Avoiding Dizziness During Yoga Practice

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There are many people who complain of dizziness while performing Yogasanas. This is actually not something to be terrified as it is fairly common. Some practitioners however easily dismiss this as a sign of being unfit to practice Yoga. However, this is not true. This is in fact an opportunity for the practitioner to understand their body better when performing Yogasanas so that they can take the relevant precautions to avoid any mishaps.

There are many possible reasons for dizziness to occur during Yoga practice. Postures that can cause the reverse of blood flow rapidly is one of them. For example, rapidly standing up from the final posture of Uttanasana (standing forward bend) can cause deficiency of blood around the heart region as most of the blood flow downards to the lower parts of the body. Usually, a body with normal blood flow has quick reflexes to compensate this situation by increasing the heart rate and constricting blood vessels to boost the blood pressure. Sluggish reflexes however can lead to dizziness due to poor blood flow travelling from the heart to the head.

As in the case of the Uttanasana posture in the above, one can return to a half-lifted position and rest for a breath. Inhale, firm the legs' muscles in order to pump the blood upwards to the heart and then slowly lift the body up straight and breathe normally. For other postures that require forward bend, apply the same techniques or skip 'full forward bend only' move to half-lifting position and remain slightly longer. And as mentioned before, inhale and slowly lift the body up so that it gives the body reflexes some time to react. It is very important to remember to avoid sudden standing up from any bending posture or to get up in a rush from any laying down posture.

Locked solar plexus
One of the most common reasons for dizziness is a locked solar plexus. This is largely due to stress and bottled-up emotions. The seriousness depends on the duration of the suppression. One experiences dizziness and imbalance after a long stressful day of work because he/she experiences a blockage around the third-eye chakra.

In this fast-paced world today, giving oneself adequate period to de-stress is crucial. Everyone knows that when a rubber band is stretched too long, it is bound to break. This is the same for the human body as well. Take some time off to relax or find a good pair of ears (good friends or anyone whom you feel comfortable to talk with) to share your feelings and problems. It is said that stress is the root of all diseases.

Stress can also cause dizziness during Yoga practices. Therefore, after a long day, the practitioner should relax and rest for at least 1.5 hours to regain both mental and physical strength before delving into Yoga practice. Avoid practicing any asanas (Yoga postures) if you are going through emotional turbulence at this time. Instead, practicing breathing exercises or meditation may be useful to help you calm and quiet the mind to restore peace and harmony.

Physical conditions that may contribute to dizziness
E.g. Low blood pressure, high blood pressure (hypertension), low blood sugar, dehydration, inner ear imbalance, anaemia, insomnia, fatigue, vertigo, injuries, allergies, viral infections, or acute symptoms such as nausea, headache, diarrhea, etc. 

Consult your family doctor about your condition and seek for advice and treatment. Find an experience Yoga teacher who can guide you with appropriate Yoga techniques that are well-suited for your physical conditions.

Excess neck bending
There are four arteries around the neck region for blood circulation between the head and the body. Two carotid arteries are located in the front of the neck whlie the other two vetebral arteries are located in teh holes in cervical spine. During the extreme backwards-bending of the neck, the vertebral arteries are constricted. So, the passage of the carotid arteries become narrow and this can cause difficulties to compensate the blood flow to the brain.

This can be avoided by not bending the neck backwards excessively or you can also try lifting your chest a little bit more while bending backwards so that the upper body is bent instead of putting the whole force on the neck to achieve the final posture.

Overexertion and shallow breathing or deep breathing (hyperventilation)
When a practitioner pushes himself/herself too much to achieve a particular posture that their body is not prepared for, blood can rush to the head and tense the nerves in the brain, which will also result in dizziness.

Dizziness can also happen when the body lacks oxygen (especially around the brain and heart region). During shallow breathing, the lungs tend to expand and constrict faster to make sure there is adequate oxygen flow. At the same time, the heart is strained to increase the speed of blood flow sot hat the body receives enough oxygen. However, deep breathing can also cause dizziness. Oxygen deficiency is due to lack of carbon dioxide. After oxygen is combined with the haemoglobin to be carried around the body, it requires carbon dioxide to release the bondage in order to be used by the tissues, which increases blood pressure as well.

Therefore, practice Yogasanas according to your own pace. Your body must be comfortable throughout the session. Do not force yourself to achieve any posture demonstrated by the Yoga trainer if you feel uncomfortable with it because they may have mastered the posture, but you still have not. During practice, focus your awareness on your breathing pattern and adjust it to suit your body.

There are also times when closing the eyes can cause dizziness. Therefore, keeping one's eyes open during practice can reduce the feeling of discomfort.

Man's health is affected by the food he consumes. In the modern world today, man has gone too far astray in his eating habits and allowed many non-natural and unhealthy ingredients in his meals. These include those that have been devitalised, denatured and indigestible. How then can the body recharge with such nutrition-less items? The tongue craves for food items that are fried, overly-spiced, heavily flavoured, oily, salty, overly-salty or sweet, contain flavour enhancers and preservatives etc. These dishes actually harm the human organs and can contaminate the blood circulation, which will in turn affect the proper distribution of nutrition to the whole body.

Unhealthy eating patterns can also be the cause of dizziness. The portion of food intake and irregular eating habits can contribute to such condition. Therefore, it is important to choose your food wisely. Always opt for a healthy and natural diet. Eliminate artificial or refined food from your diet as much as you can.

Maintaining a healthy diet and good eating habits are important aspects in Yoga practice. Ensure that you do not consume any food 3 hours before practice as this can lead to indigestion, dizziness and other symptoms. If you are suffering from low blood sugar, just consume something light such as a banana, an apple or a few nuts within an hour before practice. Ensure that your body is constantly hydrated with fluid to avoid dehydration. However, do not consume large quantities of fluid before any practice session.

Prolonged breath retention of breath
It is important to have free flow of blood circulation and ample oxygen in the body. Retention is sometimes required during practice but holding the breath too long will lower the oxygen level and increase the carbon dioxide level, which can increase pressure in the chest that can burden the blood to circulate from all parts of the body back to the heart. Once the heart, upper chest and neck sense the shortage of blood volume being circulated, this will lead to lack of pressure in pumping up the blood to the head. This is when dizziness kicks in.

Every individual has their own capacity of breath retention. One should follow their own pace and feeling in coping with the retention. Do not force holding on to your breath once you feel discomfort. When dizziness or discomfort happens, slowly retreat to a relaxing pose or simple sitting position and breathe slowly or normally.

Alcohol and smoking
The consumption of alcohol can cause dehydration in the body. Dehydration is one of the characteristics that causes dizziness. Alcohol triggers the anti-diuretic hormone, which triggers a higher amount of urine to be discharged compared to the volume of liquid consumed. Alcohol also contains depressant that can lead to lethargy, headache and drop of blood sugar.

Smoking tobacco on the other hand is the cause for emphysema, a condition in which the air sacs of the lungs are damaged and enlarged. This will disturb the bonding of the gases with the red blood cells (haemoglobins) to be supplied to the entire body. Usually, only oxygen and carbon dioxide are supposed to be the only only molecules that are to be bound to the haemoglobin for transport around the body. In the case of smokers however, carbon monoxide will also be bound, which reduces the amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide to be carried around the body. This leads to shortness of breath, which is another reason for dizziness to occur when a Yoga practitioner tries to catch his/her breath since there will be insufficient oxygen circulating around the body.

It is better to abstain from alcoholism and smoking not only for the greater benefits in Yoga practice but also for one's overall health. Avoid excessive consumption of alcohol the night before the next morning's Yoga exercise.

In Yoga practice, safety management is very important. The tips illustrated in the above are to safeguard the practitioner from experiencing dizziness during their Yoga exercise. The main aim for Yoga practice is to unite man with nature, bringing peace and harmony to his body, mind and soul. Therefore, refrain from indulging in anything that violates one's natural existence. Pay attention to your body. Every sign and symptom is a message so that you have the opportunity to correct any internal imbalance.

Copyright © 2013 Sandhya Maarga Holistic Living Resources
Holistic Living Annex (JANUARY 2013)

1 Response for “ Avoiding Dizziness During Yoga Practice”

  1. Reshma G says:

    This was a very well-written article. Dizziness can be difficult to prevent at times during Yoga practice but it certainly can be minimized. I am a certified Yoga teacher myself and I always tell my students never to exert themselves in performing any asanas.


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