Researchers in India have found that gentle yoga can relieve migraine sufferers. A combination of yoga poses, breathing exercises and relaxation can not only help lessen the incidence and intensity of migraine.
The research led by Dr. P.J. John of the University of Rajasthan, Jaipur found that among 72 adults suffering from migraines, patients who were randomly assigned to take part in a yoga therapy program started having headaches less often and endured less pain with each migraine attack compared with the subjects assigned to a self-care group. The pain relief also lessened the symptoms of anxiety and depression among the patients.
It is believed that practicing gentle yoga and breathing exercise has a calming effect on the nervous system. Yoga can also help lighten various forms of pain, from chronic back pain to the joint pain of arthritis.
The 72 migraine sufferers were randomly dived into two groups. One group received education on managing their pain by avoiding migraine triggers and making diet and lifestyle changes.
The other group received yoga therapy, which included gentle yoga postures, breathing practices, relaxation and meditation. Participants practiced five days a week for one hour each day, except on days when they were having a migraine attack or just recovering from one.
It was noticed that after three months, the yoga group showed an improvement on the whole, in the frequency and intensity of their migraine attacks, whereas the other group showed either no change or worsened symptoms.
"This study provides preliminary evidence that integrated yoga therapy can be an effective treatment for migraine," John's team writes.
Longer-term studies on a larger scale are now needed to confirm the results, the researchers conclude.
The complete study findings are reported in the current issue of the journal Headache.