Yoga and Your Eyes


The term ‘yoga’ comes from the Sanskrit word ‘yoke’, which means to connect, a connection that encompasses one’s mind, body and spirit and beyond. The eyes have been called the ‘windows to the soul’ and for many are a very valuable part of everyday life. The practice of yoga gained the attention of the medical community in the 1990’s when Dr. Dean Ornish’s research was published advocating yoga-based stress management as preventative way to manage many chronic disorders. As eyes read to understand and process information, the mind can become focused and therefore tense. This can create eye fatigue, especially as technology advances and information is assessed in a variety of ways. Connection to our eyes and how we use them is as unique as each one of us is and understanding that connection will help us to keep them healthy.

The physical practice of yoga involves poses called “asanas”. These exercises target different parts of the body, including the eyes. The aim of the eye movements is to reduce stress and keep the eye muscles strong and elastic, improving visual concentration. Our eye muscles are like any other muscles in the body that require exercise to keep them performing well.

Some simple examples are as follows:

1. Sit comfortably with your back and neck straight but not tight.

2. Focus your eyes on the tip of your nose without blinking for as long as you can.

3. Close your eyes and relax. Over time your will be able to increase the length of time you are able to hold this pose. This exercise is similar but the focus is different:

1. In a seated and comfortable position focus your gaze on the area between your eyebrows, often called the “third eye”, without blinking. Once again, close your eyes and relax.

2. Open your eyes and look towards your left shoulder without turning your head. Hold for as long as you can and then close your eyes to relax before changing the posture to the right side.

3. Place the palms of your hands over your closed eyes and relax for as long as you like. Another aspect of yoga is the practice of meditation. Meditation on light is a useful way to strengthen and clean your eyes.

1. Sit comfortably in a cross-legged position with your back and neck straight, keeping your shoulders wide but not tense.

2. Begin by closing your eyes and focusing your breath into the belly.

3. After breathing slowly and deeply for a few minutes, open your eyes and gaze at a lit candle for as long as you can without blinking. Your eyes will begin to water and your focus will soften.

4. Close your eyes and turn inward. A visual imprint will be left on the retina, as a way to focus the mind and awaken new levels of consciousness.

5. Repeat these steps for several minutes.

These are simple ways to reduce stress and overall fatigue due to the visual demands we place on our eyes. Especially as our eyes age, and we lose the ability to accommodate at close range. Visiting your Optometrist on a yearly basis, to keep your visual correction and lens coatings up to date as well as, implementing stress reducing activities such as yoga into your daily routine will help keep your eyes healthy and functioning well.

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