Feeling lightheadedness during Pranayama

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asked Oct 23, 2013 by awalia2k (140 points)
I'm male and am 51 years old. I work in banking environment.  Can I do pranayama like Kapalbhati and Anulom Vilom if I consume alcohol twice a week or so?  Are there really bad side effects to it if I do it.  I've just started doing pranayama for about a week now, Bhastrika - 2 mins, Anulom Vilom - 5 mins, Kapalbhati - 3 mins and Bhramri - 2 mins.  After I do this, I do feel lightheaded sometimes.  Please tell me what I'm doing wrong.  I live in Canada and weather is extremely cold during winter time and the windows are closed.  How can I manage to do these pranayams.  Can I do it with no ventilation.  I also have high blood pressure and I don't do the pranayams intensely, but rather moderately.  i do want to continue with Pranayamas as I feel it's really effective and it helps to lower down the b.p.  Please advise.  Thanks!

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answered Oct 24, 2013 by Editor (1,920 points)
I hope you are well and thanks for posting here the question. However, before I reply to your question, I would like to know your height and weight. If possible, blood cholesterol level and sugar level if already done of the past blood test and date of the test.  Your diet schedule will also help me to consider the issue properly.

Meanwhile, avoid doing both of pranayamas - bhastrika &  kapalbhati as they may be causing hyperventillation leading to light headedness, or do only one of bhastrika and kapalbhati. Keep continuing with Anulom Vilom and brahmari pranayamas.

Best Regards.
commented Oct 24, 2013 by awalia2k (140 points)
My height is 5'11" and weight is 195 lbs.  I haven't checked blood cholesterol level and sugar level.  Last year I checked and it was normal.  My diet is non-veg and veg.  Non-veg is about 3 times in a week.  I've done Kapalbhati before and I never felt lightheadedness.  It's only when I started Bhastrika for 2 minutes, that I have started feeling it.  I think you are absolutely right that it's hyperventilation because I'm trying to inhale very deeply sometimes.  What do you suggest, that should I cut off the deep inhale.  Kapalbhati I feel is very effective and it helps me in digestion and in losing weight.  Thanks for your response earlier.  I hope you answer all my questions regarding weather, indoors and what should be done.
commented Oct 25, 2013 by Editor (1,920 points)
I checked your Body Mass Index that was calculated as 27.2 which indicates that you are overweight which may be the cause of other disorders including high blood pressure.  I would also suggest you to restrict alcohol intake and non-veg diet and workout on reducing weight also, and discuss with your physician.

Continue with kapalbhati, anulom vilom and brahmari pranayamas and leave bhastrika.  You can continue in your room if it is clean and opportunity of short term ventillation is provided in the room, so that fresh air comes in at least one time in a day.  Room should not be congested.

Take three deep breathing before every kapalbhati session.

During kapalbhati, you have to focus on forceful exhalation only and initially, you need to keep practice upto 30-40 stroke which you can extend to 60 strokes.  You did not mention the values of blood pressure - systolic and diastolic so that I can consider more.

It would be better to do some loosening exercises and then relax and then do pranayamas followed by deep relaxation techniques.

Please feel free to write here for further clarification or if anything is missed.

Best Regards.
commented Oct 26, 2013 by awalia2k (140 points)
Thank you for your response.  I'm taking medication for my bloodpressure.  Some times it may go up to 130/90 or even 130/100.  You mentione that I should do Kapalbhati 30-40 strokes.  Is that all I do? or are you saying that one time continuation is between 30-40 stroke.  I do about 3 mins of Kapalbhati right now, but I want to do about upto 15 minutes after 2-3 months if that's okay.  I thought thak Kapalbhati should be done with moderate exhalation force and not forceful exhalation as you mentioned if someone has bp.  Can you please clarify on that? I'm very much confused now.  I also do asanas every other day which is very helpful to me at this stage.  During winter time in Canada the temperature goes very low to -20 and we are unable to open the windows and doors.  So, what should be done in these circumstances.  Should I leave it during winter time and continue again during summer.  Please advise.  I want to thank you again for all your excellent comments you provided to me.  Regards.
commented Nov 5, 2013 by Gulshan Kumar (16,490 points)

You can do kapalbhati as per your capacity and comfort zone. In kapalbhati, you need to focus on exhalation only and not on inhalation. First inhale and exhale fully three times, and then practice kapalbhati. If it causes problem, stop it.

The temperature being so low in winter, you can practice in closed room.  The only thing, I need to know as to what you do during winter; I am not aware if the room warmer burns the available oxygen in the room; that you need to consider.

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