How Yoga Helps your Eyes

How Yoga Helps your Eyes
Not just for flexibility, but did you know Yoga can benefit your body in more ways than one?

Yoga is experiencing a surge in popularity as people rediscover its benefits. Yoga has been used for centuries for mental focus and relaxation, stretching, and improving balance, posture and muscle tone. The different postures (or asanas) in yoga are targeted to benefit different parts of the body. Yoga can also benefit your eyes! When eye disorders are caused by the tone and behavior of the ocular muscles, rather than bacterial infection or injury, many yoga poses can help. These are a few yoga movements that help protect your eyesight:

  1. Palming. In a sitting position, rub the palms of your hands together vigorously until both palms feel significantly warmer. Place the palms of your hands on your closed eyes. Keep your palms pressed gently over your closed eyes until your palms have cooled. Practice this two more times during your practice. Palming helps reduce tensions in the eye area and allows the eyes to refocus more comfortably.
  2. Blinking. During your practice, blink both eyes 10 times very quickly. Then close your eyes and keep them closed for 20 seconds while focusing on your breath. Repeat this exercise 5 times during your practice.
  3. Sideways viewing. Sit on the mat with your legs straight out in front of you, and hold your arms out straight over your legs. Close your hands into relaxed fists with your thumbs pointing upward. Look at the spot between your eyebrows for 20 seconds, and then look at your right thumb for 20 seconds. Look at the spot between your eyebrows again for 20 seconds, and then look at your left thumb for twenty seconds. Repeat this sequence 9 more times during your practice. This asana is particularly good for those who work in front of screens most of the day, or do lots of close-vision activities. Focusing on the point between the eyebrows, know in yoga as the ‘third eye’ can stall the need for reading glasses as the eyes age.
  4. Downward dog. The classic downward dog position increases the flow of blood to the entire head, and therefore to your eyes. This relaxes and energizes the eyes at the same time.
  5. Trataka. Trataka is the practice of meditating while focusing on one point without blinking. This is most often practiced with a lit candle as the point of focus. To practice trataka, you should gaze at the flame without blinking until your eyes begin to tear up. Then close your eyes and try to recall the image of the flame for 20 seconds. Trataka traditionally is thought to improve overall eye health for those who practice it. Trataka is also said to help those who practice it to help increase their ability to focus on one object for increasingly long periods of time.
  6. Frequently closing the eyes. When we frequently close our eyes during all of the asanas in our practice, we allow our retinal cells that process color to relax and rejuvenate themselves. Closed eyes also allow the eyes to stop stimulating the brain with the images we see so our minds can relax.


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