Side effects - Websites and articles

Contraindications of Yoga. Marie Carrico. IDEA Health & Fitness Source, Nov-Dec 1998, pp.34-43.

"The danger in working with an untrained yoga teacher lies in the unrecognized power of the practices to bring about the uncontrolled released of fears, illnesses, sexual attachment and terrifying archetypal formations from the unconscious, just like the opening of Pandora's box."

"What is Yoga : The term Yoga is derived from the Sanskrit root ‘yug’ which means ‘to join’. Its signify union between the individual soul (jivatma) and the universal soul (paramatma). Yoga is the Science that teaches the technique of joining the human spirit with God which is the Divine Science that separates the Jiva from the exceptional world of sense objects and relates him with the Ananta Ananda (Infinite Bliss), Parama Shanti (Supreme Peace), joy of an Akhanda character and Power that are intrinsic quality of the Absolute."

"The negative side effects of yoga are not always physical. Mental instability can also be a side effect of practicing too much yoga or practicing it incorrectly. Some negative, and severe, side effects can include pseudo death, pseudo psychosis, confusion, increased anxiety, panic attacks, suicidal patterns, depression, homicidal urges, and feelings to self-mutilate. Headaches, temporary blindness, sexual pains, and social issues may also arise. A combination of these symptoms when caused by yoga is typically what is known as Kundalini Syndrome, which stems from performing Kundalini yoga poses incorrectly or too often."
Yoga not for children. American Yoga Association. Référé dans Hindu Samaj Critiques dans Yoga - Conflicts With Religion. LifeDivine. November 03, 2008.

"Yoga exercises are not recommended for children under 16 because their bodies’ nervous and glandular systems are still growing, and the effect of Yoga exercises on these systems may interfere with natural growth."

Religion Journal; Yoga in Aspen Public Schools Draws Opposition. Mindy Sink, New York Times, Saturday, February 8, 2003.

“Officials with the American Yoga Association said they were less concerned with philosophy and religion than physiology and cautioned against allowing children under 16 to practice yoga because they believe that their growth may be affected.”

Hatha yoga danger of injuries. Charles MacInerney.

General benefits, cautions and contraindications of yoga. Julie Lusk. 2006.

"A caution from one alternative medicine site warns that meditation instruction can cause physiological or psychological harm - such as: mania, psychosis, hallucination, depression and suicidal tendency, nervous breakdown, sudden surge of of heart rates, chronic pain, and split personalities. Yoga is implicated - as are, certain religious types of meditation and incorrect hypnosis. (link)"

Mahabir, Deolal. Yoga: Hints and cautions.

Includes cautions regarding 1) postures that increase abdominal pressures, 2) inverted postures, 3) hypertension, and 4) low back problems.

Lasater, Judith. Yogi beware: Hidden dangers can lurk within even the most familiar pose. YogaJournal, Jan/Feb 2005, pp. 110-119.*
Nespor, Karel. (2000). Yoga and Health. A Course for Swedish Yoga Teachers, Hruba Skala, 12. - 16.6. (Nespor, Karel M. D., Ph. D. (Swaroop Murti)).
Contraindications of Yoga practices - general principles
  • Physically demanding exercises and pranayama with long internal breath retention should be avoided in most generalised acute conditions, e.g. infectious diseases.
  • Inverted asanas including Padahastasana should be avoided in glaucoma, inflammatory diseases in the head region and severe hypertension.
  • Forward bending asanas can be harmful for people with serious problems in the lumbar spine. Twisting asanas (especially in upright position, such as Ardha Matsyendrasana)should be performed carefully or omitted in people with spinal problems.
  • Joints which are not healthy should not be weighted down or burdened. Even Surya Namaskar may be too much for somebody with knee problems, not to speak about Sirshasana in people with weak or injured cervical spine.
  • The pressure in the abdomen should not be increased in cases of inflammatory and other acute abdominal diseases.
  • Long periods of meditation and Yoga Nidra are not without risk for same people with severe mental problems such as schizophrenia or persons disturbed after the abuse of hallucinogenic and stimulant drugs or cannabis.
  • The therapeutic effects of Yoga should not be overemphasised in health problems which can be treated by a physician in a safe and effective way.
Physical yoga can be dangerous. Shakti Karma. Bhakti Yoga International Society.

Yoga done wrong can be dangerous and can cause adverse effects on your overall health. Some of these side effects as are follows: Adversely effecting your muscles and cause heavy pain and internal bleeding. Some yoga poses can even lead to fracture or ruptures of delicate bones. This case is especially true if you have delicate or brittle bones. Ruptures like these can take months to heal and might sometimes even need surgical intervention. Some yoga poses can even lead to adverse gastric problems in some individuals. Most people complain gastric symptoms to be associated with hatha yoga postures. This is especially true if you do not perform all yoga asanas in a particular sequence. Some of the yoga poses are so complex that even experts don't understand them properly. For instance the kundalini yoga. Yoga poses like these done wrong can have adverse effect on you mentally. This is known as the kundalini syndrome. The possible side effects on kundalini syndrome are pseudo death, psychosis, pseudo psychosis, confusion, anxiety, panic attacks, depression, sadness, suicidal thoughts, urges to self-mutilate, homicidal urges, arrhythmia (irregular heart beat), exacerbation of prior or current mental illness, insomnia, inability to hold a job, inability to talk, inability to drive, sexual pains, temporary blindness, and headaches. Even if you practise yoga under a instructor, chances are that he or she is not fully aware of the techniques and might give you wrong instructions. So you need to be super careful if you even consider attempting these advanced yoga forms.

Religion and psychosis. Johannes Aagaard. May, 1994.

“It is an established fact that yoga – at least in the form that has become pervasive today, viz. Hatha yoga and Kundalini yoga – may release and possibly create psychotic states in the mind of the practitioner, withdrawing his or her interest from the outer world in ways reminiscent of the kind of psychosis called autism.”

Discusses a lot of contraindications for Yoga and the possible restriction of movement that may be necessary following injury.

Is kundalini yoga dangerous to practice? Q&A with Goswami Kriyananda., September–October 2000.
It's own-up time: I'm a hardcore yoga fan. Health. Telegraph, 6 May 2005.

" doctor from the Beth Israel Medical Centre in New York who, earlier this year, told a British journalist that he saw up to five Bikram-related injuries a week, a result, apparently, of stretching muscles too far beyond their resting lengths."

McGonigal, Kelly. Nursing an injury or illness.

“It’s the reality of living in a physical body in a complex world: sometimes we hurt, and sometimes we are ill. Maybe your yoga practice has reduced the frequency of everyday aches or illnesses, but even the most dedicated yogis get injured or sick sometimes. Sometimes, the practice of yoga produces an injury. A yoga injury can seem like a betrayal: How could something so good have hurt us? Whether you have a mild injury caused by carelessness or ambition in your yoga practice, or are recovering from an illness that makes your regular strenuous yoga practice seem like torture, write yourself an individualized yoga prescription . . .”


Dr. James G. Garrick, an orthopedic surgeon and director of the Center for Sports Medicine at St. Francis Hospital in San Francisco, said his clinic saw 39 patients with yoga injuries in 2002, up from 11 in 2001. Most of the injuries patients suffered were to the knee, followed by lower back and shoulder. The injuries result from people trying to stretch their bodies into difficult poses that are beyond their physical limitations. "The last couple of years we've been seeing a dramatic increase in the number of people injured doing yoga," Garrick said. "It's frightened us."

Palkhivala, Aadil. How to teach peace. My Yoga Mentor, Nov 2004, no. 12.

“. . . as teachers, we must be very careful with certain pranayama practices. Bhastrika pranayama (often known as ‘Breath of Fire’) can damage or even destroy the nervous system. I’ll never forget a woman who came to me for legal advice when I was practicing law. She was extremely agitated, constantly distracted, and couldn’t finish a thought or a sentence. I learned that her nervous system was burnt out from years of practicing pranayama improperly, specifically bhastrika and kapalabhati (Skull-shining breath). When an excess of pranic energy floods the nervous system, it is like a balloon that’s filled with more air than it has the strength to contain. The nervous system is shattered and severe mental trauma can result. The body must be properly prepared with years of asana (especially backbends) to safely receive and contain the power of prana.

“And there are other ways to harm our students with the practice. For instance, the nervous system is agitated by jerky movements. This includes trembling during a pose by working too hard. Remind your students that there is no virtue in holding poses too long, for the benefits quickly unravel and turn into detriments. I have heard some teachers say to their students, ‘Shake it out!’ and encourage their students to shake themselves after intense poses to release tension. This misses the point. It is far better to be still and melt the tension with awareness.”

Yoshikawa, Yoko. When not to invert. Yoga Journal, Sep/Oct 2000, pp. 98, 174-177.

Discomfort. You should come down from Sirsasana (Headstand) or Sarvangasana (Shoulderstand) if there is pressure or discomfort in your head, eyes, ears, neck, or throat.

Cervical spondylitis. Characterized by reduced disc space between the cervical vertebrae, bony spur formations, a loss of the lordotic (normal) curve of the cervical spine, and numbness and tingling in the hands or feet due to nerve compression.

Cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and/or excess weight. According to Ralph Laforge, static inverted poses can pose problems for those with coronary disease because they "place undue pressure on the chambers and valves of the heart, which in turn places undue stress on the already compromised coronary circulation." If you have high blood pressure, the baroreceptor mechanism which protects the brain from an excessive surge of blood may possibly be compromised in inversions.

Diabetes and/or insulin resistance. According to Laforge, virtually every adult with type II diabetes has coronary disease, or "silent ischemia." The internal pressure on the arterial walls from blood volume changes can result in cardiovascular complications.

Glaucoma, detachment of the retina, or extreme nearsightedness (retinal detachment is more common if one is extremely nearsighted). Unlike the brain, the retinal veins of the eyes might not be protected from a sudden onrush of blood by inverting. If your eyes become repeatedly bloodshot from inverting, you should consult a teacher or medical professional.

Discharge or infections of the ear, sinus infections, and the flu (although inversions are recommended to hasten recovery from the common cold).

Pregnancy past the first trimester, although this can vary greatly depending on your familiarity and ease with inversions. Some women find that supported Shoulderstand with a chair or Viparita Karani can be of benefit well into pregnancy.

"Of the above mentioned methods, the last one is said to be the most important. Trying to awaken your Kundalini by force and without the aid of a guru can be dangerous. This can result in some symptoms such as: mental confusion, headache or the feeling of something heavy in your head, psychosis, intense mood swings, epilepsy or other involuntary body movements, stress, depression, irregular breathing, immoral behavior. "

The possibility of adverse effects

"According to many teachers of meditation, and the school of Transpersonal Psychology, it is not considered wise to engage in contemplative practices, such as Kundalini yoga, without the guidance of a credible teacher, or without thorough foreknowledge of the chosen spiritual path. Many spiritual teachers and psychologists consider any intense contemplative or spiritual practice without the support of a cultural context, or without the support of thorough psychological and physical preparation, to be unfortunate, or even dangerous. Both Bogart (1991) and Lukoff (1998) notes the growing occurrence of meditation-related problems in western contemplative life (for more information on this particular topic see the section on adverse effects of Meditation)."

Yoga : kundalini Yoga – Techniques and Pitfalls. Dipankar Khanna.

"When Kundalini awakening happens to people who are not on a spiritual path, the experience can leave them fragile and fragmented." "While the enormous changes associated with a spiritual awakening may demand psychological and social adjustments, they are not in themselves necessarily indicative of illness." (see the list of symptoms)

Kundalini yoga. Wikipedia. October 04 2009.

"Inability to follow strict instructions of the Master, or practicing of methods without a living and self-realized master, can lead to a series of psychic disturbances and sometimes even mental damage. The conditions are known in psychiatric circles as Kundalini Syndrome."

Symptomatology. "Researchers affiliated with the fields of transpersonal psychology and near-death studies (see references below) have suggested some common criteria that describe Kundalini problems, of which the most prominent feature is a feeling of energy or heat rushing up the spine [17][18]. Other sensory and motor symptoms may include: the feeling of cranial pressures[19], the perception of inner sounds [17],
experiences of inner lights [17][20], vibrating or tickling sensations in the lower back [17], tachycardia (rapid heart rate)[21], changes in breathing[22], spontaneous bodily movements [22], sensations of heat or cold moving through the body [20], localized bodily pain that starts and stops abruptly[20], vibrations and itching under the skin[20], and unusual, or intense, sexual sensations [23].

Mental and affective symptoms include: fear [24], anxiety [24], depersonalization [20], intense positive or negative emotions [20], spontaneous slowing or speeding of thoughts [20], spontaneous trance states[24], experiencing oneself as larger than the physical body [20], and experiences of paranormal consciousness [25]."

"Summary of known problems: Death, pseudo death, psychosis, pseudo psychosis, confusion, anxiety, panic attacks, depression, sadness, suicidal thoughts, urges to self-mutilate, homicidal urges, arrhythmia (irregular heart beat), exacerbation of prior or current mental illness, insomnia, inability to hold a job, inability to talk, inability to drive, sexual pains, temporary blindness, uticaria or rash, and headaches [26] [27] [28][29][30]"

"Kundalini teachers commonly caution those interested in kundalini yoga to practice only under the guidance of an experienced teacher. Uncontrolled kundalini awakening has been reported to produce symptoms such as the following : mental confusion, psychosis, gastrointestianal disordersitching, burning, or involuntary twitching, sexual dysfunction, severe mood swings, egotism, ringing or hissing sounds in ears, paranormal activity, immoral behavior.

"Practicing kundalini may be dangerous for those who start learning it abruptly without any guidance from the yoga master or are not serious in doing it. This will surely put them in trouble and they may face very serious problems of heart attack, dehydration or sometimes torn cartilage." "The negative problems are just like ghosts that keep on disturbing the mind of the seekers. These kinds of problem are always tormenting our unconscious mind which is very dangerous for the yoga performers. The energy in the unconscious mind try to empower the ways to come out strongly which should be checked properly."


Kundalini. Psych Central. Dr John Grohol’s.
Symptoms of kundalini awakening. Indiatimes Spirituality.
Exploring the symptoms. Biology of kundalini.
Shared transformation. El Collie.
· Kundalini signs and symptoms.
· Shared Transformation Misdiagnosis.
Warning and disclaimer and Types of awakening January 26, 2008.

"....I would be remiss if I did not sound a warning concerning the dangers associated with a radical change of consciousness. Just at the time when you are ready to move toward the new way of being, the terror often strikes." "Triggers for awakening vary; many people take Yoga classes for health, not realizing that they can lead to awakened Kundalini."

Symptoms List. Biology of Kundalini by Jana Dixon.

"The spontaneous symptoms of kundalini awakening can be arranged into the various practices of yoga."

Kundalini Syndrome. Ellie Crystal.
Kundalini Awakening.
Kundalini: The Reawakening of the Serpent. Pignatelli, Diego
Real world Kundalini. Bob Boyd.
Kundalini Survival & Support. - Kundalini Complications. Bob Boyd.
Helpful Measures in Dealing with Kundalini Emergencies. George A. Boyd. 2004. Mudrashram Institute of Spiritual Studies.
Talk Given At Babaji's Parliament of Yoga and World Religions. George A. Boyd. December 19, 1992. Mudrashram Institute of Spiritual Studies.
Can Meditation Be Bad for You? Mary Garden The Humanist a magazine of critical inquiry and social concern. Published in the Humanist, September/October 2007.

The Dalai Lama has said that Eastern forms of meditation have to be handled carefully: "Westerners who proceed too quickly to deep meditation should learn more about Eastern traditions and get better training than they usually do. Otherwise, certain physical or mental difficulties appear."

"Dr. Solomon Snyder, head of neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University, warns that during meditation the brain releases serotonin. This may help those with mild depression but too much serotonin can cause, in some, a paradoxical relaxation-induced anxiety. Instead of relaxing during meditation, these people become distressed and may even have panic attacks. Snyder says that in some cases of schizophrenia, meditation can launch a person straight into psychosis."
The physical and psychological effects of meditation. Micheal Murphy et Steven Donovan.
Risks of mediation. Katinka Hesselink. 2006.
Does meditation have detrimental effects ? A thread in the Meditation in Psychotherapy online forum.
The safety of Heat Rhythm Meditation. Energize your hearth. http://www.appliedmeditation/
Transcendantale meditation
Transcendental meditation in our school. Timothy Burgin. yogabasics-blog. November 11, 2007.
A sceptical view of transcendental meditation & the late Maharishi. TM Free blog.
Why I believe the transcendental meditation org is dangerous. John M. Knapp. Knapp Family Counseling.

"The orthodox practitioners warn that improperly supervised practice can cause unbalanced circulation of inner energies that can eventually lead to unbalanced effects on the various systems of the body, both mental and physical. Stories of unguided practitioners or inexpertly guided students developing chronic mental and physical health problems as a result of such training are not uncommon.[9] The term

"Qi Gong-Induced Psychosis" was included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, of the American Psychiatric Association in the late 1990s,[10] and is described as a culturally bound disorder with painful psychosomatic symptoms.[11] Dr. Arthur Kleinman and Dr. Sing Lee from Harvard Medical School, researchers on variouspsychiatric topics in China, suggest that in international psychiatry this illness would be recognized as “…a specific type of brief reactive psychosis or as the precipitation of an underlying mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or posttraumatic stress disorder.”[12] Lee and Kleinman both claim to have had experience with patients suffering from the condition. "Many kinds of qigong share certain similarities, such as the attainment of a trance state, patterned bodily posture or movement…, the practice of which could induce mental illnesses in some of its practitioners."

"Stories are told of people gradually developing chronic mental and physical health problems as a result of such training. A common term used by English speaking practitioners for one example of this is "Qigong Psychosis" (Now included in the DSM-IV as a culture-bound syndrome: Qi-Gong Psychotic Reaction: DSM-IV General Information: Appendix I, Outline for Cultural Formulation and Glossary of Culture-Bound Syndromes)." "This recent popularity has also led to increased attention for quasi-religious groups teaching styles of qigong in an atmosphere of New Age-like spirituality. As mentioned above, qigong has been associated in China with Taoist and Buddhist meditation practices for two thousand years, and this association has been exploited, according to traditionalists, by many would be cult leaders. Perhaps the parade example of a group promoting a synthesis of overt religiosity with their qigong is the Falun Gong, whose worldwide popularity grew to the point that the People's Republic of China government banned their practice outright in 1999."

Qigong Disease: What It Is & What to Do about It. Bob Flaws, Dipl. Ac. & C.H. FNAAOM.
Qi-Gong Psychotic Reaction. Timothy McCajor Hall, MD PhD.
Chu J. H. K. Risk of Qigong. From a Chinese Medical Doctor who is a qigong teacher in San Francisco.

"What is the risk of doing qigong?

Institutions that teach qigong have been sued by people who are taking qigong (chi kung, chi gong) lessons from them, alleging that the training had caused everything from emotional damage to psychotic breakdowns to suicide. .

About 20 years ago, there was an institution and its instructors that taught qigong were sued by more than 470 people who claimed they had suffered physical and emotional damages, according to a San Francisco newspaper, San Francisco Examiner. (...)
The problems can show up like mania, psychotic, hallucination, depressed and suicidal, nervous breakdowns, sudden surge of of heart rates, chronic pain, and split personalities. This problem also can happen from incorrect training in certain types of yoga (resulted in kundalini syndrome), certain religious types of meditation and incorrect hypnosis. (...)"


Kundalini Short Circuits – Risks & Information. Marja Savola.
Articles about Qigong and Tai Chi disease
Side Effects,Causes & Answers.
Spiritual crisis
Common difficulties. Common experiences. Kaia Nightingale.
Spiritual crisis network. England.

“What causes spiritual crisis? The phenomenon of spiritual crisis appears to be on the increase. There are many possible different triggers for spiritual crisis. The following are some of the more common ones: the intense use of spiritual practices such as, for example, prayer or meditation, yoga, tai chi, and other similar techniques, particularly if practiced intensely…”

Spiritual Detective. Hazel Courteney, Spirit & Destiny magazine, October 2005, p.99.
Spiritual emergence, spiritual emergency, and psychospiritual healing. Feuerstein, Georg. Ph.D.
Spiritual Crisis and Youth Work: Interrogating Holism. Skott-Myhre, Hans. The internationale child an youth care network. Issue 98, March 2007.
A Question of Schizophrenia or Spiritual Emergence. Mental Illness or Psychic Awakening?
Spiritual Emergence or Psychosis? Selene Vega.

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