There is a book written in the 80’s called Phobia Free by Dr. Harold N Levinson where he claims that the vast majority of phobic or uncomfortable reaction to stimulus like flying, driving, noise, motion, small or open spaces, stairs, bright lights, water, phones, crowds, public speaking and so on, ”is physiologically determined by a malfunction within the inner ear system”.
Essentially with the Inner Ear (which acts as our inner gyroscope), any problem creates balance and perspective issues, which trigger sensory scrambling which results in discomfort, which may range from mild nausea or full on panic syndrome that stops one leaving the house.
He recommends the use of basically anti-histamines. Some people don’t like to use meds. I found Brandt Daroffs technique (included below) was the best. But all these following are possible treatments.
Yoga and other treatments for Vertigo
Do these very slowly and gently and do not go to the point where you feel any discomfort. If it aggravates problems, then stop.
To do them in the yogic way, (1 and 2)Inhale with head at normal position, exhale letting chin come forwards to chest. Inhale to centre and exhale tilting chin up towards ceiling. Repeat 3 times up and down. Keep the teeth together when moving the head.
(3)Inhale with head in normal position. Exhale dropping right ear slowly towards right shoulder. Inhale to centre. Exhale dropping left ear slowly towards left shoulder. Repeat 3 times to each side.
(4) Inhale with head in normal position. Exhale turning head to right as if to look over right shoulder. Only head and neck moves, not any part of upper trunk. Inhale back to centre. Exhale slowly turn head to left etc. Inhale to centre. Repeat 3 times to each side.
FOR ALL ASANA when you have Vertigo..
Move slowly and gently. Stand near a wall so that if you feel dizzy/imbalanced you can use the wall for support. Head down asana are generally not recommended, especially in acute phase.
TADASANA (Mountain Pose)
Stand with the feet shoulder width apart. Feet flat on the floor. Feel the contact between the foot-soles and the floor.
Arms hang loosely down by sides. Shoulders relaxed. Body at ease.
Open eyes and focus on a point at Eye level in front of you.
Interlock fingers in front of belly.
INHALE and begin to move joined hands up the front of body. Turn the hands at face level, so that the palms face upwards, fingers still interlocked. Keep the eyes focused.
As you stretch the hands up and straighten the arms come up onto your toes. Hold the breath briefly in and lengthen the body.
EXHALE and begin to reverse the arm movement, bringing them slowly down to in front of the belly again. Meanwhile slowly lower feet, so that at the end of the movement your heels touch the floor.
Relax, pause and breath.
Repeat the movement 5 times SLOWLY.
EKA PRANAMASA (One footed prayer pose)
Stand as before, arms loosely down by the sides. Relax the body.
Open the eyes and focus on one point at Eye level on the wall in front of you.
Join hands in front of chest in prayer pose, shoulders stay relaxed.
Shift all the weight of your body to your Right foot. Let the left foot slowly leave the floor, until just the tip of the left toes touch the ground.
Then place the left foot on top of the right foot so that you are balancing only on the right foot. Keep your eyes focussed. Breath slowly and evenly for 3 to 5 breaths in this pose, then place the left foot back on the ground.
Repeat to the other side.
Note: the image shows an advanced form, so gradually as you become comfortable you can try moving the foot further up, first with the foot-sole against the opposite calf, then knee, then thigh.
But don’t worry if you stay with the practice where you settle one foot on top of the other. This will still have therapeutic benefit.
Stand as before.
Join the hands in front of the belly .
Eyes open and focused on a point on the wall at about your waist height.
INHALE and bring both arms above head. Hands still flat together.
EXHALE and shift the weight of the body onto the right foot.
Inhale and lengthen upwards through the spine and up-stretched arms.
EXHALE and bend forwards from the hips, and raise the left leg behind you. It does not matter how high it comes.
Look forwards with the head so that you can still see the point of focus on the wall.
Stay there for a breath or two.
INHALE and raise the upper body and arms again and bring left foot to the floor.
Exhale and let the arms come down to rest comfortably at the sides of the body.
Rest and when ready, repeat to the other side.
Repeat the whole thing once more to each side. Don’t worry if you wobble. If it feels difficult modify the practice in a way that seems feasible for you. You could for example use a chair to balance your out-stretched arms on.
ARDHA MAYSYENDRASANA ( Spinal Twist)
Sit with the legs stretched straight out in front of you.
Pull back the buttocks slightly so that your back is straight, your tail bone is slightly curved back and you are directly on top of your sitting bones.
Bend the right leg. Place the right foot on the far side of the left knee.
Relax the body. Close the eyes. Breathe freely and easily.
Turn the spine so that you place the left arm on the outside of the right knee as shown in the illustration. Bring the right arm behind you and place palm down on the floor. Turn the whole upper body including neck and head till you are in a comfortable twist.
Remain here breathing calmly and slowly for 3 to 7 breaths.
Come out of the twist slowly and in your own time repeat to the other side.
This pose is useful for stretching parts of the spine, shoulders, chest, neck etc. which may be contracted and contributing to Vertigo.
Lie down flat on your back.
Spine neck and head are in a straight line.
If you need to, place a flat cushion under the back of your head.
Arms are straight and rolled slightly away from the body so that the palms face upwards or slightly inwards.
Let there be some space between the legs and let the feet fall out to the sides naturally.
Eyes and mouth gently closed.
Tuck chin SLIGHTLY towards chest to lengthen back of neck ( a little).
Focus on the soft natural rise of the belly as you breathe.
If thoughts come, be aware of them, but don’t try to follow them and return to awareness of the natural abdominal breath.
Remain here for 5 to 10 minutes, the longer the better.
Wiggle hands and feet and turn neck slowly side to side when you are ready to sit up.
BRANDT DAROFF Manoeuvre.
Begin by sitting upright on bed or on a couch that is long enough for you to lie down to either side when you sit in the middle.
• Lie down onto right side. Take no more than 1-2 seconds to do this
• Keep head looking up at 45 degree angle. Imagine someone standing about six feet in front of you, and keep looking at the person’s head at all times
• Remain on this side for thirty seconds, or until dizziness subsides.
• Return to an upright position and wait for thirty seconds
• Now lie down onto the other side.
Again, it should take one or two seconds to get into position
• Keep the head at a 45 degree angle
• Stay down for another thirty seconds, or until vertigo subsides
• Return to an upright position and wait for another thirty seconds.
It is recommended to practice this technique up to ten times each side twice a day. I found it extremely beneficial for Labyrinthitis which is a common cause of Vertigo.
BRAHMARI PRANAYAMA (The Humming breath)
Sit in a comfortable position, spine straight, head and neck relaxed and well- balanced, shoulders soft, arms loose and palms resting in lap. Eyes closed.
Note : You do NOT have to sit on the floor. A straight backed chair is fine.
Inhale from the belly (with no strain) and bring arms out to sides ..bend at elbows and with middle/index finger GENTLY block ears.
As you EXHALE Hum on one steady, even note like the sound of a bumble bee. Do not let the note go up and down. A low comfortable noise is best. Hum out loud for the whole length of the exhalation and when finished bring the hands back down to the lap and rest. Breathe normally.
When ready do another round.
Rest Between rounds or do 3 rounds and then rest.
Do NINE rounds in total. Either nine singly or 3×3.
While you are humming concentrate on the vibration in the centre of the head. The feeling in the upper palate and nose, the feeling deep in the ears, also in the forehead. Be completely aware of this gentle vibration.
When you are finished all rounds rest for a while with the hands in the lap and eyes closed.
TRATAK ( Candle Gazing)
Sit on the floor as above
Sit on a chair.
Set up a lighted candle in front of you on the table. The room should be draught free and dim.
The candle should be an arms-length away from you and the flame about the same level as your eyes.
Close your eyes first and let the body settle and be completely relaxed.
When you are ready, open your eyes half way, and gaze into the brightest part of the flame. The flame should be unflickering.
At first this may be hard and you will blink and that is fine. Keep trying until your eyes become accustomed to steadily gazing for some moments.
When your eyes feel tired (or after a minute) close your eyes and concentrate on the after image of the burning candle flame in the space behind the closed eyes. Keep the image steady. It may tend to drop, but raise and centre the image and hold it in this space, and look at it until it begins to fade.
When the afterimage is fading, again open the eyes softly and look into the brightest part of the flame. Do not blink. Hold the gaze steady (This takes some practice. Watering of the eyes is normal)
Gaze steadily for some time and when the eyes become tired, close them and focus again on the steady centred after-image.
Repeat this in total about 3 to 5 times. And afterwards keep the eyes closed when the after image has faded and remain still and quiet for a few minutes.
OTHER POINTS TO NOTE:
Vertigo can often be alleviated by eating a more alkaline diet, eliminating or restricting white carbohydrates, sugar, alcohol, and eating lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. Sometimes Vertigo is as a result of a food allergy and gluten (*wheat) and dairy would be the first to suspect. See how you feel after eliminating these for a period of time.
Drink enough water or herbal tea – 2 litres a day.
In a warm climate sometimes all that is required is a bit more salt in the diet to compensate for perspiration.
Boosting the immune system over all can alleviate Vertigo. To this end take daily Echinecea for 3-6 months as prescribed on the bottle. Occasionally take a high dose Vitamin C booster.
Vitamin B supplementation is advised.
Magnesium rich foods are recommended, such dark leafy greens, nuts and seeds, fish, pulses, wholegrains, avocados, dried fruits and bananas.
Sometimes ”trigger points” on the neck or further away contribute to Vestibular disorders.
The main ones possible are sternocleidomastoid (sternal or clavicular branch)
These can often be self-treated. A book I recommend is ‘The Trigger Point therapy Workbook” by Clair Davies.