In my normal practice of Optometry, there are many times that eye exercises have been advised to relax the eyes. After more reading, it is interesting to know that there are many yoga practices that have been mentioned to be beneficial for the eyes. Though there are no scientific papers supporting them, but the methods are easy to perform without inconvenience and can be considered the usual way of life of a yoga practitioner. So why not?
All the following exercises can be practised by sitting in Padmasana, Vajrasna or Sukhasana with the back and neck remaining straight. The body is relaxed and the head should not move when the eye exercises are performed. Give rest to the eyes by keeping them closed for at least 10 to 12 seconds between each exercise. These exercises are done without spectacles.
- Stretching: Stretching improves blood circulation to eyes and reducing any eye strain.
Vertical Movement – Move the eyeballs up looking at the space between the eyebrow-center, then lower the eyeballs by looking at the tip of the nose. Do it slowly without moving the head. Do it for 8-10 times and close the eyes to rest.
Horizontal Movment – Move the eyeballs horizontally parallel to the floor in a straight line from right to left and from left to right side allowing them to go as far as they can. Do it for 8-10 times and close the eyes to rest.
Circular Movement – This simple exercise involves looking up and rotating the eyes slowly both clockwise and anti-clockwise in circular motion. It helps immensely in improving the flexibility of the eyes, and can be done with both open and closed eyes. Do it for 6-8 times in each direction and close the eyes to rest.
Convergence – Now stretch the right arm forward and keep it parallel to the floor. Keep the index finger vertically pointing up and fix the eyes on the tip of the finger. Gradually bring the finger towards the nose and keep it there for some time then take it away from it. You can do like this 4-5 times.
- Focus Switching: Focus switching means alternating our focus between an object at distance and at near. Focus at an object at distant (eg. a tree) for 30 sec, then look at the lines on the palm, for 30 sec. Do it for 5 times and close the eyes to rest.
- Blinking: Blinking is an important mechanism for us to moisturize the front of our eyes by spreading the tears over the whole surface. What most people do not realize is that the blinking can be partial, either as a result of habit and/or during times when we are focused at a task eg.using laptops and mobiles. This becomes a huge problem now when we are almost inseparable with our gadgets. Many of our eye fatigue and eye strain symptoms are a result of lower blinking rate and partial blinking.
- Practice deliberate blinking gently and slowly for five full minutes any time of the day.
- Squeeze gently under the eyes before going to sleep.
Palming is a simple yet effective method for relaxing the eyes. It is an ancient yoga relaxation technique.
- Rub both palms together quickly for 10 seconds. This friction creates mild heat. The warm prana current flowing from the palms relieves the tension and strain around the eye muscles. Close the eyes and gently place the left palm over the left eye and right palm over the right eye. Do not apply pressure with the palms. Breathe in and out slowly to release stress. Repeat this 2-3 times.
- Sit comfortably in a chair in front of a table and stay relaxed. Close your eyes. Cup your right palm over the right eye and cup your left palm over the left eye. Let the fingers of both the hands meet on the forehead. Rest the elbows on the table and keep yourself completely relaxed. Look only at the darkness without opening the eyes. Let your mind also relax for some time. Sit like this for five minutes at a time, at least thrice a day.
Sirsasana, Sarvangasana, Vipritkarni, Bhujangasana, Shavasana and Surya Namakara are asanas that have been stated to be beneficial to the eyes for people without contraindications eg. cervical spondylosis, high myopia, hypertension or pregnancy. After doing inversion asanas, one should not sit up or stand up immediately but rest in Sasangasana or Balasana for some time.
Regular practice of Omkar, Bhramari, Sheetali (with open eyes) and Anulom-Vilom Pranayama in the mornings and evenings perfuses the eyes with plenty of blood flow. Pranayamas should be done on an empty stomach (The different pranayamas mentioned will be elaborated in my subsequent post).
YOGA-NIDRA AND MEDITATION
Deep relaxation of Yoga Nidra and Meditation gives rest to the eyes and increase their working capacity.
PRANA MUDRA FOR INCREASING EYE SIGHT
There are many mudras for vision but one of the mudra for energising and vitality is the Prana Mudra. This is done by touching the tips of little finger and ring finger with the tip of the thumb for at least 15 to 30 minutes. The index and middle fingers are straight and together.
I will be elaborating on the mudras for eye sight in my next post.
Gazing at a candle flame (blue part of the flame) at eye level at a distance of about two feet without blinking for about 2-3 minutes. If eyes begin to water before that, close the eyes. Once the eyes are closed, try to gaze internally at the after-image of the candle flame at the back of your mind’s eye. Repeat this whole routine one more time. Candle gazing makes the mind more focus and strengthen and relax the eye muscles.
JALA NETI KRIYA (NASAL WASH)
Jala Neti is a simple technique which involves using a special “neti pot” filled with warm, slightly salted water to wash the nasal passage. As the eyes and nasal passage are connected, it keeps the eyes free from congestion and improves vision.
WASHING THE EYES
Eye washes can be done by filling the eye washing glass with pure water and cup the eyes in it. Blink inside the water 15 to 20 times and change the water with some more fresh water and wash once again. This whole process is repeated in the other eye and can be done especially in the morning after waking, after a long day outdoor and before retiring to bed.
~ D.Tan (200hr YTT, Sep) ~