Feeling sick after yoga

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Bernie
Posts: 1179
Joined: Sat Sep 23, 2006 2:25 am
Location: Vancouver

Feeling sick after yoga

Post by Bernie »

I was recently asked the following question:
  • I love yoga but always feel sick after. I have tried to avoid certain poses and even avoid laying down altogether. My husband said I should stop doing yoga but there must be a better solution. I wonder if I should try motion sickness pills. Do you know if this would help?

The short answer is “I don't know,. But, before trying any medication, I would rather figure out what is causing your sick feeling. It sounds like nausea. Is that correct? Of course it is not possible to diagnose you remotely and I am not a doctor or therapist. Ideally, a therapist would look at your practice, ask about what is happening in your life right now, check into what food you are eating, levels of stress, how long this has been happening, does it happen at other times in your life, in which postures it is most likely to arise, do you have any inner ear infection or history of balance problems, etc. All I can suggest from afar is that you look at some known causes of nausea and that “sick feeling, during yoga practices: things like - movements of the head and neck, breathing patterns, and arm positions.

For some students, pressure on the vagus nerve can generate the systems you describe and simple modifications to the posture can relieve these. The vagus nerve runs from the neck into the chest (it is the 10th cranial nerve). Certain arm movements or neck and head movements could put a stress on the vagus nerve, so I would suggest you experiment with different movements. Avoid neck movements (twists, sidebands, flexions or extensions) for a while and see if that eliminates the feeling. In other words, try to keep the head neutral in all positions.

Another reason reducing neck movements could help is that, for some people, certain neck movement can compress the vertebral arteries which run through the cervical spine into the brain. Compression of these arteries reduce blood flow into the brain, which as you can imagine, is not good.

Nausea can also arise from a disconnect between what the ears sense and the eyes see, so keeping your eyes open may be a good idea for you during shavasana or any lying down postures.

The breath could also be investigated. Are you holding the breath at any time or reducing it too much or breathing irregularly or too forcefully? This can affect you blood chemistry with symptoms such as lightheadedness or nausea, again for some people.

Beware of medical advise via the internet and that includes from me! I would suggest you talk to your yoga teacher and ask her to watch how you practice. If the symptoms persist, you might consider seeking more professional guidance from a therapist or doctor. Certainly, yoga is not meant to generate these feelings but with proper guidance I am sure you can find a way to practice that its healthy and healing for you.

Good luck!
Bernie
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