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Strategic Use of Yoga Can Prevent Unwanted Vasovagal Syncope (Fainting)

Fainting or what is medically known as vasovagal syncope is not uncommon.

Feeling light headed, and actual fainting can occur in otherwise healthy individuals.

Fainting can occur after drops in blood pressure, or slowing of heart rate. These symptoms can come on suddenly in explicably (not as common), or be from standing too quickly, or being dehydrated, as well as from other reasons. .

General recommendations for those who faint are: 1. Take in extra water, 2. Increase salt intake (slightly), 3. Use isometric muscle contractions (like crossing your legs or tensing your butt!), 4. Do not bear down or hold your breath if you think you feel like you are going to faint.

Some women who take medications for blood pressure, can in turn, run the risk of running too low in pressure, and there are medication ways to reduce this.

Yoga was shown in a study by the authors Raj and Coffin in the January-February 2013 issue of Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases., to be an effective cure for those who have issues with fainting, and in a newer study called the LIVE-Yoga study published online in JACC: Clinical Electrophysiology, this was confirmed.

Regular 5 days a week of yoga practice over a year was studied as the treatment for fainting.

In this study yoga significantly reduced numbers of fainting episodes in women from ages 15 to 70 who suffered from this medical condition. Those who were treated with yoga had to be both willing and able to practice yoga. Those with medical reasons such as heart disease, medically untreated and significant hypertension, and those with neurologic disorders were not allowed to practice yoga in this study.

The researchers point out that yoga postures can enhance vascular and muscle tone, especially in the lower limbs.

Medically the practice of yoga breathing, relaxation and postures (asanas), can improve your autonomic nerve balance and increase the tone of the main vagus nerve. Yoga thus can help the response of c-mechanoreceptors, which then prevents from having the sequence of events that can lead to fainting or what is known medically as syncope.

This study showed that even after 6 weeks of yoga the clients had many fewer episodes of fainting, verses just following the usual care recommended by cardiologists. By 6 months of routine yoga practice the effects of yoga were even more beneficial.

At Hatha Yoga and Fitness we support the use of yoga for overall health and wellness, and recognize that there are many health benefits of yoga. As with all medical conditions, consult a health care provider before planning your fitness regimens.


Suzanne Trupin, MD, Board Certified Obstetrician and Gynecologist and owner of Women's Health Practice, Hada Cosmetic Medicine, and Hatha Yoga and Fitness

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