Recently, a new study, whose findings appear in the May edition of the journal of the American Academy of Neurology known as Neurology, explores the effects of adding yoga to the daily routine for better management of migraines.
More specifically, the researchers were interested in knowing whether specific yoga poses and styles can relieve a migraine when used in combination with the conventional medication for the health condition.
Rohit Bhatia, who is one of the authors of the study from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi, India and a member of the American Academy of Neurology, explains “Migraine is one of the most common headache disorders, but only about half the people taking medication for it get real relief,”
“The good news is that practicing something as simple and accessible as yoga may help much more than medications alone. And all you need is a mat.” He adds.
The findings of the study suggest that people who add yoga to their daily routine in order to manage migraines experienced them less frequently than before. In addition to lowered frequency, the migraines were also not as intense and less painful than before.
To reach this conclusion, the researchers recruited one hundred and fourteen people. All of these participants experienced episodic migraines four to fourteen times per month. After the recruiting, two divisions were made and the participants were assigned randomly.
The first group received the traditional treatment drugs for migraines while the second group received both the medication as well as guidance on how to add and perform certain yoga poses.
The second group was taught forms on yoga that included respiratory and relaxation exercises by a certified yoga instructor for one hour every three days per week for the first month of the study.
For the next two months, the participants were required to perform the learned yoga exercises at home for five days.
During the study period, both of the groups received the same level of medical attention and medication depending on the intensity of their migraines.
Participants were also given counseling on making changes in lifestyle such as diet, stress-management activities, maintaining sleeping patterns, and exercise that can potentially help with the frequency and intensity of their migraines.
Secondly, the participants were also asked to keep a record of how frequently their migraines occurred in this time period, the intensity of the migraine each time, and which medicine they took along with any changes that occurred.
After the study period, the researchers discovered that participants in both of the groups noticed improvements. However, the benefits were higher in the group that followed the guidelines of the doctors, took medicines, and did yoga as well.
The participants who did yoga reported a decrease in frequency and intensity of their migraines as well as an improvement in the effectiveness of the medicines used for managing the condition.
More precisely, the medication-only group saw a twelve percent decrease in their migraine frequency. On the other hand, the medication and yoga group had a forty-eight percent reduction in the frequency of their migraines.
In addition, the use of medication in people who did yoga also decreased by forty-seven percent while in the group of people who took only medicines the decrease was only twelve percent.
While these findings add to the medical literature corroborating the benefits of yoga and show it can also be beneficial for people who experience migraines, there are a few limitations.
The authors note that the results may not be as consistent since the information on changes in migraine were reported by the participants themselves. Secondly, the study period was only for three months.
Further investigation is needed in the future to know more about the benefits of yoga for migraines in the future.