Question: I am aware that I have low blood pressure. I enjoy doing yoga classes for the most part, but I sometimes experience dizziness and even a bit of nausea when coming out of some yoga poses like downward facing dog or standing forward bends. I often need to take breaks in my yoga classes to rest and readjust to the uncomfortable sensations. Do you have any tips or recommendations to reduce occurrence of the dizziness and nausea? many thanx
Answer: Low blood pressure (hypotension) is when the circulatory system encounters blood pressure that lower than average. When blood flows through arteries and veins, the walls of the vessels exert pressure back against the blood helping propel the blood through the circulatory system. If this pressure is low, the blood flow is less efficient in traveling to tissues and back to the heart.
When we invert the body such that the head is below heart level with low blood pressure, the blood readily accumulates in the head. When we lift the head, the blood rapidly exits the brain generating symptoms of dizziness and nausea.
In order to avoid these uncomfortable sensations, choose practices or transitions that are not rapid. Vinyasa and Power Yoga have rapid, repeating transitions from forward bends into back bends and to standing. These repetitive changes in head positions can create difficulties for those with low blood pressure. Consider exploring slower hatha flows that provide opportunities to slowly exit head inverted-type positions.
If you wish to continue with Vinyasa-style flows, you may need to take additional breaths between transitions to slowly reposition the head from below the heart level. For example, instead of coming directly up to standing from Uttanasana (standing forward bend), stop half way with hands on the shins or fingertips on the ground - enjoy a full breath as you expand the spine and readjust the blood flow - from there you can enjoy greater integrity of the spine with the following lift to standing.
Another good modification: instead of moving from Downward Facing dog right into a forward lunge or warrior pose, first slowly roll up into Vajrasana (thunderbolt pose - kneeing on the heels) - again, let the blood flow adjust and then transition towards the standing pose.
Keep exploring modifications so you can make your practice as enjoyable as possible. Make sure that you also monitor your low pressure condition with the guidance of a qualified health professional.
Expert Q & A provided by My Yoga Online teacher and Co-Founder, Kreg Weiss .