Ayurveda is considered to be the “sister science” to yoga. Think of it as the nutritional or internal side to the physical part of yoga. The yin to the yang. They work together and complement each other in a way that brings harmony and balance to the body. The body naturally and continuously will try to restore balance, all you need to do is to give it a little support.
Let’s just face it: the current state of the world we live in doesn’t exactly promote effortless harmony. Stress, worry, fear and living in an almost constant state of ‘fight or flight’ leaves us out of balance and exhausted.
This often brings on nagging and irritating headaches. I am not talking about chronic migraines, but the normal life driven headache.
According the Ayurveda, these headaches are usually caused by tension or stress (aka tension headaches). The muscles around the head and neck contract and slow down blood flow to the area. This leads to the ache that moves from the back of the head and often spreads up to the forehead. The blood cannot get in and it hurts.
The other common headache stems from the vascular system. This too is a result of too much stress for too long. Fight or flight is only designed for short bursts of needed energy. It certainly wasn’t supposed to become a way of life 7 days a week. Not only does it give a good headache, but it wears down the adrenal system and the immune system. With a vascular headache, the blood vessels in the head and neck first contract, and then expand. The dilated blood vessels create the pressure in the forehead, temples and can spread throughout the entire head. The blood cannot get out and it hurts.
So what can you do about it?
First, reduce your stress and tension. Schedule some time for yourself to recharge and relax on a regular basis. Yoga, massage, meditation, even just reading a book, isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity for healthy living!
If you get one of these lovely headaches anyway. The Ayurvedic treatment is easy to remember:
Cold to the Head and Heat to the Feet!
The feet have tons of blood vessels and when you warm up the tootsies, they dilate. The circulation increases with the expansion and pulls blood away from the rest of the body (like the head that hurts). If you don’t have access to or time for resting your feed near a fire, you can simply wrap the feet in a towel with hot water bottles or soak them in a warm tub. 20 to 3o minutes is usually enough.
At the same time, cool the head. Lying down and placing a cold towel or possibly even an ice pack on the head will help to constrict the congested blood vessels and move that blood away from the head and toward the feet. Circulation is improved and restored. As with all things Yoga and Ayurveda, comfort is key. Don’t stress, the heat and the cold should be comfortable, not painful.
Thinking it’s not enough? You can layer on one more remedy. Slice some fresh ginger and steep in hot water for a warm, soothing tea. This natural remedy will reduce the inflammation of the blood vessels and calm your nervous system down into it’s natural and balanced state. It is also delicious and smells wonderful!