You heard from someone that Pranayama is good for the treatment of headache, backache, lack of concentration etc, read about it thoroughly in the internet and started doing Pranayama. After some days, you start feeling a little dizzy, and developed vomiting sensation and uneasiness. Sounds familiar? You may be affected with the side effects of Pranayama.
Pranayama side effects
If Pranayama is not done correctly, or if wrong type of pranayama is done, some of the side effects may start to occur –
- Feeling as if something is moving continuously around your closed eyes
- Lack of stability in thoughts
- Vomiting sensation (nausea)
- Uneasiness, easily excitable mind
- Breathing difficulty / worsening of asthma
- Constipation or diarrhoea
- Psychological imbalance, restlessness
- Worsening of depression
- Dryness of mouth
- Increase of internal fear, unstable mind, phobia (warning sign to immediately stop Pranayama).
- Excessive perspiration, salivation
- Variation in blood pressure and blood glucose levels
- Increase in stress level
- Lowered immunity
- Bodyache, back ache
- Blurred vision
Why do side effects occur?
Why it happens?
It may happen because of the following reasons –
1. Self therapy – Like self treatment with Ayurvedic medicine is dangerous, similarly, self treatment with Pranayama is also dangerous. Spend few pennies and catch an expert, learn it, do it, master it and win!
2. Closed room, without windows – Pranayama should be done in a well-ventilated room. There should be freshness in the air. If not, it may lead to breathing difficulty or it may interrupt free-thinking-process of the brain, leading to side effects.
What if your room does not have any windows at all? Go upstairs, go to open space, go to a ground, do it and win.
3. Hurried mind, lack of calmness – Note that, while explaining how to do pranayama, I have suggested to quit Pranayama for the day, if your mind is too unstable, or your mood is too upset. To reap maximum benefits of Pranayama, do it with a good mood, in case if you are depressed, buck yourself up, read a page of your favorite self help book, chat with your positive friends for five minutes, get back to happiness and positivity and then sit for Pranayama. If you can’t, then skip it for the day. There is always another day to fight back and to win. You will lose nothing. Be positive and be hopeful. 🙂
4. External noise – You do Pranayama to calm yourself, to concentrate more etc. But it does not help when your little daughter is shouting in the next room. (Happens with me many a times). In such a case, DO NOT plug your ears. But search for a quieter area, or give a new toy to your daughter.
5. Wrong sitting posture – We have learnt about benefits of sitting straight. In case you have back pain and can not sit straight, you will have to consult your expert to do a milder form of Pranayama. You may also want to look into these back pain relief tips.
Wrong posture may cause irregular flow of Prana (or vital – positive energy) through your body channels and may cause side effects listed above.
6. Over doing pranayama – Stick to the dosage of your doctor, when it comes to Ayurvedic medicines. Stick to the number of repetitions, when it comes to Yoga or Pranayama. Over-doing may cause your ‘Vata’ to go awry.
7. Doing it when very hungry – We have learnt that hunger should not be suppressed, as per Ayurvedic principles. If you are hungry and you do Pranayam, you will end up hurting your Agni – digestive fire, Pitta and Vata, leading to digestive issues, nausea, dizziness, blurred vision, migraine etc. If you are really hungry, go have some vegetable-fruit salad. Wait for a couple of hours, then do Pranayama.
8. Doing it soon after food – It may be that, you get free time, only after breakfast. But that should not encourage you to sit for Pranayama. It will cause harm to your Kapha, Pitta and Vata.
9. Too much concentration into between-the-eyebrow-area – Usually eyes are kept closed and you are asked to concentrate on Shringataka region. But concentrating too hard on that area may lead to dizziness.
First concentrate on the tip of the nose, gradually, over a period of several days, raise the concentration point to between-the-eyebrows-point.
10. Very Negative mindset – It may not be like, you are totally depressed. But you have the habit of finding faults in all the creatures on this earth. “What the heck this pranayama is going to do for my concentration? I am not sure if it is a good health exercise or just a waste of time?” If you are engulfed in such thoughts, better stay away from it.
11. Hurried activities after pranayama – Soon after pranayama, do not get up and start running here and there to get ready for office. Sit in the same place for at least 7 – 10 minutes, do meditation, prayer or contemplate on your priorities of the day, then slowly get back to your routine.
12. Wrong type of Pranayam for the Right You! For example, if you have kapha body type, then Sheetali pranayam might harm your system. Always consult your expert.
13. Problem with holding breath – Many types of Pranayama may require you to hold your breath for a specified time. But many may find it very difficult. In such cases, avoid the ones that you find tough and practice only the ones which are a lot easier, like simple Anuloma – Viloma – Pranayama.
14. Increase in hurrying, lack of concentration, phobia, uneasiness,anxiety, nervousness
These symptoms can occur when you are doing forceful, rigorous breathing exercise such as Kapalbhati. If you come across these symptoms, better to limit the time of Pranayama to just 5 minutes or completely stop the Pranayam.
15. Increased blood pressure
There is a wrong notion that Kapalbhati is useful to reduce belly fat and obesity. So, elderly people tend to do this very frequently. It is sadly, not true.
If the person has high blood pressure, then doing Kapal Bhati can further increase blood pressure and anxiety. Hence, it is best to avoid it during hypertension.
So, is Pranayama good? Of course it is good, it is safe, when it is done correctly, under the guidance of an able Yoga teacher.
But at times, it may yield some adverse effects, consult your Yoga teacher, get things sorted out and keep enjoying Pranayam.
16. Yawning during Pranayama
This can happen if you slept less during last night or is excessively tired.
If you yawn while doing a Pranayam, do not hold it back. Continue Yawning and finish it. Relax. Breathe normally for 1 minute and then resume doing Pranayam.
It is a very bad habit to withhold yawning under any circumstance. As per Ayurveda, stopping Yawning can lead to difficulty in breathing and other disorders.
Read related: The greatest Ayurvedic health secret – revealed!
Side effect of Adham Pranayama
Feeling drowsy and lack of energy after morning session of Adham pranayam.
Rookie mistake – Starting 2 pranayams together
Many people, who are recently introduced to pranayama, who have learnt doing them by watching TV, suddenly start doing 2 or 3 Pranayams from day 1.
For example, they start with anulom vilom and Kapal bhati, because some spiritual Guru said so on TV.
This can lead to dizziness, vomiting sensation, breathing difficulties and confusions.
In Ayurvedic terms, this type of hurried approach leads to imbalance of Udana Vata, Prana Vata and Sadhaka Pitta.
Pranayama for beginners
If you are a beginner, it is best to start this way.
1. For first 15 days, just sit straight, breathe normally and observe breathing for 3 minutes. That’s all.
2. For next 15 days, Do simple Pranayama that I have explained here or do Anulom Vilom pranayam for 1 minute.
3. For next 15 days, increase this Anulom Vilom pranayam for 2 – 3 minutes based on your comfort.
4. Only after this initial preparation for 6 – 8 weeks, you can think of adding one more pranayama to your schedule.
From health and Ayurvedic perspective, I would not recommend a pranayam schedule for more than 10 minutes per day.
The purpose of Pranayam is to get the mind concentrated and to get the body still and ready for meditation.
Once you achieve this, you should move on to meditation, Japa etc.