Yoga and Self-Massage for Headaches, Part Two: Yoga TUNE-UP ® BALL WORK

How can Yoga relieve tension headaches and even head certain migraines off at the pass?

There are infinite means by which yoga can positively transform the layers of our being. And of course all our layers or koshas, are interwoven and connected.

Specifically, our physical body, breath, thoughts, intuitive self become clearer so our inner light can shine through.

Your tension relief can be patiently dismantled through varied yogic approaches. Consistency is key; it will bring us closer to healthy states. I always tell my students that I’d rather they practiced 5-10 minutes a day than only once a week (even if that once-per-week is a longer time period.)

Self-Massage is Tonic for the Tissues

Yoga Tune-Up® Balls for self-massage and tension relief.

The sequence presented here is accessible and simple.  The Yoga Tune-Up® ball work targets tension headaches, although of course you will experience relief throughout your system.

Self-massage will unravel tightness often tangled in our fascia*. It is a means to consistently sustain the releases usually  experienced after working with a skilled massage therapist.

For over a decade I have used the Yoga Tune-Up® therapy balls as tools to smooth out habitual tension in my tissues. I love my massage therapist Theresa, and since I can’t ask her to move in with me I have a home-based method of home self-care.

I have shared these tools with my students across the life spectrum, from pregnant women to students in their 80s.

*For a thorough introduction to what we know about fascia, check out my teacher Jill Miller’s book The Roll Model, or this article by preeminent fascia guru Thomas Myers.

Yoga Tune-Up Ball® Practices for Headaches

Tension in upper back and neck.

Target: Splenius Capitus and Upper Trapezius . Splenius Capitus connects the base of the skull to the vertebrae in the neck and upper thorax. When one side acts singly, it causes the head to rotate and bend toward one side; together, each splenius capitus muscle brings the head into an upright position.

Splenius Capitus Muscle: The splenius capitis muscle is a broad, strap like muscle located in the back of the neck.
Rest and dissolve tension in the splenius capitus with Yoga Tune-Up Balls® in tote. My model did not want to leave this down-regulating posture!


Slowly rotate head left and right to feel the balls grip the skin and superficial fascia.
If it is impractical to get to the floor, you can place the balls as demonstrated and then gently corkscrew left and right into the tight places. One side at a time or simultaneously!

Tension in the temples

Target: Temporal Muscles. Temporal Muscles are one of several pairs of chewing muscles that are necessary for crushing and grinding objects between the molars. The muscle is a primary source of a headaches.

Temporal muscle in human model and it’s relationship to masseter.
Reclined temporalis massage.Gently move head, nodding yes and no, and open and close mouth to relieve tension.
You can also work between the masseter and temples with the balls without getting on the floor.

Tension in the Jaw

Target : Masseter.  The masseter is the thick rectangular muscle in the cheek that is one of four muscles of mastication, and considered the most powerful. As described here, stress and tension in my masseter led to earaches.

Smoothing out spasms in my masseter.


Check out our schedule of classes and workshop page for latest offerings including “Tonic for the Tissues: Yin, Roll and Relax”.

Splenius Capitus Image Attribution:By modified by Uwe Gille – Gray Image:Gray409.png, Public Domain,
Temporalis Image Attribution:Henry Vandyke Carter [Public domain] Wikimedia Commons. Anatomist90 [CC BY-SA 3.0 (]



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