Panic Disorder problems after a decade of Yoga and Meditation. Yoga teacher, MBA, Singapore. 28th January 2010.

I happened to visit your website and read the victims' stories and thought of writing my own experience. I got a Panic Disorder problem after practicing Yoga and Meditation for a decade.
I am 32 years of age and I am from India-Bangalore. I now live in Singapore. I started Yoga and meditation in the year June 1996 and I practiced for a decade. I did Hatha yoga and Ashtanga Yoga. I used to practice for an hour everyday. I used to teach yoga-Hatha yoga one/two classes in a day four times a week, but I stopped since October 2008.

I started my day by doing yoga asanas and pranayama for an hour, and meditated used to be/ at night for 1-2 hours everyday. First, I used to relax my whole body for 5-10 minutes, observe my breath. I used to practice meditation for 2-3 hours a day-sometimes in the morning, afternoon and night. I saw colours and I used to have OBE often.

I used to get uneasiness and nausea after practicing advanced Hatha yoga. Frequent and disturbing anxiety attacks and floating sensations were the first bad experiences I had after yoga practice. Three years ago, I realised that I used to feel really weak after meditation and was unable to comprehend why.

Since I was ignorant about the adverse effects of yoga and meditation, I continued practicing further.

Gradually, I started getting mild to extreme anxiety attacks after meditation/Yoga since March 08, and since Sep 08, I was completely off the track. With the medication also, I was not in the right track. I have been going through some weird stuff since October 2007 but never knew that things could get out of control.

The symptoms what I was experiencing were quite abnormal. According to doctors, it was panic disorder. Panic disorder has a series of intense episodes of extreme anxiety: like rapid heartbeat, perspiration, dizziness, dyspnea, trembling, uncontrollable fear, hyperventilation, hot/cold flashes, numbness, tingling sensation, electric shock like sensation, nausea, constriction on the spine, head and chest. I had these entire symptoms one after the other and it were quite painful and scary.

Gradually, I started developing so called "Agoraphobia" and it was one of the most horrible experiences I had to deal with. I couldn't even understand my own feelings many times. It was like a terrible swing. Many times, I felt like a robot and felt like as if I was weightless. Sometimes, I thought of ending my life because I couldn't do my day to day activities.

I wanted to be left alone many times after this episode. I feel as if I am isolated from people and want to be with the nature-like gardening, rain, water and walking on the grass early morning. Many times, I felt and sensed that I could understand what the other person was thinking. My ears and my smell were very sharp until medical intervention.

Almost all the time, I could feel and hear that someone within me was guiding me and used to intervene when things were not right for me. Few times, I used to ignore and many times, I used to listen. This voice was loud few times before my episode started. But, I ignored it completely because I couldn't comprehend. I did meet up with few people who understood the problem but they failed to give me any guidance.

Views of yoga teachers

According to yoga books, it was so called "Kundalini awakening". I was unsure what is the problem? These were on a regular basis, sometimes daily or three times in a week, since Jan 08 and lasted as long as half an hour to an hour or until medical intervention (Alprazolam 0.5 mg to 1mg).

Even my teachers weren't anticipating the adverse effects. They often used to say that these spiritual practices don't have any bad effects and failed to give me any scientific answers many times. I spoke to many yoga practitioners and the answer was "Yoga and meditation is linked to pure consciousness and don't have adverse effects". However, all these practitioners failed to answer what is consciousness. They mesmerized the mass and people believed in them.

Last to last year, I met up with 15 different yoga teachers and meditation teachers. Yoga teachers, back in India-Bangalore, didn't even know and the irony was many of them were not practicing Yoga Asana/meditation regularly. They knew the theory quite well but they couldn't understand the changes Yoga could do to someone.
The doctors and treatment

In between, the doctors I consulted in India did their best, but also imposed that these horrible and scary symptoms were created by my imagination. This statement broke me emotionally and physically. I could never ever imagine these scary symptoms in my life. Extensive health check-ups with MRI body scan were done in Bangalore-India. The reports were normal.

Infact, I consulted 12 different doctors in Bangalore and Delhi. One of the doctors in India, prescribed Revotril, Etizolam and the other doctor changed the medicine and prescribed Sertaline HCL (generic form of Zoloft) and Anxit (Xanax Family). Sertaline HCL made me go through hell, rather than stabilizing my body rhythm. I couldn't even stop Sertaline HCL (Generic form of Zoloft) since the medicine had terrible withdrawal symptoms. Doctors in India couldn't understand why it was happening and why I was unable to do Yoga, meditation or any form of exercise: walking/jogging, which I used to do it for many years.

I met the Singaporean doctors on 28th June 2009 and then laser acupuncture (including needle) with acupressure therapy started on 12th August 2009. Oxygen consumption was recorded in each every session. Tapering off from Sertaline HCL 125 mg to 100mg to 75 mg to 50 mg, then to 6mg was a big time nightmare. I started getting tremors and abdominal cramps. Luckily, ZOLOFT is tapering and I am also having terrible withdrawal symptoms. Slowly, I am stabilizing but I still have a long way to go.

My condition now

Indeed, it is my privileged to meet few doctors and (some) acupuncture therapy management group, here in Singapore. Never imagined that they could change my life in a better way, if not the same old one. The disorder had created a havoc in my life and they made me see the sunshine after a long terrible darkness.

I am thankful to doctors and I am seeing the slow gradual changes in myself. My body is stabilizing slowly and I am able to connect my body and soul a bit, though not the same old me. For time being, I am advised to go for walking (mild to moderate brisk walking) for an hour or less. No yoga, meditation, jogging, aerobics.
Still, I get the floating sensation and the sinking feeling. My ears become sharp I am unsure what is the problem because doctors here in Singapore feel that the symptoms are very abnormal as compared to others who have Panic disorder. Generally, they recommend this kind of Panic disorder patient to join yoga/meditation classes.

I don't feel the same old me. I have lost faith in all the things, lost being motivated and inspired. I can feel any body sensation that arises within my body, be it dull muscle cramp or anything and this disturbs me a lot, many times.

I can't sleep on my back, which I used to do. This particular position takes me to trance state and I feel so tired after coming out. This is involuntary meditation as confirmed by Singaporean doctors. I can't do any yoga/meditation/aerobics/jogging but brisk walking in the nature is something which I am very comfortable doing.

I can't go to any room which is absolute silence because I get involuntary meditation symptoms like breath going down, body becoming numb and only my mind becoming sharp. So I carry a mobile that has audio channel facility/upload few songs. No classical ones. Indeed, I am unable to listen to any Indian Classical/Raga. To be honest any Classical music, be it Chinese/Japanese, I get the same symptoms.

I suffered, but no one could understand, except my husband. He broke down a couple of times seeing my condition. I was unable to see the horrible pains in his eyes and I tried my best to go through the symptoms, without informing him sometimes. My husband is trying his best of best to give me the right treatment/meet the right person who can understand and guide me.

For time being, I quit my job. I did MBA-marketing & PG Diploma in Yogic Science.

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