Many of us are dealing with issues in our lives that impact our physical and mental wellbeing. One of those for me recently is vertigo. It’s something I’ve dealt with for many years and flares up bigtime on occasion. Usually, my triggers are times where I’m stressed, fighting a bug, or just generally overwhelmed. I know I’m not the only person that deals with vertigo, so I figured why not share my methods of adapting yoga for vertigo.
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What it vertigo feels like
If you haven’t experienced vertigo here’s the deal. Firstly, you are very lucky! Secondly, imagine standing still and just feeling like your head is on a roller coaster and you can’t stop. That’s vertigo. Remember when you were a kid and you’d go around in circles on the spot with your eyes closed, then try walking? Yeah, that’s got nothing on vertigo!
Yoga Poses for vertigo
The very first thing I want to get out the way is that there is no magic yoga pose to cure vertigo. Yeah, despite what you see online the truth is there just isn’t a yoga pose cure. Believe me, I’ve tried them all! As with all things that look too good to be true, the “5 poses to cure vertigo” are honestly bullcrap. There is the Epley maneuver which can help. Personally, this sometimes works for me. But it’s more of a taking the spinning from a 10 to a 4.
What I suggest is seeing a medical professional to get diagnosed and just trying some of the therapies out there. Like I mentioned previously, typically my vertigo flares when my immune system is struggling, or I am stressed out. But sometimes it can just be for no reason whatsoever. Joy!
Adapting yoga for vertigo
When you’re experiencing vertigo your body is telling you to slow down. Consider it a time to check-in and re-evaluate. How is your overall health? Is there anything you’ve been neglecting healthwise? Are your sleep and recovery good? Is like a bit stressful right now? Is there an underlying health cause for your vertigo?
Move, but move slowly. One of my class members was told NOT to do yoga as she had vertigo. What a bunch of hooey. You CAN still do yoga. Just move mindfully. It’s the analogy of if you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl. Honestly, this is the time to TRULY to find your yoga as a practice because you are forced to be mindful. The slightest fast movement means the world spins!
Because of the need to move more slowly, this is the time to change your practice. Yoga for vertigo may mean switching from a vinyasa slow to a grounding restorative class. Mindful movement with somatics, or a deep stretch with yin yoga. Remember there are many types of yoga pose practices. Yoga for vertigo means choosing somethings slow and grounding.
If you feel able to do standing asana practice adapting yoga for vertigo means using props. This could be a wall, chair, blocks, etc.
Practical applications in a yoga with vertigo practice
So we know to move slow, use props, and adapt our practice but how does this apply to actual practice?
- For poses on the floor that ask you to move your head. Don’t. Keep your head static instead.
- One of the major things that seem to aggravate vertigo is the transition from laying to seated. I have a post about mindfully going from the floor to seated which will help a lot with that, so check that out!
- Movements like cat cow could cause some issues so again, less movement of the head and perhaps less range of motion altogether.
- In poses that ask you to look up or a direction that exacerbates your vertigo, look the opposite way or remain straight ahead. You don’t have to look up!
- Most of the issues will come in the transitions between the poses, especially from the floor to standing to move slowly. Break the transition down. Stabilizing in the pose step-by-step.
Basically, all this culminates in SLOW DOWN and doing what feels right for your body. Which should be what we’re doing anyway. Mindful movement is key regardless of whether or not your have vertigo, but taking that extra bit of care when we’re feeling physically vulnerable is so important.
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- Have you had vertigo?
- What helps your vertigo?
- Do you struggle with balance?