exercises For Headache

7 Breathing Exercises For Headache

Breathing Exercises For Headache

A headache is one of the common conditions that most people experience in their life. A headache causes pain and discomfort in your head, scalp, or neck. Headaches can be throbbing, sharp, constant, or dull and can range from mild to severe. Severe headaches can even cause difficulties in performing day-to-day activities.

There are natural therapies such as breathing exercises for headaches that can help you deal with the problem permanently.

Causes Of Headache

A headache is generally a sign of stress and/or emotional distress. It can also result from high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, or migraine. In very few cases, headaches may signal a more serious health condition that requires immediate medical care.

[Also Read: Natural remedies for anxiety]

Based on the causes, headaches can be classified into two types;

  • Primary headaches and
  • Secondary headaches.

Primary headaches include;

Secondary headaches are symptoms of an underlying medical condition such as;

  • A sinus infection
  • Neck injury
  • Blood clots in the brain, or
  • Cervicogenic headache (pain that develops in the neck, though felt in the head).

Common causes of a headache include;

1. General Illness

General illness includes infections, cold, flu, or fever.

2. Health Conditions

Such as sinusitis, a throat infection, or an ear infection can cause headaches.

3. Stress

Emotional stress and/or depression. Alcohol intake, skipping meals, overuse of medications, changes in sleeping patterns, and neck or back strain because of poor posture can also cause headaches.

4. Environment

Your surroundings that can cause a headache may include second and tobacco smoke, strong odors from perfumes/household chemicals, and certain foods. Weather changes, pollution, loud noises, and bright lighting can also trigger headaches.

5. Genetics

Headaches, especially migraine, runs in families. Individuals with a family history of headaches are at an increased risk of developing a migraine.

Can Breathing Exercises Help With Headaches?

Breathing exercises can be a key part of headache treatment. They provide beneficial effects on your body by calming and controlling your stress levels.

Breathing exercises relax the body, mind, and soul, and work wonders in easing headache. They are considered very safe to get relief from headaches, especially tension headaches or migraines.

List Of Breathing Exercises For Headache

The right breathing helps to keep headaches at bay.

Breathing techniques have the power to heal and provide an ideal solution for headaches. By being conscious and controlling breath, you can keep yourself safe from many ailments.

When the right amount of oxygen is inhaled, it aids adequate blood flow, calms you down, and helps the body to work on your headache. This can be achieved by breathing from the belly that helps relax and cure your headache.

Here are some breathing exercises;

1. Rhythmic Breathing

Avoid short and rapid breaths. Consider taking deep breaths up to a count of 10 while you inhale (let the air in) and another 10 while you exhale (let the air out) to have breaths longer than usual. Follow this rhythmic deep, slow breathing and observe your body's response, it will bring about relaxation of your nerves and decrease the intensity of the headache.

2. Balloon Technique

This is an amazing breathing exercise for easing headaches.

How To Do

  • Keep your back straight, focus on a spot below your navel, and breathe.
  • Breathe until you feel that the air has reached the spot of focus, filling up your abdomen.
  • Then exhale slowly and steadily, pulling your belly in, like a balloon that deflates.

This technique of inhaling and exhaling for a while makes you get rid of the headache.

3. Visualized Breathing

This involves a combination of breathing and pictures in your mind.

How To Do

  • Sit comfortably and breathe normally.
  • As you inhale, imagine, and feel the air going down your windpipe, into your lungs, expanding your chest and belly. Feel that you are taking in all the peace and calmness you require.
  • While you exhale, imagine, and feel pushing the tension out from your body.

Repeat a couple of times for a headache to disappear.

4. Therapeutic Music

In a comfortable and positive space, consider playing soothing music while doing deep and focused breathing. Choose music that lifts your mood. The music helps you to calm down, relaxes your muscles, energizes your body, and eases your headache.

5. Alternate Nostril Breathing

This technique known as Nadi Shodhana is pranayama for headaches that involve breathing in and out through alternate nostrils. This is a good and famous practice that helps in the overall relaxation of your body. Inhale through your left nostril while closing the right nostril, and exhale through your right nostril while closing the left nostril. Repeat the practice several times to treat your headache.

How To Do

Steps for 1 cycle of Nadi Shodhana;

  • Sit in a comfortable position, keep your spine straight and shoulders relaxed.
  • Get your right hand into Vishnu Mudra (your thumb to the right nostril; ring and pinky fingers to the left; index and middle finger folded over into the palm, resting at the base of the thumb)
  • Exhale completely
  • Close the right nostril with your thumb and inhale through the left nostril slowly and steadily
  • Release right nostril and exhale
  • Close the left nostril using the ring finger and inhale through the right nostril
  • Release left nostril and exhale

6. Sudarshan Kriya

This technique comprises a three-part process of breathing. It involves sitting in the Vajrasana position (kneeling and then sitting back on your legs to remove weight off your knees).

How To Do

The three paces of breathing are;

  • Practice slow and balanced breaths of inhalation and exhalation at an equal pace.
  • Exhalations with the duration twice as that of inhalations.
  • Inhalations twice the duration of exhalations.

A brief session of Sudarshan kriya would take about 45 minutes.

7. Bhastrika

Involves a rapid series of inhalations and exhalations. The process involves 10 rapid breaths comprising 5 inhalations and 5 exhalations followed by one long breath.

How To Do

  • Sit comfortably with your spine straight.
  • Breathe out by contracting the abdominal muscles quickly and forcefully.
  • Immediately breathe in with an equal force, allowing the abdominal muscles to relax completely.

Repeat the technique for at least 5 minutes to rejuvenate your mind and ease the headache.

Breathing exercises for headaches must be practiced properly and regularly for effective results.


Vasavi Attada

Vasavi Attada specializes in creating content for the Medical/healthcare domain. She has written articles for Indian Health Organization (IHO), American Diabetes Association, and for magazines such as India Today and Dignity Dialogue.

Vasavi Attada holds a Master’s degree in Microbiology from Bangalore University.