kumbhak, kapilibhati, meditation

The authors describe mental health symptoms exacerbated by these techniques, precautions and contraindications based on clinical observations;

  • Meditative focusing (a conscious effort to keep attention on the object): contraindications reported; “history of flashbacks or dissociative episodes…may become more confused and disconnected from realityPsychosis can be precipitated in vulnerable persons“.
  • Unstructured meditation: contraindications reported; “posttraumatic stress disorder prone to flashbacks or dissociative episodes and where sense of reality may be compromised, such as in schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or borderline personality disorders“.
  • Kapalabhati (a ‘High Frequency Yoga Breathing’ or fast/rapid breath technique): contraindications reported; “bipolar disorder, psychosis, history of flashbacks or dissociative episodes“.
  • Breathing with a period of breath holding (kumbhak): contraindications reported; “bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, dissociative disorder”.


Such patients may benefit more from yoga postures, or certain types of Variable Rate Yoga Breathing, and brief guided meditation.”

  • Meditation (allow awareness to merge with the object of meditation effortlessly): no contraindications reported
  • Alternate nostril breathing: no contraindications reported

Further reading

Dr Shirley Telles and Nikamal Singh (p93 to p108) in Muskin. R.P. Gerbarg. P.L, Brown R.P, (2013). Complementary and Integrative Therapies for Psychiatric Disorders, An Issue of Psychiatric Clinics, l e (The Clinics: Internal Medicine) 1st edition 

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