It is no secret that eye exercises have been part of general yoga practices for centuries. It made sense to the yogis that vision could be strengthened, maintained and improved just like the other parts of the body. After Will’s 30 days of Bikram yoga challenge we got thinking about the similarities between a daily yoga practice and a daily practice of maintaining vision.
Vision Yoga as a Concept
There are many more elements to yoga, but we chose 5 key elements from yoga that correlate well with an eye exercise program that maintains vision. These five are: balance, strength, flexibility, blood flow and relaxation. We hope that highlighting these common elements between yoga and vision will make it easier for those who already have a yoga practice to incorporate eye exercises into their daily yoga practice. Together these two yogas can help maintain the wellness of vision and body and even improve eyesight.
Vision Yoga Principle 1 -Balance
In yoga you want to balance the muscles in the body to help hold the positions. The same principle can applied to vision. When doing yoga for the eyes you want to balance between your two eyes and balance between central vision and peripheral vision. This helps to avoid eye strain, gives the individual a sense of wellness and improves eyesight.
Vision Yoga Principle 2 – Strength
Just like full body yoga the eye has muscles that need to be strengthened in order to maintain and improve vision. In particular we want to strengthen the cilliary muscles to prevent or overcome presbyopia (age related farsightedness). The cilliary muscles are responsible for rounding the lens when looking at near objects. So by keeping these muscles strong we maintain the eye’s ability to see clearly from near.
Vision Yoga Principle 3 – Flexibility
Another challenge with Presbyopia is a stiffening of the lens, so by keeping the lens flexible we maintain our ability to focus on near objects. By keeping the muscles that are responsible for moving the eyes (extra ocular muscles) flexible we can reduce any strain that tightness in these external muscles is causing. This makes the natural visual process of moving our eyes from detail to detail easier to preform.
Vision Yoga Principle 4 -Blood Flow
Increased and improved blood flow is a key component of yoga although many people don’t necessarily identify it as a benefit from their practice. The body must have good circulation in order for it to function at its best. The same is also true for the eyes. In order to maintain vision we must have efficient transportation of nutrients to the eyes and waste removal away from the eyes.
When this transportation breaks down we get problems. A good example is macular degeneration. The eye needs a sufficient amount of lutien to be deliverd so it can stay healthy. The eye also needs to have the waste which is being built up from the visual process (drusen) to be taken away. If this waste accumulates there will be damage to the central vision or dry macular degeneration.
Vision Yoga Principle 5 -Relaxation
Think how good you feel when you get that chance to finally relax at the end of a long day. Well our eyes feel the same way. Unfortunately in our modern day lives the activities we choose to relax like reading, watching TV and looking through old friends profiles on facebook (everyone does it!) are not relaxing to our eyes. If anything our eyes are having to work harder. Using eye exercises to give your eyes the time they need to relax allows overall vision wellness to return.
Question of the week
In the question of the week this week we discuss how to perform the Palming Eye Exercise without putting pressure on the eyeballs.
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