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Ask the Expert: Aadil Palkhivala

Practice for deep and sound sleep.

By Aadil Palkhivala

I feel dizzy when I do Kapalabhati Pranayama (Skull Shining Breath) or Anuloma Pranayama (With the Flow Breath). Why does this happen?

Why? In brief, because you shouldn't be doing them! According to the ancient Indian science of Ayurveda, your nervous system is composed primarily of vata (air quality), pitta (fire quality), or kapha (water quality). Dizziness can be taken as a sign that the quality of your nervous system is out of balance.

Kapalabhati means "illumined forehead" or "light skull." This is because the practice of this pranayama sends an incredible amount of energy to the brain and increases its creative flow, or vata (air quality). It also increases the quality of fire moving from the pelvis up through the spine. Both results can throw a nervous system that's primarily vata completely out of balance and can create dizziness, nausea, and, in some cases, severe mental instability. My guess (because I haven't seen you in person) is that your nervous system is of a vata nature. Therefore, I suggest completely avoiding strong pranayama practices such as Bhastrika (Bellows Breath), Kapalabhati, and Anuloma. Instead, focus on Ujjayi Pranayama (Victorious Breath) without any Kumbhaka (Breath Retention). Also, gently perform Viloma II. (See a description of how to do this pranayama in the previous answer.)

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