18 Side Effects of Pranayama and Solutions

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 –

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Lassitude
  • Lethargy
  • 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
  • Indigestion
  • 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
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. 

Phlegm during pranayam

When I do anulom vilom pranayam, I start getting phlegm in my mouth and have to spit the mucus. If I do it for 1 hour still the mucus comes out. 
Getting a little bit of phlegm in the mouth in the initial few days of Pranayama is very normal. If it is continuing, it indicates, as per Ayurveda, that you have increased Kapha Dosha in the throat / respiratory tract.
As a home remedy, mouth gargling with a mix of half a cup of water mixed with 2 teaspoons of fresh ginger juice and a teaspoon of honey once or twice a day, just before food for 7 – 10 days can be useful. 
Consider taking dinner before 9 pm. 
Consider avoiding curd, sweet foods and fried foods at night. (know why)
If things do not improve, you may need Ayurvedic medicines such as Kantakari Avaleha, Talisadi Churna etc. Consult your Ayurvedic doctor

Bad breath

Why do i feel smell in my mouth since the time i m doing kapalbhati and anulom vilom?
Due to rapid breathing, the phlegm from the respiratory tract gets mixed with saliva and move up and down. This causes bad smell problem. Having lime juice with ginger once a day should solve this problem.


Do the side effects of Pranayama go away on its own?

Pranayama if done in a hurried manner or wrong periods of inhalation, exhalation, or done in a room with poor ventilation or a wrong pranayama choice etc. can lead to many side effects such as headache, breathing difficulties, anxieties etc.

If you started Pranayama and started noticing some of the side effects just in a matter of 5 – 10 days, most of the side effects might go away on its own.

But if there are side effects that are caused due to wrong Pranayama techniques for a long period of several months, then mere stopping of such Pranayama might not be sufficient.

Read more about side effects of Pranayama – reasons and solutions

What to do under such circumstances?

Consult a Yoga master, stop the old Pranayama and start new Pranayama or Yoga exercises under her guidance.

If you cannot do that, you can just stop the Pranayama that you are currently doing.

If you feel compelled to some form of Pranayama, then you may want to follow this simple Pranayama technique.

Consider a good ventilated room, straight sitting pose, read thoroughly about inhaling, holding and exhaling periods etc. and try to correct your Pranayama methodology.

Pranayama is one among the 8 steps of spiritual elevation. So, if you have been too much attracted and oriented towards worldly matters, a self-analysis and increasing emphasis on –
living frugally,
cutting down on desires,
fasting once in 1-2 weeks,
cutting down / stopping non veg foods,
bhajan singing, Om chanting,
doing some form of religious / spiritual practice such as visiting a temple, reading holy books such as Shrimad Bhagavat Geeta,
helping needy people
Speaking only truth or at least avoiding lies
decreasing making false, unrealistic promises
waking up in Brahmi Muhurtha, (between 4-6 am) etc. can certainly minimize the adverse effects.  

Ayurvedic therapies and medicines: If there are side effects such as dizziness, increased blood pressure, nausea, breathlessness etc., Ayurvedic medicines for a short period of 4- 6 weeks can be useful. The choice of Ayurvedic medicine depends on the type and extent of side effects. 

77 thoughts on “18 Side Effects of Pranayama and Solutions”

  1. Good article, I was told to do Kapaalabhati 200 strokes I am 53 an epileptic don’t know what to do, dizziness lethargy stiff face, pl guide me, thank you for the valuable article.

    • It could be due to sinusitis or lack of proper ventilation, or your body and mind is not trained up to hold breath. Try an easier technique of Pranayama here – easyayurveda.com/2010/08/28/how-to-do-pranayama-a-simple-pranayama-technique/

  2. dear sir: I have been kapalbhati and anulom vilom pranayam from around December 2013 everyday for 10 and 13 minutes. But of late I have started to pick all the negative thoughts of my past acts (ones considered bad) which happened throughout my life long ago. I am developing anger towards those people and myself.and I am pondering over and over all these instances one by one. why am I getting these thoughts now after so long, could it be a “coming out of negative thoughts” out of the body, pl comment

  3. Very very good information , really great. I am always saying to people that don’t hold any yogic process directly. & people don’t understand. Your content is really helpful to understand that how danger the direction less yoga. I am really appreciate your efforts. Thanks.

  4. Hi i started to understand before two weeks that i can expand my energy through breathing ….and last week i practiced it ..and i fell a levitation to my legs and less to my rest of the body…after deep breathing..and then i get heat to my stomach and other places …still is not painfull but ive trying to understand what is happening and if this can go bad…i started doing it to connect the energy to all of my body with intention thinking ..it works but i read also the dangers of it..and i dont have anyone near me to have help from a teacher i live in a small island in greece and nowone is practicing here..thank you!!

  5. Thank you so much for the information! I myself started practicing Kapalbhati at my own two days ago( I did 50 exhales the first day and 75 the next).Under the night I felt that I had difficulty to breath, I had to control my breath conciously for roughly 2 hours before I could fall asleep again, otherwise it felt that I would be out of breath. I should have searched about side effects earlier, but I’m glad I found them now. I realized that pranayama is serious business and should be done properly with a yoga teacher in the beginning. But how do I get rid of the breathing problem, I still feel as if I have to control my breath all the time.

    • I would recommend doing 10 rounds of anulom vilom pranayama for 10 days, empty stomach, morning. If your symptoms do not improve, kindly consult a Yoga master directly.

  6. Hi, sleep for 8 hours at night. Apply any hair oil in the evening before sleep. Do not do any pranayama for at least a week time.

  7. Thanks for the information. I have been trained in Yoga & attended yoga classes near my home for almost 1 year. I started doing Anulom Vilom 15 mins & then 30 mins (4-8-16-2) & Sudarshan Kriya. Initially it worked and my blood pressure was going down & as a result my medication went down too but suddenly I started feeling head pressure & anxiety. I stopped doing Sudarshan Kriya & continued Anulom Vilom without holding breath but situation remained same. Now I don’t do pranayam but still have those head pressure, negative mindset & anxiety.I don’t think I was doing it wrong as I was taught the same technique & it was successful initially. Is it true that Paranayam does not suits everyone?

    • I can say that choosing right type of Pranayama is very important.
      In your case, Pitta balancing Pranayama like sheetali could be good.
      I do not recommend Pranayama for more than 10 minutes per day.

  8. Hello sir I have some problem during anolom vilom I need ur help pls I talk with u for need some basic information

  9. Hi am msc yoga student i practised kapalabati,sheethali,sheetkari,sadatanda and bastrika in a hury for our practical exams after that i feel nausea,dryness of mouth and depressed too….hw to get rid of these symptoms pls help me doctor

  10. Sir,

    Thank you very much for this beautiful article.Now I have two specific question.

    1.Is it OK to do pranayama in an a.c room?

    2.Is paranayama is a form of mediation also?

  11. Hi, Yoga and Pranayama can be very helpful to you. But in your case, you need to be very gradual.
    It will help you if you can consult a Yoga teacher directly. But here is planned schedule.

    First 1 month –
    a. Just 3 rounds of simple Pranayama – which can be finished in just 1 minute. As explained here –

    b. Just 3 asanas – for 1 minute each, whatever you are comfortable with.
    c. 10- 15 minutes of walking / jogging / cycling / any out door activities.

    For second month
    a. 2 minutes of Pranayama
    b. 5 asanasa
    c. 15 minutes of physical activity / games

    For third month
    a. 3 minutes of Pranayama
    b. 10 asanasa.
    c. 15 – 30 minutes of other physical activities.

    That’s all. Stick to this. Do not do pranayama for more than 3 – 5 minutes even after 3 months.
    Just increase the number of Asanas, as you start feeling more comfortable.
    All the best.

  12. Hi Dr, After I do alternate nostril breathing I start to see flashes of purple and violet light. This happens even if I am walking about. Its like a camera flash. Also I see dark purple shimmering sparkling tiny ball of light. Now I know that this breathing exercise can activate the third eye chakra. But I just want to do it for physical health benefits. Not any spiritual element. I dont want to activate my chakra as I have heard horror stories about this happening. Please can you advice. Many thanks. Meera.

  13. Hey…..I was doing pranayam two years back and I felt gud results and had cleared all my stomach problems but after sumtym I started to do it vigorously and felt all d bad effects of it and so finally stopped doing it .again now I started doing wid all correct procedure s and precautions but still I am getting affected by its side effects …Nd I am just worsening my conditions …I don’t know what to do . please help

  14. i feel dizziness,uneasiness of mind &vomiting sensation is it because of kapalbhati?how long will it take ti cure pls suggest me doctor!

  15. Hi All, Infact its very clear something wont suite our body just leave it..recent 3 days i had done course in art of leaving i felt it was quite difficult so i left do it…i feel simple and adjust to my body 2-3 minutes anulom vilom ..and 20 minutes meditation…with omkar …do watever you feel good….at most its all mind games

  16. Hi, Thyroid hormone abnormality seems not related with Vastrika.
    Better to limit Pranayama for just 5 – 10 minutes per day only.

  17. Sir I suffered from headache from 1 and a half years after doing pranayama at home. Now I am having Brahmi Vati, rajat bhasm and panchagavya ghrit. Are these medicines alright as they are prescribed by a doctor.

  18. If the lack of stability in thoughts started after you started Pranayama, then it is better to stop it and get 1 week pranayama training under a Yoga expert and restart.

  19. dear doctor

    i feel dizziness ness lost one month,

    when i move my head , i feel in balance.

    when my car goes high speed, i feel anxiety.

    when i move head down, i feel more dizzy

    i go to zim every day and do jogging 20 minutes, and weight lifts( very light) 40 minutes

  20. Hi,

    I started doing pranayam-kapalbathi and anulom vilom for past 3 to 4 days and see some pain in my chest and other internal organs near my lungs,dizziness,headache too .

  21. Hi,

    I did kapal bathi and ate a piece of sweet before an hour and after doing kapal bathi I gave ten minutes rest and ate my lunch after having my lunch I had nausea continuous and by night I got fever and it’s been four days still I have fever and not able to eat anything what ever I eat I feel like vomiting. And if I feel normal also if I ate something again I am getting fever. So should I go and see a doctor or it will get cured in coming days.

    Many thanks,

  22. I have migrain problem and sleep disorder from 15 years and tried so may ayurvedic medication, left so many food items nothing helping. I start doing pranayama like sudarshan kriya , anulom vilom , brahmari instead of improvement i could see it sleep and migrain got worst and pain killers are increased now. most of doctors when i visit they suggest nuerologst but i am afriad after seeing my sister’s condition when she got treatment which is nothing but sleeping pills. Within 1 year her wight is increased like any things with sugar bp. Any other suggestion from your side.

  23. Respected Sir,

    I observe that while focusing on my breath and doing deep breathing, there is a disturbance, panic , some uneasy feeling in the chest region and a very very agitated mind.
    Anulom vilom is bit ok .
    What can be wrong with deep breathing which is now globally suggested for achieving calmness?

    Best Regards,

    • Hi, it varies from person to person.
      In your case, better to stick to anulom and vilom till you are completely comfortable. Only after that, you can gradually increase the depth of breath, second by second.

  24. Hi, I had anxiety last month and depression. Have been taking pranic healing treatments. Did anulom vilom and kapalbhati twice in the last one week. Anxiety fears had led me to negative thinking however with treatments have been feeling better each day, brushed off negative thoughts n fears. Today morning did anulom vilom and kapalbhati. Since then have been feeling slow, lack of cohesion in thoughts and have to try to recall everything, as in, memory is not as super speed as before. Do you think it could be because of the pranayam I did?
    Thank you.

    • No. With anxiety, the level of confusion may vary due to food, the interaction, words, what we see, what we eat etc.

  25. Hi
    For 6 weeks I am doing pranayama everything was fine but for last 1 week feeling unbalanced from leg specially when I stand or walk and back of head. but for 1 week I am having seasonal allergies symptoms too.my question is that the imbalance feeling is due to yoga or something else??
    I am doing brastrika Kapal Bhati anulom bilom bhramari only for 10 minutes.


  26. Hi, just follow anulom and vilom for 5 minutes, 2 times a day, without taking much deep breaths.

  27. I hv been doing pranayam for last one month while doing bhastrika I got eye haemorrhage, what do you suggest .Should I stop doing pranayam altogether?

  28. I am dng kapaalbhati and anulom vilom for 3months and i have stopped it for one month..will dis really lead to imbalnce of hormones???and what pranayamam do we need to follow while we do fasting??

  29. When I do anlom vilom pranayam I start getting mucus in my mouth and have to spit the mucus…and if I do for 1 hour still the mucus comes out

    • As a home remedy, mouth gargling with a mix of half a cup of water mixed with 2 teaspoons of fresh ginger juice and a teaspoon of honey once or twice a day, just before food for 7 – 10 days can be useful.
      Consider taking dinner before 9 pm.
      Consider avoiding curd, sweet foods and fried foods at night.

    • Due to rapid breathing, the phlegm from the respiratory tract gets mixed with saliva and move up and down. This causes bad smell problem. Having lime juice with ginger once a day should solve this problem.

  30. Yes what above said is true. I tried sitting calm in a closed room and did pranayama. I am a beginner. Now suffering from cold (third day). Well said. Guru is required.

  31. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    I am doing yoga for gaining weight since last 3 months. I got good results. Then I started it for calming my mind. It calms my mind instantly. But I am feeling hyperactive sometimes. I am getting angry and then get an unusual happiness. Moreover, I am thinking too much. I am thinking over my past incidents a lot. I am getting hurt by those people who had hurt me once. I cut off all connection with them despite knowing that It’s all my past incidents. I was wondering why this is happening to me. After reading your vlog, I suspect that doing yoga may be a cause. Please, give me some advice. Is it all happening because of doing yoga? Is it possible?
    Nota bene: I’m doing ( naukasana, alulom vilom, tree pose, pawanmuktasana and warrior pose). I stutter sometimes when I get stressed. So, I did sinhasana and anulom vilom.

  32. Rayesh you must chant one round of vasudevaya mantra morning and evening it will help you. Meditation usually brings up old thoughts then they disappear I guess when you focus whilst doing pranayama it becomes like a kind of meditation. But be sure to chant if one doesn’t chant unnecessary problems may rise in mind.


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