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There may be few things in life that are worse than a migraine. Anyone who’s had one knows it’s not a simple headache — this pulsating feeling can literally make it seem like the world is spinning around you, and that your head is about to explode.
The usual routine for dealing with one goes a little something like this: reach for the pain meds, turn off all the lights, draw the blackout curtains, and just hide from the world until it goes away.
But now researchers are suggesting adding another step to your migraine treatment regimen: do some yoga. No, we’re not kidding.
According to a study published in Neurology, doing yoga in addition to your regularly prescribed migraine treatment care may be more effective than medication alone. The findings suggest that people who do yoga may suffer from the pounding headaches less often, and decrease the episodes’ duration and pain levels.
For the study, researchers split up 114 people into two groups: one that just received medicine for their migraines, and one that did yoga in addition to receiving pain pills. The yoga group did a one-hour routine that included breathing and relaxation exercises.
Those who regularly did a downward dog went from having an average of nine headaches per month to just under five, a 48 percent reduction. The medication-only group only saw a 12 percent drop.
“Our results show that yoga can reduce not just the pain, but also the treatment cost of migraines,” study author Rohit Bhatia, M.D., D.M., D.N.B., of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi, India, and a member of the American Academy of Neurology, said in a release. “That can be a real game changer, especially for people who struggle to afford their medication. Medications are usually prescribed first, and some can be expensive.”