Orthostatic Hypotension and Yoga
Author: Richard Weil, MEd, CDE
Medical Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
Viewer Question: I sometimes feel dizzy while doing some yoga stretches where the head is lower than the heart (like downward facing dog). What types of exercise should you avoid when you have low blood pressure?
Fitness Expert's Response: The medical term for your condition is orthostatic hypotension. It typically occurs in situations like you are describing when there is a sudden change in posture, particularly so when the head rises from below the heart, but it can also happen from a supine or prone position when the head is level with the heart. The reason it happens is that circulation (blood pressure) isn't forceful enough to return adequate blood to the brain and so there is a moment of dizziness. The danger is that you can pass out, and so you need to take precautions to avoid the problem.