Yoga can help half the number of headaches migraine sufferers experience, study shows

Yoga can help to overcome migraines, a study has shown, as the meditative technique almost halved the number of headaches sufferers experienced.

Researchers found that relaxation exercises were more effective at reducing the frequency and intensity of headaches than prescription medication alone.

Half of the 114 people involved in the three month study were given only medication to relieve their symptoms, while the other half used pills and regularly practiced yoga.

All of the participants, aged between 18 and 50, suffered from episodic migraine- defined as experiencing between four to 14 headaches per month.

The yoga group were initially taught breathing and relaxation postures in hourly sessions three days a week for a month, before practicing at home independently for five days a week for two months.

Throughout the study, they were asked to note the duration and severity of their headaches in a diary along with any medication they took.

The yoga group had a 48 per cent reduction in headache frequency, as they started with an average of 9.1 headaches per month and ended experiencing 4.7 per month.

However, the medication-only group reported a 12 percent decrease, initially having an average of 7.7 headaches per month and 6.8 at the end of the three months. 

The average number of pills taken by those who practiced yoga almost halved over the study, compared to a 12 per cent decrease in the medication only group.

The research, published in Neurology, suggests that adding yoga to a routine of prescribed medication for migraine relief is better than relying solely on pills.

Dr Rohit Bhatia, the study lead author at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi, India, said: “Migraine is one of the most common headache disorders, but only about half the people taking medication for it get relief.

“The good news is that practising something as simple and accessible as yoga may help much more than medications alone. And all you need is a mat.” 

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