Best Yoga Exercises for the Eyes
Many people wear spectacles or contact lenses to improve their vision, Glasses, however, do not actually cure bad eyesight. In fact, eye problems frequently get worse through their use, necessitating ever more powerful lenses.
Factors that contribute to bad eyesight are:-
- artificial and prolonged bad lighting
- prolonged computer use
- television or video watching
- poor diet
- muscle inefficiency due to hours of office work and study
- mental and emotional tension
- toxic condition of the body and ageing.
Solving the problem of lighting is fairly straightforward. Diet, however, is more complex and it affects not only the health of the eyes but of the whole body. Simplifying the diet and avoiding heavy, indigestible, oily, spicy foods as well as tinned, processed, pre-packed and junk foods will help rectify poor vision. A vegetarian diet is also recommended or, at least, a reduction in non-vegetarian food.
Contrary to popular belief, long periods of reading do not damage the eyes, providing the mind and eyes are relaxed while doing so. If there is tension, then even a short period of reading can strain the eyes. Try to develop the ability to read with relaxed awareness and a good posture. Before starting to read, if mental or muscular tension is experienced in the eyes, perform Shashank asana for a few minutes. This asana will do much to calm the mind and relax the eyes.
Try to depend less on the use of glasses. Use them only when it is absolutely necessary. Leave them off during leisure time whenever possible. This will help the eyes to adjust and start functioning normally.
The habit of walking with bare feet on the grass, sand or bare earth, either early in the morning or around sunset, is claimed to have a relaxing and beneficial effect on the eyes. This is due to the reflex connections between the soles of the feet and the visual areas of the brain. It is especially recommended where the feet are often in restrictive footwear.
A simple sun bath may also be taken while facing the rising or setting sun. The eyes should be closed. Feel the ultra-violet rays soothing and relaxing the eyes.
Excluding diseases such as glaucoma, trachoma and cataract, the most common eye disorders today are related to functional defects in the ocular muscles exacerbated by chronic mental and emotional tension. The following simple exercises help to alleviate various disorders related to the malfunctioning of the eye muscles, such as short and long-sightedness, presbyopia and squint.
Eye exercises should be practiced regularly with patience and perseverance. Do not expect an instant cure or improvement. It takes years for the eyes to become defective; it will also take time, a few months or more before noticeable progress will be made. However, improvement will come, as it has too many people who have adopted a yogic way of life and gradually reduced the power of their glasses.
Before starting, it is a good idea to splash pure, cold water onto the eyes a few times. Hold a little water in the palms above a water basin and splash it onto the eyelids. Do this about 10 times and then begin the exercises. This procedure will help stimulate the blood supply and generally tone up the eyes.
Those who suffer from major eye diseases or disorders such as glaucoma, trachoma, and cataract, retinal detachment, retinal artery or vein thrombosis, iritis, keratitis, or conjunctivitis should only perform yoga practices after consulting an eye specialist. Inverted asanas and kunjal kriya should be avoided altogether while the condition lasts. Adopting a yogic lifestyle and a simple vegetarian diet, however, may be of great benefit.
Eye exercises should be performed one after the other in the sequence given. The series should be practiced in its entirety, once early in the morning and/or once in the evening.
The most important thing to remember during practice is to be totally relaxed. Do not strain as this will lead to fatigue and tiredness of the eyes. The facial muscles, eyebrows and eyelids should remain totally relaxed. After each exercise the eyes should be closed and rested for at least half a minute. The practice of palming may be performed at this time. Glasses should not be worn while performing the eye exercises.
Exercise 1: Palming
Sit quietly and close your eyes.
Rub the palms of the hands together vigorously until they become warm. Place the palms gently over the eyelids, without any undue pressure.
Feel the warmth and energy being transmitted from the hands into the eyes and the eye muscles relaxing. The eyes are being bathed in soothing darkness. Remain in this position until the heat from the hands has been absorbed by the eyes.
Then lower the hands, keeping the eyes closed. Again rub the palms together until they become hot and place them over the closed eyes. (Make sure the palms and not the fingers cover the eyes.)
Repeat this procedure at least 3 times.
Palming relaxes and revitalizes the eye muscles, and stimulates the circulation of the aqueous humor, the liquid that runs between the cornea and the lens of the eye, aiding the correction of defective vision.
The benefits are enhanced if the exercise is practiced in front of the rising or setting sun. Be aware of the warmth and light on the closed lids. Never look directly at the sun, except for a few initial moments when it is just rising or when it is about to set.
Exercise 2: Blinking
Sit with your eyes open. Blink your eyes 10 times quickly.
Close the eyes and relax for 5 or 6 relaxed breaths. Repeat the blinking 10 times quickly and then again close the eyes and relax. Repeat 5 times.
Many people with defective eyesight blink irregularly and unnaturally. This is related to the state of habitual tension in the eyes. This exercise encourages the blinking reflex to become spontaneous, inducing relaxation of the eye muscles.
Exercise 3: Sideways viewing
Assume a sitting position with the legs straight in front of the body.
Raise the arms to the sides at shoulder level, keeping them straight, make a loose fist and point the thumbs upwards. The thumbs should be just in the peripheral vision when the head is facing forward. If they are not clearly visible. bring them slightly forward until they come into view.
The head should not move. Look at a fixed point directly in front and on a level with the eyes. Fix the position of the head in this neutral position.
Then, without moving the head sideways, focus the eyes on the following, one after the other:
a) left thumb
b) space between the eyebrows, bhrumadhya
c) right thumb
d) space between the eyebrows
e) left thumb.
Repeat this cycle 10 times, keeping the head and spine straight throughout.
Finally, close and rest the eyes. Palming may be performed several times.
Inhale in the neutral position. Exhale while looking to the sides. Inhale and come to the center.
Sideways viewing relaxes the tension of the muscles strained by constant reading and close work. It also prevents and corrects squint.
If the arms become tired they should be supported on two stools.
Exercise 4: Front and sideways viewing
Maintain the same body position as in exercise 3, but place the left fist on the left knee so that the thumb points upward. Hold the right thumb to the right of the body so that it points upward.
Without moving the head, focus the eyes on the left thumb, then on the right thumb and then return to the left thumb.
Repeat this process 10 times, then rest and close your eyes. Repeat the same procedure on the left side of the body. Keep the head and spine straight throughout. Finally, close and rest the eyes.
Palming may be performed several times.
Inhale in the neutral position.
Exhale while looking forward. Inhale while looking to the side.
Front and sideways viewing improve coordination of the medial and lateral muscles of the eyeball.
Exercise 5: Up and down viewing
Maintain the same position as in exercise 4. Place both fists on the knees with both thumbs pointing upward. Keeping the arms straight, slowly raise the left thumb while following the motion of the thumb with the eyes.
Once the thumb is raised to the maximum, slowly return to the starting position, all the time keeping the eyes focused on the thumb without moving the head. Practise the same movement with the right thumb. Repeat 10 times with each thumb. Keep the head and spine straight throughout. Finally, close and rest the eyes.
Palming may be performed several times.
Inhale while raising the eyes.
Exhale while lowering the eyes.
Up and down viewing balances the upper and lower eyeball muscles.