Headache After Yoga — Why Do They Happen and How to Prevent Them

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Yoga is supposed to be a healing path and relaxing form of exercise, but what can you do if you find yourself developing intense headaches after class?

There are several potential reasons you get headaches after yoga. Here are some possible causes and what you can do to get more enjoyment out of your next yoga session.

Dehydration Headaches​

dehydrated woman with headache

Dehydration is a leading cause of headaches after any type of exercise, and it's most common among hot yoga practitioners.

The most important thing you can do to prevent the onset of a yoga headache is drinking plenty of clear fluids in the hours leading up to your class. Avoid soda and caffeine as caffeine can trigger headaches.

It may also help to eat a banana before class as the potassium can prevent headaches.​ Some essential oils also can have a soothing effect.

Incorrect Alignment​

If you get a headache during or right after certain poses, the problem may be due to improper alignment. You may be bending your neck too far and pinching a nerve, for example.

If you experience headaches during specific poses, try asking your yoga instructor for help to make adjustments and change your approach.​

Muscle Tension​

muscle tension headache

Some people develop headaches because they hold too much tension in their muscles -- especially the shoulders -- during yoga.

Holding a lot of tension may cause you to cut off blood flow.

Stay present in the moment and focus on any feelings of stress or tension you may have so you can detect which poses create more tension. You will notice you are not relaxing into the pose if your breath is short or stifled.

As you learn to breathe easier, you will find you hold poses with less tension in your shoulders.​

Prepare Your Muscles​

woman stretching leg

If you're prone to headaches, especially during exercise, it can help to prepare your muscles before yoga class.

This is especially important if you spend long hours at a desk, which can wreak havoc on your posture and cause tension and strain in your neck and shoulders.

Try stretching your neck and shoulders daily by holding underneath a chair with your left hand while pulling your head to the right with your right hand.

Hold the position for a few seconds then switch hands.​

Low Blood Sugar​

girl testing blood sugar

Exercise generally reduces head pain due to the release of endorphins and boosted blood flow to the brain. A possible cause of headaches after yoga is low blood sugar.

Exercise on an empty stomach can cause your blood sugar levels to drop and your headache to worsen. Try eating a snack high in protein and low in carbs and fat before your class.

A diet low in processed foods can help with headaches in the long-run.​

Experiencing headaches after yoga can be discouraging and it may make you feel like giving up. The good news is your headaches probably have a simple cause and solution.

Take these steps before your next yoga class to lower the risk of developing head pain:​

  • Drink water for a few hours leading up to class.
  • Work on relieving tension in your shoulders as you pose.
  • Fight low blood sugar with a high-protein snack before class.

3 thoughts on “Headache After Yoga — Why Do They Happen and How to Prevent Them

  1. Gosh this is me to a tee. Shoulder tension, rushing to get to class so no food, rushing all day really dehydrated. Thanks for provide insight that I can truly action.

  2. I get headache after 3 to 4hrs after my yoga practice….the day i dont do yoga im fine.i have been practicing for few yrs now but unable to solve this.even when im swimming i do get headache.i do follow the above said 3 points..but unable to solve…

  3. Me too! I’ve been quite worried. Now I understand; I don’t eat breakfast and usually just grab a coffee before my yoga class! No more. Big glass of water on waking, then a handful of almonds should keep me going.

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