Yoga for tension headaches

Yoga For Headaches

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What’s up my friends? Welcome to Yoga with
Adriene. I’m Adriene. Sorry you have a headache.

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Let’s do some yoga to try to help you feel
better.

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All right, so we’re going to begin in a comfortable
seat. I recommend, since we’re going for a

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nurturing practice here, maybe lifting the
hips up on a blanket here, like so. You can

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also sit up on a pillow or a block or a book.
It’s not necessary. You can even do this part

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in a chair. But just take a second to get
into a comfortable seat, because we’re going

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to begin with my number one headache remedy,
which is a little Pranayama, alternate nostril

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breathing, which we have a video for as well
that I’ll link you to. But I’ll take you through

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the steps here, since we’re here now, together.
We’ll take the hand out in front and we’re

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just going to take the three middle fingers
and draw them in towards the palm. Then I

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will sit up nice and tall. Take a deep breath
in and a long breath out. I’m going to begin

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with Nadi Shodhana, alternate nostril breathing.
So, I’ll bring the thumb to the right nostril.

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You can keep your eyes open to check me out,
and then once you feel like you get the rhythm,

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we’ll close the eyes and just kind of soften
the skin of the face a little bit here.

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So Nadi Shodhana, alternate nostril breathing,
we bring the right thumb to the right nostril.

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I’m going to take a deep breath in through
the left nostril. After the inhale at the

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top, I’m going to bring my right pinkie now
to plug the left nostril as I breathe out

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through the right. So, I’m alternating in
and out. Now I’ll inhale in through the right

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nostril. Pause at the top. Alternate. And
breathe out through the left nostril. Inhale

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in through the left. Pause at the top, reseal
the left nostril and switch out through the

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right. So, if this is new to you and you’re
like, “I have a headache, I can’t learn anything

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new right now. I’m so frustrated,” I understand.
I’m just going to meet you at the pass with

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that. So, drop the hands for a second, take
a deep breath in and exhale. Shake it out.

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And we try again. So, each time we’re inhaling,
we’re switching to the alternate nostril and

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then we’re exhaling. Each time we exhale,
we’ll inhale through that same nostril. This

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breath, this Pranayama practice, especially
once you get the hang of it, is so calming,

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so cooling, really great for headaches and
really wonderful particularly for sinus headaches.

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We’re going to address a couple of different
kinds of headaches, the sinus headaches, tension

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headaches, stress. But let’s begin again,
a little alternate nostril breathing and we’ll

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have a separate video for migraines, but if
you’re really already feeling that pounding

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headache, really splitting your moment in
two, you might just do this alternate nostril

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breathing and then save the rest of the video
for later.

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So, here we go. A couple of more passes. I’ll
close the eyes this time maybe. And inhale,

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in through the left nostril, sealing the right.
Pause and switch. Exhale out through the right.

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Inhale, in through the right. Switch. Out
through the left. Deep inhale, in through

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the left. Pause and switch. Long exhale, out
through the right. Sit up nice and tall. Inhale

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deeply through the right. Pause, switch and
seal out through the left. Inhale in through

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the left. Pause, switch, seal and out through
the right. Deep inhale in through the right

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nostril. And switch, and out through the left.
We’ll continue in just a couple of moments

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on your own.

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Let’s do one more pass, seeing if we can extend
the inhalation and exhalation a little more.

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Finish it out wherever you are. Even it out
if you must and then we’ll find what feels

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good as we release the hands and take a second
to just breathe in and out through both nostrils.

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Sit up nice and tall. Relax the skin of the
face. Close your eyes, you don’t need to look

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at the video here. I gotcha. See if you can
align your head over your heart and your heart

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over the pelvis or the base of the spine here.
So, just bring a little consciousness into

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the body. Then nice and easy, we’ll draw the
shoulders up towards the ears on a big breath

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in. And on an exhale, draw the shoulder blades
in and together and down for your release.

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Two more just like that. Inhale. And exhale.
And inhale, trying to get into the neck and

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shoulders. Release any tension that might
be creeping up towards the brain. Cool.

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Draw the palms together at the heart, inhale
in through the nose. This time exhale out

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through the mouth. You can bat the eyelashes
open. Take a look at the video, at your screen,

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but keep your energy nice and soft. So, we’re
using the breath to create a little bit of

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healing here for the head. And for me, people
always kind of furrow their brow, or wonder

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like how do I send breath to various parts
of the body. So, think of it as energy today.

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For me, that’s what restorative yoga is all
about. That’s where the real power of yoga

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and its healing approach comes from energy.
So think of the breath as energy. So, we’ll

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send breath, we’ll send energy to the neck
and shoulders here with this next move by

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practicing Garudasana Arms.

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We’re going to send the fingertips out, also
known as Eagle Arms, and we sit up nice and

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tall. This is where, again, lifting the hips
can help a little bit. So, if you feel like

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the Mr. Burns thing going on, give yourself
a little support, a little lift so you can

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sit up nice and tall. So, you send the fingertips
out. Keep it soft. Shoulders are relaxed.

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You might even start to go, “Oh yeah, now
I’m starting to realize why I have a headache.”

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So, we’ll relax. The shoulders down and find
a gentle lift up through the heart through

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the sternum.

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Then nice and easy, we’re going to cross the
right arm underneath the left. Then we bend

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the elbows. Kind of come to a “Hi-ya.” No
more headache. Then we’ll continue the wrap

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around, maybe the palms come together or maybe
not, it doesn’t really matter. We can just

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let the fingertips come wherever they naturally
arrive and if it’s here, that’s fine too.

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So, we’re just finding this cross and we’re
wanting to find a broadness through the upper

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back body and this lift in the heart as I
inhale, reach the fingertips and elbows up,

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exhale, fingertips out. Again, inhale. Fingertips
and elbows up. We reach. Exhale, fingertips

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out. Don’t push. Breathe into the upper back
body. Close your eyes now. Deepen your breath

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and again, think of the breath as energy.
So, we find a couple of nice, long, smooth,

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deep breaths here. Breathing into the upper
back body, breathing into the neck and shoulders,

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sitting up nice and tall.

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So, this is wonderful for circulation in the
upper body. We’re going to keep moving here,

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but again, if you’re already to the point
of borderline migraine or headache, so you

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might just stay here in Eagle Arms on both
sides. So, let’s just see how far we get together.

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All that to say just stay in the moment, stay
with the sensations. And again, use that breath

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as energy. A couple more breaths here. Inhaling,
elbows up. Exhaling, fingertips out. Then

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slowly we’ll unravel and release. Bring the
palms to the tops of the thighs or the knees,

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whatever feels best and just take a moment
to notice how you feel. Notice the energy

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in the upper body. Relax your shoulders, keep
the heart soft and open. Then dropping the

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chin to the chest, breathe into the back of
the neck. Nice and slow, you can keep the

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eyes closed here. We’re going to draw circles
with the nose. So, if you practiced with me

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before, you know that I love this little move.
This is a great and simple tension buster.

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Really great to just work out the kinks in
the neck and make sure that the energy is

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flowing, the Prana, so that your stuff doesn’t
get too clogged up.

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So, take it in the opposite direction if you
haven’t already. And then when you feel satisfied,

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we’ll come back to center and we’ll send the
fingertips out. This time, drop the left arm

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underneath. Nice and slow, big long smooth
breaths as we come into Eagle Arms on the

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other side. So, maybe the palms come together,
maybe not. We inhale, fingertips up, elbows

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up. Exhale, fingertips out. Breathe. Shoulder
blades get a lot of love here as we breathe

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up into the upper back body. It’s kind of
redundant, “Up into the upper back body.”

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Keep it soft and sweet here, drop into your
breath. Relax your jaw. Let’s take on more

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full breath in and out. And then we softly
and slowly unravel and again, bring the palms

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to the tops of the thighs of the knees and
loop the shoulders a couple of times here.

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Just notice how you feel.

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Now, go a little freestyle on me. We can return
to the circles or maybe it’s just a back and

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forth in the neck, finding a softness and
a suppleness. It may seem kind of obvious,

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but it’s like sometimes you have a headache,
it’s just much easier to go pop that Advil

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or that ibuprofen and heal it that way. But
really, a little neck rolls, sorry, I was

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thinking about a memory. I always used to
say i-be-pro-fren, it’s i-byu-pro-fen. Anyway,

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my dad does it too.

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A little neck hygiene goes a long way for
headaches, so take a couple of freestyle moments

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here. Stick with your breath. Resist the urge
to clench. Keep it soft. Then we’ll come back

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to center, and we’re going to move into a
forward fold. So, we have a couple of options

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here, you can stay on your lift. This is really
great for the heart, so we want to get the

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blood flowing in the opposite direction and
we’ll talk about going upside down later.

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But this is just a nice way to start. So,
I’m going to send the legs out long. Nice

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and easy, maybe the hips stay lifted here,
we bring the heels hip width apart for this,

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no need to keep it all tight and peanut butter
and jelly and all that silliness. Keep it

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soft here, point and flex the feet even. Then
inhale. Lift up the fingertips, lift up through

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the armpit, chest, lift your heart, and exhale
nice and easy. We forward fold, bending the

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knees. Belly comes to the tops of the thighs
and we rest the weight of the head over and

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out.

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It is really nice to bring the head between
the legs, and I should mention that this is

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also quite nice in a chair, which we do in
our “Dorm Room Yoga” or “Yoga for Tight Spaces.”

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So, this is great if you’re staring at a computer
all day and you start to get that headache

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at your office or your desk from working on
your computer too long, or from just being

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inundated with stuff. This is a nice place
to come in your chair, or here now on your

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mat. We fold over and we breathe here, nice
long smooth deep breaths.

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Breathe into the back body. Relax your shoulders
down. If you’re a little more flexible, you

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have that space available, you might begin
to slide the heels out a little bit. But keep

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a softness, a buoyancy in the knees. So, we’re
wanting to create space and relieve tension.

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This alleviates some of the pressure in the
head as we bring the heart forward and the

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head down. Really wonderful for circulation
as well. Shoulders relaxed. Let’s take one

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more breath. And to come out, don’t rush it.
Nice and slow, we release the arms, tuck the

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chin into the chest, and slowly roll up through
the spine. Inhale in. And exhale out. Janu

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Sirsasana, taking the heart forward again.
This time, we’re going to bring the left heel

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in towards the center. Traditionally, we teach
about a fist’s worth of space between the

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heel and the thigh. I think for a restorative
practice like this, it’s whatever feels good.

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We draw a little bit of energy up through
the right hip crease, and the same thing.

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We inhale in. Head to knee pose is what this
is called, Janu Sirsasana, but I think for

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this we can keep a soft bend in the knee or
even a generous bend. So, we can come here.

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So, to each his own here. Breathing in the
side body, bringing the heart forward and

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letting the weight of the head relax over.
Let’s take three nice, long, smooth breaths

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here.

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So, come out of the posture, release the arms.
Again, tuck the chin into the chest and roll

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up slowly through the spine. So, often we
get headaches right from the compression in

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the spine, you can visualize all those disks
getting a little crowded and compressed and

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that affects our nerves, right? Which, of
course, brings on the pain. So, here in yoga,

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we’re just slowly working out the kinks, creating
a little space. So, it may seem like you’re

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not doing a lot, but I think this is quite
healing.

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So, now we’re going to bring the left foot
in. The left knee in to hug. Wrap your right

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elbow around that left knee and swim the fingertips
behind for a little love in the spine here.

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So, we’re not going for a cranking of a twist
here. You don’t even need to go here although

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you can. But again you can close your eyes
and visualize those disks. Visualize the spine

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as you sit up nice and tall and breathe nice,
long, smooth, sweeping breaths up and down

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the spine. Then we’ll gently release, and
switch and take that same little sequence

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on the other side. So, I draw my right heel
in. Janu Sirsasana, head to knee pose, nice

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and soft though as I reach the fingertips
up and exhale. Take it forward. The weight

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of the head relaxes over. And if your head
comes nowhere close to your knee, if you’re

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like, “Head to knee pose? What?” That’s okay.
Still allow a softness to come through the

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neck and shoulders and the weight of the head
to relax. It might just be here.

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Let’s take three breaths. Release the fingers,
the arms. We slowly roll up and take our twist

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on the other side. So, hug that right foot,
right knee in. Left elbow comes to hook the

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right knee. You sit up nice and tall, and
again, resist the urge to kind of crank into

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the posture here. We’re wanting to create
space nice and softly today. Let the nervous

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system chill out as we inhale. Think up. Exhale
into your twist. And then we gently release

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back to center. Awesome.

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Go ahead and hike that left heel up. We’re
going to cross the ankles and come to all

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fours. Continue with this little love for
the spine by coming into cat-cow. So, especially

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arching the back like a black Halloween cat
here as you come to all fours. Really great

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again for visualizing space between those
disks. Breathing in and out here and then

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you might find a little flow. So, you can
take your eyes off the video here for sure

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as you explore a little spinal flex. Also,
bringing just a little more blood to the upper

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body in this black Halloween cat pose as we
arch the spine and draw the navel up.

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Then we’ll transition to an extended child’s
pose by bringing the two big toes together

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and the knees nice and wide. Then send the
sit bones back and if you only have time for

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one kind of restorative pose a day, this might
be it, right? This is often a common resting

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posture in most active classes and just fantastic
for headaches. So, we keep the knees wide,

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fingertips reach out. We melt the heart down
and this is so awesome for headaches. Melting

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the heart and maybe even, got so relaxed there,
maybe even massaging the brow bones, that

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third eye center by rocking and rolling gently
from side to side. If you want to get real

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fancy, you can put a little tissue of lavender
oil on your mat or even on a block at this

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point. If you feel a headache coming on, this
is a great place to come beat it, and beat

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it, and beat it. Take a couple of quiet moments
to rest here, breathing into the back body.

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If the shoulders are tight, you can walk the
palms out a little bit wider. Choose to surrender

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here. Whatever gave you the headache, no need
to focus on it anymore. Choose to let go.

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Take one more deep breath here and then slowly
use your exhale to transition back to all

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fours. We’ll curl the toes under, stretch
the soles of the feet, and nice and easy roll

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up. So, we’re going to move into a handstand
prep which might seem a little counter-intuitive.

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And again, if you’re already kind of meeting
your migraine zone or everyone’s different

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right, you might skip this. Turn the lights
off, turn the video off and come into a Shavasana

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or even stay in that extended child’s pose
for your rest.

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Otherwise, we’re going to bring a little blood
to the brain. Our bodies are always moving

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in the same direction of gravity, so of course
we’re going to flip it and nourish and revitalize

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the upper body with an inversion. So, this
may not be in your practice yet. We have a

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video for handstand and I just love the handstand
prep. It’s just so awesome. Kicking your legs

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up in the air has its benefits for sure, but
we can start by dropping the elbows in line

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with the shoulders, interlacing the fingertips
and bringing the top of the head, the tip

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tops of the crown of the head to the earth,
cradling the back of the head with the hands.

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Please check out the foundations of this pose
for proper alignment and action if you want

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to grow a handstand practice. For now, we’ll
press into the elbows and just be here. Breathing,

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maybe closing the eyes, using the toes for
a little stability here. There’s a tendency

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to collapse the shoulders here, so press away
from the earth, almost as if you’re wanting

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to lift your head up. You can stay here or
you can begin to walk the knees out there

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and lift the sit bones up high. Breathing
here. And then like I said, if you have a

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handstand practice, you might begin to squeeze
one knee in towards the center. Did I say

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handstand, I meant headstand. Shoot. And then
the other, and then maybe lift up, or maybe

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you don’t. Again, it’s not really about the
fancy headstand here, it’s about getting a

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little nourishment to the brain. Take two
more breaths wherever you are.

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And then we’ll send the sit bones back, rest
the forehead down, and reach the fingertips

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around for Balasana. Take a breath or two
here, relax your shoulders. Then we’re going

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to slither into Shavasana from here. So, I
say, you can turn to look at me if you like,

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I say, slide the palms up, come on to your
belly. Keep a nice softness, stay low. No

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need to roll up here. And then check out this
fancy yoga move. It’s called turn right on

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to your side. Hug the knees into the chest,
take a moment here. Napasana. Also really

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great for circulation. If you feel like the
spine could use a little more love, you could

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peel the nose up to the knees for breath.
And then in your own time, find your release.

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So you can choreograph your own way to Shavasana.
You might take that blanket you had earlier

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and pillow the head or cover the eyes. In
fact, we’ll do this in our migraine specific

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video, but you might even bring the palms
together, just create a little bit of heat.

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Find your breath, that Prana, that energy.
Deep breath in. And on an exhale, bring the

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hands to the eyes. Thumbs to the temples.
And choose to let go of any stress, any tension,

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knowing the breath is a tool. The breath is
Prana, is energy to keep things moving and

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flowing. Shining a little light into the dark
places unclogging out any of those energy

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meridians that might have gotten a little
stuffed up.

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Perhaps you feel a little emotion here or
not. Just notice how you feel. You can stay

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here, hands on the head, or you can slowly
release the arms out to your Shavasana.

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So, there’s no outro video for this one today,
it’s all you. If time allows, stay here and

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breathe, giving yourself permission to do
absolutely nothing. Keeping the eyes closed

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for a little bit, replenishing and restoring.
Take good care. Namaste.

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