Our eyes are some of our most used organs. In fact, over half of the brain’s tissues are related to vision. So much of the information our brains get about the world is visual. That means our eyes are critical to how we interpret our surroundings, make decisions, and build perspectives. Our eyes are under a lot of pressure! For this reason and many more, yogis (those who mastered yoga) discovered the positive results of doing yoga for eye health. Practicing yoga can improve your eye muscles’ agility, reduce eye strain and tension, and improve conditions that affect your vision. Here are eight simple eye exercises you can do.
8 Eye Asanas for Your Yoga Eye Health Practice
To start off your practice, begin in a comfortable standing or seated position. Your body’s muscles should be relaxed but still engaged. Start with a gentle gaze ahead of you; allow your eyes to focus on something a few meters away for 30 seconds. Then, open your eyes as wide as you can and blink 10 distinct times. You’ll notice a sensation of relief and stretch in your lid muscles. Close your eyes for 30 seconds and follow up be repeating this routine four more times. This asana increases blood flow to your eyes, encourages eye lubrication, and stretches the muscles.
In the same relaxed position, rub your palms together. Warm them up with friction and then gently place them over your closed eyes. Feel the warmth of your palms warm up your eyes. This will feel very soothing and calming. Focus on breathing evenly as you palm. Our eyes are always working when they’re open, that’s why we need to sleep every night and close them. By incorporating palming into your daily practice, you give your eyes a bonus break they desperately need.
3. Nose Gazing
Many of us use a computer for work or spend way too much time staring at our cellphone screens. Both of those activities are using your close-up, or near, vision. Our eye muscles contract for us to be able to focus on objects up close; they can easily get tired and strained. To relieve this tension, it’s important to practice looking at objects at different distances away.
In your yoga practice, try nose gazing. Start by placing a thumb on the tip of your nose. Stare at your thumb with both eyes for a couple seconds. Then, slowly stretch out your arm pulling your thumb away from your nose. Follow your thumb with your eyes. When your arm is fully stretched out, look into the distance and rest your eyes there for 20 seconds. Move your arm slowly from one side to the other, following your thumb with your eyes. Ensure you keep your neck still so that your eyes must use their muscles to turn.
4. Shoulder Stand
This pose is excellent for increasing blood flow to the optic nerve and the brain. Start by lying flat on your back on your yoga mat. With your palms face down on either side of your body, lift your legs straight above your hips. Push into the mat with your hands and lift your hips up as well. Then, use your hands to stabilize your hips and buttocks. Tuck your chin and neck in to prevent strain. Hold this position for at least one minute, allowing blood to flow down towards your head. When you release, slowly lower your back and legs so they don’t slam onto the floor abruptly.
When we’re stressed or busy, sometimes we forget to breathe deeply. Understandably, we get so consumed by our lives that we don’t even notice when our muscles or organs are lacking oxygen. This asana is perfect for improving our breathing, blood circulation, and relaxation of our muscles. Start by sitting in a comfortable position and closing your eyes. Place the thumb of your right hand on your right nostril. As you inhale, the air can only go in your left nostril. Before exhaling, remove your thumb and close your left nostril by placing your right pinky finger on it. This whole inhale-exhale movement should take 10 seconds. Four seconds to inhale, two seconds to hold the air, then four seconds to exhale. Repeat anuloma for 30 seconds.
6. Bhramari Pranayama
This asana is excellent for settling your mind, relaxing your body, and soothing your eyes. In a comfortable seated position, close your eyes. Place your index fingers across your eyelids horizontally. Now, as you inhale, make a buzzing sound. Some call this “bee breathing” because of the sound you make. When you buzz, put slight pressure on your eyes. Then release the pressure when you exhale. Repeat this asana for one minute.
7. Kapalbhati Pranayama
One benefit of breathing exercises in yoga is that they cleanse your lungs and improve blood circulation. This asana is exceptional for that reason. Start by sitting comfortably against a wall. Rest your hands on your legs and gently close your eyes. After a deep exhale, begin inhaling in sharp, staccato breaths. You should focus on your abdomen and notice the quick jolts as you inhale. When your lungs are full, hold the air for a couple seconds, the begin exhaling the same way you inhaled. Short, jolting breaths. Repeat this breathing asana for 30 seconds.
The best way to end your practice is with shavasana. The various stretches and poses you’ve done likely held your body in positions it’s not used to. You may feel some tenderness or soreness. Or, you could feel exhilarated. Either way, it’s important to close your practice with a moment of relaxation and re-centering. Shavasana is comprised of laying flat on your back and closing your eyes. Focus on keeping your breathing slow and even. Meditate on each body part, scanning your body from toes to head. How does everything feel? When you get to your eyes, assess how they feel. Use this time with your eyes closed to give them one final rest before you get on with the rest of your day.
These are just a few ways you can use yoga to improve vision. As with any muscles in the body, exercise is important. These simple yoga exercises can offer a nice break from your busy daily routine, reduce stress and relieve eye strain, and they only take a few minutes. Using yoga alongside a healthy diet filled with vision-healthy vitamins, mineral and herbs, and other forms of moderate exercise is a great way to naturally improve and sharpen your eyesight.