Ask the Yogi: Is it normal to get lightheaded in yoga?

dizzy spiral imageQ: I was in a forward bend and when I came up, I felt light-headed like I was going to pass out. I did not feint and the feeling went away, but it made me worried. Is this normal to feel in yoga?

A: There are several things that can cause us to feel temporarily light-headed. Some people get this feeling if they stand up fast from a seated position. This is caused by the sudden change in blood pressure from the seated to the standing position and it has a fancy sounding medical term called: orthostatic hypotension. What a mouthful.

Yoga is filled with plenty of situations where a person is asked to move from one position to another somewhat quickly. If standing up from a seated position can cause a dizzy spell, just think what standing up from a forward bend can do to blood pressure. Yet, not everyone in yoga feels this kind of issue.

The best thing for you situation is to ask your doctor about your symptoms. If necessary, your doctor can order tests to make sure you are okay. Once you are certain that there is not an underlying problem you can learn this technique to help you with this issue.

This technique is useful in a forward bend or any other pose where you have had your head lower than your heart level.

Core Active Forward Bend Exit

  • From your forward bend position, press your weight onto your heels and bend your knees slightly.
  • Lift your chin upward so that you are looking forward.
  • Place your arms up on your bent knees and use your arms to help pull your chest forward so your spine is long and your low back curves toward your navel.

illustration of forward bend exit

  • Pull in your lower abdomen firmly toward your spine and keep it tense
  • Bending through your knees, exhale and slowly lift upward from the squatting position. If needed you can place your hands on your knees a few moments before straightening all the way up.

The above method works if you keep your abdomen actively pulled in as you are lifting upward. Your abdominal muscles will act to keep your blood pressure more normal and prevent the blood from rushing away from your head. Once you get used to this method it will become easier and you will no longer be bothered by the ‘forward bend head rush’ that has troubled you.

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