Does Yoga Help or Cause Vertigo?

If you are someone who suffers from vertigo or finds that dizziness or potential nausea is constantly keeping you from living your life, maybe it’s time to look into potential ways to make it better and hopefully prevent it. Surprisingly, one of those ways happens to be through the practice of yoga.

Yoga is a beneficial practice that can help eliminate dizziness and feelings of being off-balance caused by vertigo. Through the practice of yoga, you can improve and foster your balance through different poses. However, there are some poses you should avoid, such as inverted poses.

If you are looking for a way to help the annoyance or pain caused by vertigo, trying out yoga as one of the ways to help can be something for you to look into. Keep reading below to find out what causes vertigo, how yoga can help with vertigo, and more information on what types of yoga you can practice without getting dizzy.

What Can Cause Vertigo?

While there are many different reasons why you can experience vertigo, it typically comes with a feeling of moving, swaying, or with the feeling of things around you moving. It isn’t pleasant, and many people have many symptoms other than dizziness that can make it feel even worse. So, finding a way to cope and improve your feelings of balance is important.

If you are concerned that you have vertigo and it impacts your day-to-day life, it is best to consult a healthcare practitioner so you know what you can do to avoid it and manage it.

Here are some of the main causes of vertigo and how it can occur:

Here are the less common but still possible reasons why vertigo can occur:

  • Stroke
  • Brain tumors
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Migraines
  • Trauma
  • Uneven pressures between the ears

Physiologic vertigo can also be caused after being exposed to toxic chemicals or after being on a ship. Whatever the cause is, however, you should always consult a healthcare practitioner to fully understand what you need to do to help lessen the impacts of your vertigo.

Note: This article is suggestive and should not be used in place of medical advice.

How Can Yoga Help With Vertigo?

With vertigo being one of the kinds of dizziness people can have in their life, being able to restore balance to your ears, vision, and physical feelings that alert the body where it is in space is important in order to reduce feelings of dizziness and help vertigo.

Through yoga, you can combine those three factors and improve their interaction to overall improve your balance. By helping the body improve its balance, visual focus, movement and body alignment, and coordination, you can help reduce feelings of dizziness, including that caused by vertigo.

With balance being a more complex system than expected, it is important to practice the three main strategies to help foster and improve visual focus and physical alignment, which ultimately results in balance.

These three main strategies can be improved through a yoga practice, and they are:

  • Ankle strategy: This refers to how your ankle joint maintains your center of mass.
  • Hip strategy: This refers to how your hip joint can move your center of mass either forward and backward.
  • Steeping strategy: This refers to how you can move your center of mass away from your body.

By using yoga to improve these strategies that overall determine your balance, you can, as a result, improve your visual focus and physical alignment so you can reduce your dizziness.

Types of Yoga to Help With Vertigo

There are different kinds of yoga that can help with vertigo, but overall, there are two important factors to consider to make sure that you do it both properly and in a way that will reduce your vertigo.

The two factors you should consider are:

  • Your breathing: By practicing pranayama or controlled breathing techniques throughout your yoga practice or even meditation, you will help your body relax and reduce stress and anxiety. Since stress can actually make vertigo worse or be triggered in the first place, this is important. This breathing can be practiced in meditative or cultural asanas such as physical or relaxative.
  • Your stress: Since high-stress levels can trigger people with vertigo, giving yourself space and quietness to practice yoga is important to ensure it helps you. Through doing meditation before your yoga practice, you can reduce your stress levels for both the time being and for the rest of your day.

While you keep those in mind, here is a little more information on the different types of yoga that were mentioned above that would be best for reducing dizziness caused by vertigo.

Keep in mind that these practices are slower and more focused on your well-being and less about being a physical exercise.

  • Meditative yoga: This yoga is performed in an unforced and relaxed way. Through deep, controlled breathing and a free mental attitude, you can benefit from this type of yoga. One of the best poses to do is the corpse pose (Sava Asana), where you lay flat on your back. As you feel relaxed, you will begin to enter into a meditative state.
  • Cultural asana: This is a yoga practice that can be done daily, as it promotes proper exercise, posture, and overall well-being. This is divided into two different types, physical and relaxative asanas. Physical asana is focused more on the body, as movements may involve stretching the spine and using all of your body’s muscles. Relaxative asana is focused on letting the mind be free of any type of tension.

Here is a guided yoga session that you can watch that is made for people who have vertigo, but this is not the only one:

Overall, it is best to keep it slow and controlled. Since yoga requires a lot of balance and you may not have much at the beginning or because of your vertigo, try to move slow as often as possible. To hear more tips you should consider or utilize while practicing yoga for vertigo, as well as different poses you should avoid, see the sections below.

Tips for Practicing Yoga for Vertigo

If you are either having trouble completing a yoga practice, want to make sure you do it in the best way possible, and use it to help your vertigo, here are a few tips that will ensure you remain safe and reduce your dizziness:

  • Remember to take it slow. It is important, especially for someone with vertigo, to take it as slow as possible through each pose. Do not feel the need to move quickly, and if needed, you either come out of a pose early or stay in it longer.
  • Use a wall. If your balance is bad, practice doing yoga near a wall so you can either lean up against it or place your hand on it. You can also use a chair for balance as the back of it can work just as a balance bar would.
  • Take deep and slow breaths. As you move throughout your practice, take long, slow, deep breaths as this will keep you relaxed and force you to relax your facial and jaw muscles. In a way, this also helps keep stress at bay.
  • Go barefoot and use a yoga mat. If you have slippery floors or are worried about balance, go ahead and do it in your bare feet. Even better if you use a yoga mat because this will provide your toes with a place to grip and a softer place for you to sit.
  • Use a yoga block. If you have trouble sitting on the ground, you can use a yoga block or even a sitting pillow to provide you with that extra support and height. You can always sit on a couch or chair for meditation exercises if it causes you more pain to bend down and sit or lay on the ground.
  • Do not push it, and only do what feels natural. Yoga is just like anything new you would take up, and it takes practice. If you have never done it before, you may feel intimidated by the flexibility and balance you see some yogis amounting to. Do not worry! With time and patience, your body will be able to do poses more effortlessly. For now, be gentle with yourself and be happy with where you are at.

Best Yoga Poses You Can Do for Vertigo

If you want to create your own yoga practice, all you have to do is choose a handful of poses, complete them for a certain number of slow and deep breaths and repeat for as long or as short as you want.

Here are some poses you can incorporate:

  • Forward Bend
  • Half Waist Bend
  • Triangle Pose
  • Tree Pose
  • Warrior Pose
  • Mountain Pose
  • Side Angle Pose
  • Corpse Pose
  • Bridge Pose
  • Camel Pose
  • Supported Bridge
  • Child’s Pose
  • Head of the Cow
  • The Rising Sun Pose
  • Lying Down Big Toe Pose
  • Staff Pose
  • Saddle Pose
  • Pigeon Pose

Feel free to choose from this list or venture off into other ones. Remember, the key is to do as much as your body can. If you are having trouble with your balance, either stick to poses done on the ground or use a wall or a chair for help.

Also, keep in mind what you should avoid as well as some tips to avoid getting dizzy. This is all mentioned below. Before you pick from the list above, keep reading so you can complete your practice in the best way possible for your vertigo.

What Yoga Poses Should I Avoid?

While the relaxing and balance-focused practice of yoga can help with your dizziness and your vertigo, there are some poses that you want to avoid or take slow in order to ensure that yoga does not, in turn, cause your vertigo to occur.

Due to the fact that vertigo can be caused by Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo, which is when crystals in the inner ear become dislodged and stimulate improper balance nerves within the ear, certain head movements can actually trigger this and cause dizzy spells to occur.

With that being said, it is possible that both head trauma or yoga poses can trigger dizziness based on the movements that were taken. To avoid this, you should avoid inverted and upward-facing positions.

  • Inverted yoga poses: These poses occur when your heart is above your head, so anything where your head is closer to the ground than your heart is. This includes the downward dog, headstands, and anything where you are upside down, etc.
  • Upward-facing poses. These poses include the upward-facing dog.

The good news is, these poses can be avoided easily, and they are not a reason to rule out yoga altogether as it has many benefits for helping with your balance.

Why Do Some Yoga Poses Make You Dizzy?

If you have just started practicing yoga or have heard of friends you know experiencing dizzy spells during their yoga practice, you may be worried that it could happen to you. So, it is best to know how this can happen.

Additionally, you can also figure out how to avoid it, specifically by not doing the two kinds of poses mentioned above, inverted and upward-facing poses. Keep reading to find out why these poses can make you dizzy and later on learn about how you can avoid getting dizzy or triggering your vertigo during your practice.

You Are Upside Down

Our bodies are not used to being upside down on a day-to-day basis; that is the reason why being upside down causes your body to react weirdly. By practicing different types of inversions in poses such as handstands or forearm stands, you may experience blood rushing to your head fairly quickly when you bend over or come out of the pose, which can lead to vertigo or feelings of dizziness.

Additionally, by quickly moving out of this pose without resting first in a child’s pose, the blood will rush back to your body too quickly. When this happens, an uncomfortable pressure can happen, and this could result in feelings of dizziness.

While it may be best to avoid these poses, you can also practice them very slowly, ensuring that you move out of them in a way that does not flip your body too quickly. As you do, check how you’re feeling throughout to make sure you are okay with the movements. More ways to avoid feeling dizzy will be mentioned in the next section.

Your Blood Pressure Is Rising

In addition to being upside down, any type of inversion, even a backbend, can make your blood pressure rise. When this happens, you could experience feelings of vertigo. The same can happen if it lowers, which will be mentioned later on.

This is especially true for those with naturally high blood pressure. If you are not on medication to deal with that, you should consult a doctor as something more serious could occur.

You Are Moving Too Fast

If you are practicing an inverted pose, it is essential that you move out of it very slowly. When you stand up quickly or come out of an inversion too fast, the rush of blood throughout the body can leave you feeling a little off and dizzy after.

Try taking your time and moving out of poses as slowly as you can, and always use a child’s pose as a buffer to make sure you do not feel too dizzy. Remember, yoga is meant to be relaxing and not rushed, so even if you are behind in poses, go at your own pace.

If you are unfamiliar with a child’s pose, here is a video explaining to you what it is and how to do it:

You Are Dehydrated

Drinking water is especially important while you are exercising and moving your body. Doing yoga or any form of exercise for that matter while you are dehydrated can result in unstable blood pressure and possible vertigo.

Make sure that you are drinking a good amount of water based on your needs throughout the day, and make sure that you are hydrating throughout the practice as needed.

You Forgot to Eat

If you are hungry and tried doing yoga or decided to skip breakfast before your morning flow, this could be the underlying cause of your dizziness. Without the energy needed to keep you moving throughout your practice, your body won’t be able to keep up. As a result, dizziness and potential nausea can make your practice much worse than it should be.

You Are Too Hot

While there are many different benefits of doing hot yoga, you should always be aware of how your body feels at the moment. When you first begin, it will always feel very hot, but you will begin to adjust as time progresses. Nonetheless, when the room you are in is hot, your blood pressure will fall. As a result, you can begin to feel dizzy or lightheaded as a result of the heat.

Additionally, if you are also hungry or dehydrated, combining that with the fact you are sitting in the heat can make you feel a lot more off-centered.

You Are Standing

The transition from lying down to sitting to standing can also cause your blood pressure to drop. When you stand up, and you feel lightheaded, this may be why. So making sure you take all the precautions you can is important, so the simple movement of standing does not affect you.

How Can I Avoid Feeling Dizzy in Yoga?

As mentioned above, there can be plenty of reasons why you are getting dizzy or triggering your vertigo in yoga. While you may already have gained some insight on the best ways to avoid this, we have put together an easy to follow list for you to ensure that you are doing everything you can to keep your yoga practice relaxing and beneficial for your health, well-being, and avoid vertigo altogether.

  • Move slowly. Take your time and really spend time focusing on how you feel as you go through each of the movements. Yoga is not meant to be rushed, so move slowly and remember to stop any time if you need to.
  • Hydrate prior to yoga. Drink lots of water before your yoga practice; this can help you avoid feeling dizzy even if you move too fast or your blood pressure changes.
  • Eat prior to your yoga practice. Make sure to eat a hearty breakfast before your practice. While you should leave a little time between your breakfast and yoga, it’s important to fuel your body before any kind of exercise so you have the energy to complete it.
  • Stay hydrated throughout your yoga practice. Keep water next to you during your yoga practice. When needed, take a break to have a sip or two of water. If you are in a class, the instructor does not mind if you need to break a pose to have a sip.
  • Avoid inversions. If you are especially prone to dizziness or are using yoga at a time you feel your vertigo strongly, it may be best to avoid all inverted poses, which are poses that include your heart being above your head.
  • Add in a child’s pose. If you are switching between positions, either from lying down to sitting or sitting to standing, it is best to add in a child’s pose in between. By doing this, you allow your body a time to adjust to the change in positions. You should also add a child’s pose if you go from an inverted position to sitting or standing upright.
  • Avoid hot yoga. If you are worried about getting dizzy or are new to yoga, you may want to avoid hot yoga at first. Nonetheless, you are still safe to try it out if you wish, just stay very hydrated and take breaks as needed.
  • Assess how you feel. Always listen to your body. If you begin to feel light-headed or dizzy, take a break. Sit in a child’s pose, or just sit on your mat and have some water. You don’t want to push it to an unsafe place or trigger your vertigo, so ensure that you pay attention to when your body needs a second to recoup.
  • Do yoga at home. If you are worried that you may be too slow or have too many positions you want to avoid, doing yoga at home is always a great idea. You can put together your own flow or find videos online that you can follow at your own pace.

Overall, you want to make sure that you are only benefiting your body through the practice of yoga and not causing any harm or, in your case, vertigo.

Should I Do Yoga to Help With Vertigo?

If you are left feeling a little confused after we assessed how yoga could help your vertigo, but certain poses may also bring on your vertigo or feelings of dizziness, we have an answer for you.

Yes! Trying out yoga as a way to bring your center of mass back to center, improve your balance, relax your body, and get rid of stress is a great idea if you have vertigo. By doing this frequently, this will become easier, more natural, and you will know what you should and shouldn’t do in order to feel great and avoid dizziness throughout.

With that being said, keep in mind all of the things we mentioned about what you should avoid, how to make the practice easier, tips to make sure you have a relaxing and dizziness free practice, and overall, to avoid triggering your vertigo.

However, it is up to you, so if you try out yoga and feel that it is not helping, it may not be for you, or you may need to opt for a meditative yoga practice or just meditation that is much slower.

Final Thoughts

With balance being one of those complex systems that depends on a multitude of things, dizziness and vertigo are not uncommon. With that said, you probably want to find different ways in order to keep your vertigo in check and avoid dizziness altogether, and yoga, if done right, can be perfect for that.

Through the visual focus and physical alignment that you need in yoga, you can improve your balance and coordination, as well as decrease your stress that can help you with your vertigo.

However, you should keep in mind that you should avoid moving too fast and use a chair or a wall if you are worried about your balance because the last thing you want is to trigger your vertigo. Although, if done in a slow, controlled way, you can find many benefits within yoga practice that can benefit your vertigo.

Sources

Sita

Mother of three and Yogi of 20+ years and 200 Hour Certified Yoga Teacher. I am also a Certified Thai massage therapist and I have taught Gymnastics for more than 10 years. In the last couple of years, I've been a big promotor of intermittent fasting.

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