January 14, 2019
The most common thing people worry about when entering a yoga class as a newcomer is not letting out a fart during class (it's an internet sensation of sorts).
But there’s another fairly common occurrence yogis of all levels should know about and how to troubleshoot it: dizziness.
Whether you’re in a hot yoga class, or a regular vinyasa class, or in the midst of a vigorous flow or a standing posture, dizziness can kill your zen. There are five main reasons: hunger, dehydration, lack of balance, pacing and rhythm, and focus, Well and Good explains.
According to Mayo Clinic, dizziness is a term used to describe a range of sensations, such as feeling faint, woozy, weak or unsteady. Dizziness that creates the false sense that you or your surroundings are spinning or moving is called vertigo.
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While this lightheaded feeling can happen in any yoga class, or any fitness class for that matter, it is most likely to occur in an intense hot vinyasa flow class.
“When the yoga class is hot yoga, your blood vessels get dilated, and when your blood vessels get dilated, your blood pressure falls,” Dr. Nieca Goldberg, cardiologist and medical director of the women’s heart program at NYU Langone’s Joan H. Tisch Center for Women’s Health, tells Well and Good. “So the lightheadedness you’re getting may be due to low blood pressure.”
If you’re experiencing dizziness while deep breathing in yoga postures, it could be because you’re breathing out carbon dioxide faster than the body produces it, Roger Cole a certified yoga teacher and a research scientist specializing in the physiology of relaxation, sleep, and biological rhythms pens for Yoga Journal. The cure is to breathe more slowly or less deeply, he explains.
Similarly, standing up too quickly from a forward fold can cause so much blood to flow downhill into the legs and abdomen that too little blood fills the heart. Normally, reflexes quickly compensate for this by raising the heart rate and constricting blood vessels to raise pressure. But, if the reflexes are too sluggish, pressure will fall in the heart, chest, neck, and head, and you will feel dizzy, Cole explains.
He suggests three preventative actions: Contract the calf and thigh muscles strongly to squeeze blood from leg veins toward the heart, come up slowly to give reflexes time to respond and inhale while coming up.
According to Goldberg, the easiest ways to avoid dizziness is to plan ahead by drinking lots of water and having a light snack before stepping onto the mat.
If you’re getting these dizzy feelings frequently or fainting after class, it could be a sign of a bigger issue, and you should consult a doctor.