Eye Yoga explored
In our fast-paced world, where screens are pretty much everywhere, for both work and leisure, the concept of eye health has never been more important. While COVID led to a digital explosion which then brought us convenience and practicality, it also gave rise to an epidemic of digital eye strain, myopia and other visual impairments. Eye Yoga, a trending practice, proposes itself as a natural solution to combat these issues, promoting eye health and potentially improving vision. But does it really work?
Eye yoga may not help improve your vision, however studies have confirmed that yoga ocular exercises reduce your eye fatigue by increasing ocular muscle efficiency. The exercises do in fact decrease the prevalence and incidence of your eye fatigue, minimizing asthenopia. Eye yoga exercises can be considered a non-invasive treatment method for reducing weakness or tiring of eyes accompanied by pain, headache and / or blurry vision as well as relieving the severity of your eye fatigue.
What is Eye Yoga?
Eye yoga is a set of exercises based on the principles of yoga. It aims to strengthen the muscles that control your eye movements. Just like regular yoga, it focuses on mindfulness, breathing and the harmonious movement of your eyes.
Eye Yoga Exercises
Here are some easy Eye Yoga exercises you can incorporate into your daily routine:
Blinking: Simple and efficient, blinking lubricates the eyes, reducing dryness and irritation. Sit comfortably, blink your eyes quickly about 10-15 times, then close your eyes and relax for 20 seconds. Repeat this 4-5 times.
Sideways Viewing: Extend your arms to the sides at shoulder level. With your head still, focus your gaze on your left thumb, then gradually move your gaze to the right thumb. Repeat this 5-10 times, then close your eyes and relax.
Palming: Rub your palms together until they're warm. Close your eyes and cover them with your palms. Ensure no light enters your eyes, and imagine a deep blackness. Think of this exercise as part of a rest and rejuvenation phase.
Zooming: Stretch your arm out with your thumb in the hitchhiking position. Focus on your thumb as you slowly draw it closer to your eyes. Keep focusing until your thumb is three inches in front of your face. Then move your thumb away again until your arm is fully outstretched. Repeat this process 5-10 times.
Figure of Eight: Imagine a giant figure of eight in front of you about 10 feet away. Trace the figure of eight with your eyes, slowly. Do this for a few minutes, then switch the direction.
Breathing and Relaxation
Just as breathing exercises are integral to yoga, it is no different for eye yoga. Deep, controlled breathing during these exercises helps provide more oxygen to your body, which in turn provides more oxygen to your eyes. Furthermore, it is vital to relax your eyes after each exercise to reduce any stress or tension.
Precautions and Consistency
As beneficial as Eye Yoga is to your eye fatigue, it has not been proven to be helpful for anything besides that as of this moment. It's important to have realistic expectations and remember that if you have serious eye conditions, you should consult an eye care professional before starting these exercises.
Moreover, balance your screen time with regular breaks. The '20-20-20' rule is a practical guide here: every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This habit can prevent digital eye strain and goes well with your Eye Yoga routine.
Eye Yoga and Mindfulness
Another essential aspect of Eye Yoga is mindfulness. Eye exercises should not merely be mechanical activities; they should involve deep focus and awareness. Pay attention to your eyes, their movements and how they feel, which can help you identify any strain and provide insights into your visual habits, leading to better eye care practices.
In our screen-dominated world, Eye Yoga is becoming a global trend. By spending just a few minutes a day on these simple exercises, we can potentially mitigate the adverse effects of excessive screen time and improve our eye fatigue which studies back up.
However, Eye Yoga is most definitely not a replacement for professional eye care. Regular check-ups with an ophthalmologist are essential, especially if you have vision problems. Integrating Eye Yoga into your daily routine should only be viewed as a supplemental practice and not a replacement.
Eye Yoga is, thus, an invitation to us all to pay more attention to our eyes, to care for them, and to ensure they remain healthy and robust in the face of growing digital challenges. Like any yoga practice, Eye Yoga is about creating harmony - in this case, between our eyes and the digital world. It's time we look at our screens, but also look beyond them, for the sake of our eyes.
Author: John Dreyer Optometrist Bsc(Hons), MCOPTOM, DipCLP
Created: 7 Jun 2023, Last modified: 15 Feb 2024