REFER TO THE EXPLANATION CONCERNING HOW TO USE THIS INFORMATION IN
HS01 THE BASIS OF SELF THERAPY
HS16 HOW TO USE THESE SUGGESTIONS
HS17 DESCRIPTION OF YOGA EXERCISES
Headache can ruin one’s day. It is difficult to function effectively at work or at home, and life is joyless. We tend to become more sensitive to the sounds and the actions of the people around us. We more easily get disturbed and annoyed at what others may say or do. We have less patience and tolerance for those around us. We suffer physically and mentally.
When headaches become a chronic condition, they can change our character completely; we may start to develop a negative view towards life. Our relations with others can be seriously affected by our constant bad mood and in addition this constant tension in the head can affect the function of all the other systems of the body. The head is the administrative section of the body, where command messages are sent out in the form of nerve impulses and hormones. If there is constant tension in the head then all the other organs of the body will be affected in a negative way. And thus one becomes more susceptible to other physical and mental problems.
COMMON CAUSES OF HEADACHE
1. One major cause of headaches is the internal poisoning of the nervous system. This occurs when a person eats highly toxic foods such as meats which have been grown with hormones and antibiotics and have stood many days before consumption. Other sources of toxins are highly processed foods such as white flour and white sugar which rob the system of essential vitamins and minerals. Other toxic imputs are cigarette smoke, alcohol, and foods with large quantities of chemical fertilizers or preservatives.
2. This tendency of the system to get clogged up is multiplied a hundred times when a person has constipation or inefficient excretion of waste products. In our experience, about 50 per cent of the people with frequent headaches have constipation or problems with their kidneys. When these waste products are not cleared out of the system they react upon the nervous system creating tension in the nerves, blood vessels, heart, liver, kidneys, and all the other systems of the body.
3. This problem of auto-toxification is multiplied even further when one is living is a polluted environment, inhaling toxic substances which react negatively on lungs and nervous system.
4. Another major source of headaches is tension in the neck. Neck tension can be result of too much thinking, especially worrying, or poor posture, or the result of some specific type of work such as typing or sewing.
5. Neck tension may also be associated with eye strain, which may result from a certain type of work which requires much concentration with the eyes, or simply a growing weakness or tension in the eyes.
6. The overall tension in all the body may also contribute to this tension in the neck, eyes, and head. This is especially true of the tension in the spine which tends to flow up into the neck and head.
7. All of the tension along the spine and especially in the neck creates a blockage in the flow of blood to the head. This creates a lack of blood and, therefore, nutrients and oxygen in the cells of the brain. These cells thus suffer and a headache can easily ensue.
8. The tension in the neck, spine and head is often the result of frequent emotional upset, worry or anxiety. People who are unable to relax or sleep properly are much more susceptible to headaches than those with a relaxed nature.
9. When anxiety, worry, tension or extreme emotions become chronic conditions, they throw the nervous system and endocrine system out of balance. This hormonal imbalance can often generate headaches, especially during the days preceding and during a woman’s menstrual period.
10. There may be other factors contributing to headaches such as certain hereditary tendencies or organic malfunctioning within the individual.
YOU CAN CURE YOUR OWN HEADACHES
The best cure is prevention. Let us look at some of the ways in which we can free ourselves from the discomfort and burden of headaches.
1. Massage can help to relax the muscles and nerves of the neck, head and eyes so as to increase the flow of blood and relieve the pain. This is only a temporary solution, however, for we have not effected the headache as its cause. We have only momentarily removed the symptom.
2. A proper diet with pure non-toxic foods will help the body to free itself from the accumulation of toxic wastes. Some, who have a high degree of toxicity, may want to go through a detoxification fast under the guidance of a professional naturopath so as to clean out their system.
3. If constipation is also a contributing factor, then one should immediately begin to solve this problem with a balanced diet. One may even want to make a few purges with an enema so as to clear out some of the toxic waste in the intestines, preferably under the guidance of a doctor or professional health counselor.
4. When one is consuming large amounts of pollution and living a life of general stress, he can protect his body from vitamin deficiency by taking vitamins B, C and E. These vitamins should be taken in as natural form as possible, but it is seldom possible to get all one needs through natural foods alone. Some naturopaths recommend doses of 1000 milligrams of vitamin C and 200 i.u. of vitamin E per day. Vitamin B can be absorbed through eating brewer’s yeast according to the recommendation on the package.
5. The tension which accumulates in the spine, neck and head can be relaxed and released through specific exercises and breathing techniques. (We will give a series of exercises at the end of this article). These exercises are also useful for creating an overall harmony in the nervous and endocrine system, thus eliminating the contributing factor of imbalanced hormones and tension in the nervous system.
6. Breathing techniques in conjunction with deep relaxation offer a person a wonderful tool for relaxing all the muscles and nerves, and even the emotions and the mind itself. These techniques are not only useful for preventing headaches, but are also a wonderful first aid for an already existing headache.
7. Another harmonizing factor is a routine in one’s life. The body and mind function much more efficiently and peacefully when there is a certain rhythm in one’s way of living. Regular hours for sleep, waking, eating and washing are very calming to the nervous system and endocrine system.
8. Those who have much nervous tension would benefit from regular practice of meditation or inner concentration which would allow them to release physical and mental tensions on a daily basis.
9. Simultaneously one should try to understand the cause of his nervous tension and anxiety. Self-analysis into the working of one’s mind and personality will help one to discover the way in which he creates unnecessary worry and tension for himself.
10. So much of our worry and nervous tension is a result of our ignorance or forgetfulness of our true spiritual nature. We lack self-confidence and faith in Divine protection and guidance. Thus the study of spiritual truths handed down to us through the various religions and spiritual philosophies can help us to see our worries and problems in a more clear and rational perspective. Wisdom brings Peace. Wisdom leads to love and harmony.
In conclusion we may say that headaches in most cases are the result of wrong or imbalanced living and thinking. We can change our way of living and thinking, and thus free ourselves from these unnecessary pains. Thus our headache becomes our teacher or inner guide who reminds us when we are moving away from the harmonious path or right living, acting and thinking.
The following exercises should be done slowly and consciously, never straining or forcing the body. They should be done at least once a day, or, even better, twice a day. Best results are achieved when they are done in a well-ventilated but warm room on an empty stomach. If you have any questions, consult a qualified yoga teacher.
1. HEAD ROLLS – 5 times to each side.
2. SALUTATION TO THE EARTH – Sit comfortably on your knees and allow your buttocks to rest upon your calves and ankles. Place your hands together in a position of prayer. Then as you inhale, raise your arms upward and backward, stretching your upper spine upward and backward, also letting your head fall backwards. Hold that position while holding your breath for up to 4 seconds. Then exhale as you bring your body forward, lowering your hands to the floor and sliding them forward so as to create a curve in the upper spine. Your thighs should be perpendicular to the floor. Place your chin on the floor with your arms stretched out in front of you. Hold your lungs empty in this position for up to 4 seconds. Then start inhaling as you come back up to the sitting position and stretch upward and backward as you did at first. Hold again and then come forward again. Make these movements and positions continuously for three to five repetitions.
Benefits: This exercise will open up the flow of energy in the upper back, shoulders and neck, and release the tension which is locked in there.
3. DYNAMIC RABBIT – Sit again on your calves and ankles and place your elbows before you on the floor close to your knees. Then come onto all fours and place your head between your two hands. Take a deep inhalation, hold your breath, and roll your head forward on the floor until you feel a stretching in the back of the neck. (Be careful not to ever stretch your neck. If you have problems with the cervical vertebrae do not do this movement). Hold your breath while rolling your head back and forth within the limits of the stretching ability of your neck muscles. Then exhale and relax. Do this three times.
Benefits: This exercise opens up the flow of energy and blood in the muscles of the back of the neck. This allows these muscles to relax and ensures greater flow of blood to the head.
4. DYNAMIC PRAYER POSITION – Sitting again on your calves and ankles, take a deep inhalation and hold your breath as you lower your head to the floor taking the prayer position. Hold your breath for about 5 seconds and then exhale as you relax and come back up to a sitting position. (Those with high blood pressure should not do this exercise). You may do this three times and then come down into the prayer position consciously allowing all your body to relax for from one minutes to ten minutes according to your degree of comfort and amount of time you have available.
Benefits: This exercise relaxes all the muscles of the back, shoulders and neck and allows for greater flow to the head and eyes. It is a wonderfully rejuvenating position for all the body and mind.
5. DYNAMIC HALF FISH – Lie down on your back on a comfortable mat, carpet of folded blanket. Place your arms close to your body with your palms resting against the sides of your thighs. Bring your chin in towards your neck so that the back of your neck aligns itself with your spine. Now, as you inhale, arch your chest upward without lifting your head or curving it backwards. Hold your breath for up to four or five seconds and then exhale and relax your upper back so that it once again comes down to contact the mat. You will not be able to lift your upper back very high off the mat, so do not strain while doing this exercise. You may do it three times.
Benefits: This exercise increases the distance between the cervical vertebrae, thus removing any blockages in the nerves there as a result of the pressing together of the various vertebrae. It is also a wonderful exercise for correcting the position of the vertebrae in the upper back which tend to hunch forward because of poor posture.
6. THE FISH – Take the same position as previously for the half fish, but now place your arms underneath you so that your buttocks are resting on your hands. Make sure that your arms are straight. Now lift your head upward and tilt your head backwards so that the top of your head comes into contact with the floor. You can support yourself with your elbows and the top of your head and your buttocks. Hold this position, breathe slowly in a relaxed way for as long as you feel comfortable. (Avoid this exercise if you have high blood pressure or serious problems with your cervical vertebrae). Hold the position as long as you feel comfortable and then relax.
Benefits: The fish curves the shoulders, upper back and neck backwards and thus helps to reverse the forward hunching of the area which results from bad posture and various types of work such as office work, typing, cooking, cleaning, sewing, etc. This allows a greater flow of blood and life force to the head. It also stimulates the thyroid glands so as to contribute towards hormonal harmony.
7. HALF-SHOULDER STAND – Place a mat close to the wall and lie down on your back with your buttocks very close to the wall and your legs resting up on the wall. If you like, you can place a large pillow underneath your buttocks so as to create a greater incline. Make sure that your back, shoulders and neck are in a comfortable position. (If you have high blood pressure, you may find this position a little difficult in the beginning as you will feel the pressure in your head. You should check with your doctor to see if he agrees for you to do it). Now there are four stages to this exercise:
a) While lying in this position, inhale slowly while raising your arms up over your head until they rest on the floor behind your head. Hold your breath in this position for a few seconds and then lower your hands back b your side as you exhale. This movement may be practiced in harmony with the breath from five to ten times at the rhythm which you feel most comfortable. A good rhythm is to have an equal inhalation, retention and exhalation. Thus one could inhale for a count of three, hold for three, and exhale for three.
b) In the next stage, you take a deep inhalation and then turn your head to the right while keeping the head in contact with the mat and holding your breath. Hold your breath for a few seconds and then exhale returning the head to the center again. Then take another deep inhalation and turn your head to the left, hold a few seconds and return it to the center exhaling. This exercise too may be practiced with the breathing ratio inhaling for three, holding for three, and exhaling for three. One should always try to breathe as slowly and deeply as one can, without forcing the breath.
c) In the third stage one simply breathes slowly and deeply with concentration on the inhalation and exhalation. One should never force the breath, but breath as slowly and deeply as comfortably possible. On every exhalation one can concentrate on relaxing the neck, shoulders and eyes. One can take from 5 to 20 such deep breaths according to one’s capacity. The breath is more effective when it is rhythmic with the ratio of breathing in which the inhalation, retention and exhalation are of equal length.
d) In the final stage one simply remains in this position with the legs up on the wall and allows his shoulders, neck and head to relax as much as possible. Special attention should be given to the area of the eyes and the center of the forehead. If there is tension in the eyes, one can place the palms over the eyes in a gentle manner and allow the peaceful energy of the hands to flow into and relax the eyes and the forehead. The palms can be left in this position for as long as ten minutes if one has the inclination and time. At any rate, one can relax in this position with or without the hands in this position for as long as one feels comfortable.
Benefits: It is obvious that this exercise helps to bring blood to the head, shoulders, neck and eyes. The twisting of the neck from side to side opens up the neck and stimulates the thyroid glands. This is a wonderful position to relax in and is as good for the legs as it is for the head. The deep rhythmic breathing allows for greater oxygenation and relaxation of the nervous system and capillaries of the circulatory system.
8. DEEP RELAXATION – At the end of each exercise session one can practice deep relaxation.
These exercises are most effective when practiced daily, if possible twice a day. The time invested will generate much more time through increased clarity and efficiency. It is not necessary to suffer from headaches.