Can you namaste your migraines away? A new, small study published in the journal Headache suggests that meditation may help relieve the intensity and duration of migraines.
Researchers from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center assigned 19 people with migraines either to standard medical care or to an eight-week program called mindfulness-based stress reduction, or MBSR, which incorporates mindfulness meditation and yoga. The MBSR group meditated for about 30 minutes a day.
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People who practiced meditation had less severe headaches and about 1.4 fewer migraines a months, though those effects weren’t statistically significant (likely due to the small sample size). But their headaches were significantly shorter—about 3 hours less per headache—than the control group’s.
“They were able to have a sense of personal control over their migraines,” says lead study author (and regular meditator) Rebecca Erwin Wells, MD, assistant professor of neurology at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. “It really makes us wonder if an intervention like meditation can change the way people interpret their pain.”
Stress is a known trigger for headaches, and mindfulness is a known combatant against stress. Several studies have shown that mindfulness meditation can curb stress responses, and one review in JAMA Internal Medicine found that it can help heal depression and anxiety about as effectively as antidepressants.
We’re squarely in the anti-sitting camp (have you heard it’s killing you?) but for better health in just five meditative steps with no side effects, we’ll make an exception: Sitting still has never been so good for you.