Ask the Doctor

At the very end of yoga class you lie in this posture |shavasana – aka “corpse’s pose” – for 5 to 10 minutes.  I got extreme vertigo that didn’t fully resolve until 2 trips to a vestibular physical therapist… The other day I spoke with a colleague and she told me she had BBPV and started to explain it to me when I stopped her.  She then told me that it had gone away after treatment, but returned…after shavasana.  Why does this happen?

This is caused by BPPV—loose crystals in the inner ear.  In the shavasana yoga position, you lie flat on the floor facing up.  This head position puts loose crystals right above the opening to the ring-shaped spinning sensor, and it is easy for them to fall in.  This is particularly likely if your head is turned a bit toward the ear that has the loose crystals in it.  Another yoga position that can cause BPPV is downward dog

Our inner ears are designed to be kept in the upright head position.  Any time you are facing straight down or looking straight up at the ceiling, or tilt your head until it is at or beyond the horizontal, loose crystals can pour into the spinning sensor.  These positions are used frequently in yoga and so I often see yoga instructors and yoga enthusiasts with vertigo.   

It’s easy to avoid.  First, always use a big pillow when lying flat on your back.  This will tilt your head up off the horizontal plane and prevent the crystals from falling in.  Secondly, when you lie down, do it slowly, and arise from the ground slowly.  This will help keep crystals from sloshing into the wrong place.  If you know which ear is your “problem ear”, turn your head away from that ear when lying down or lifting your head.  You can also do the half somersault maneuver as your very last yoga position, which will remove crystals in the spinning sensor. 

Published by Vertigone

I translate the medical world of dizziness for non-medical people

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