Yogic exercises have existed for centuries and can help keep eye muscles sharp as well as relax the eyes. These exercises are intended for people who have generally healthy eyes but who suffer from eye strain or overly tired eyes, often due to heavy computer usage.
Yoga provides a series of eye exercises that improves the functioning of the eyes and helps to overcome various eye-related problems, such as short sightedness and long sightedness. These disorders are usually overcome using powerful glasses and lenses which correct the refractive errors of the eye. However one needs to understand that glasses never cure bad eyesight. In fact, using powerful glasses can worsen eye problems. Therefore, one should use glasses only when absolutely necessary.
Other than a few diseases such as cataract and glaucoma which occur due to bacterial infections, many eye disorders are related to the malfunctioning of the ocular muscles caused by chronic mental and emotional tensions. Yoga techniques help to alleviate various disorders related to defects in the eye muscles such as myopia and hypermetropia.
Practicing these yoga eye exercises regularly for a few months can go a long way in facilitating the normal functioning of our eyes.
Note: Before starting these exercises, it is always recommended to splash your eyes with cold water a few times. Remember to keep the head and spine straight throughout the exercises.
Sit quietly with eyes closed and take some deep breaths to relax yourself completely.
Rub the palms of your hands vigorously, until they become warm and place the palms gently over your eye lids. Feel the warmth of the palms being transferred onto the eyes and the eye muscles relaxing. Your eyes are being bathed in soothing darkness. Stay in this position until the heat from the hands has been completely absorbed by the eyes. Keeping the eyes closed, lower the hands. Once again rub the palms and repeat the process at least three times.
Sit comfortably with your eyes open. Blink around 10 times very quickly.
Close your eyes and relax for 20 seconds and slowly take your attention to your breath.
Repeat this exercise 5 times.
As illustrated above, these eye stretches are horizontal, vertical, diagonal, circular and internal gaze. Practice each one slowly and mindfully for 20 seconds with a rest between each one, breathing relaxed and deeply. Then if you feel good repeat a 2nd round of the exercises.
Accommodation (the process of eyes changing focus) is probably the most often performed function of the eyes. When people depend on glasses, their eyes become lazy which eventually leads to weakening in accommodation ability and their eye muscles.
This eye yoga exercise rectifies that.
Try exercise 1 as a warm up.
Now your ready for some focusing exercises. By focusing on objects at different distances, you exercise your eyes in focusing at distances both far away and near as well as provide relief from eyestrain. There are two types of focusing exercises you can try.
Hold a pen at arm’s length. Focus your gaze on the tip of the pen. Bring the pen closer to your nose at a slow and steady pace. Repeat this exercise 5 times.
Concentrate your vision on the tip of your nose. Then shift your gaze to an object further away, either at arm’s length or 10 metres away. Then shift your eyes back to the tip of your nose. Repeat this exercise 10 times. Be inventive and challenge yourself. Choose objects at several different distances to focus your eyes on.
To put it briefly, Trataka – also called Yogic gazing – is a practice where the gaze is fixed on an object for some time and then that object is visualized clearly with the eyes closed, as an inner image at the eyebrow center.
Trataka has several benefits which would be helpful to every one and not only mediation aspirants. Trataka is believed to have a helpful effect in treating and even resolving several eye disorders such as weak eyesight. It improves the internal and external optic function. It improves concentrative powers and mental resolve. It helps in disconnecting with the noise and distractions of the external world. This is deeply relaxing. In yoga, it is said to also develop the third eye – the seat of intuition or that associated with psychic powers.
Light a candle and place it on a small table around 1 metre in front of you. Sit in a comfortable posture with the spine upright and the arms and shoulders relaxed. You can assume any meditative posture which you can maintain without any movement for the duration of the Trataka practice.
Make sure that the flame is at the level of your eyes. Also, make sure that you are facing the candle directly without having to turn the neck even slightly. It is important that the flame remains steady during the concentration routine. So, make sure that there no breeze around of any kind to disturb the flame. If needed, turn off any fans or air conditioner in the room.
Take a few deep breaths to relax. Close the eyes and watch your breath as you inhale and exhale for about five to seven breaths. This will allow the breath to settle down and bring you into the present moment. Now, gaze at the flame intently and keep your gaze on it without getting distracted towards outer disturbances and thoughts.
Keep your vision focused and steady on the flame without blinking, for as long as it is comfortable to you. Try to avoid any kind of body movement during the entire practice. Keep your gaze anchored on some part of the flame, rather than the candle or wick. If thoughts come up in the mind, just become aware of them and then ignore them. Try to maintain your awareness and focus on the flame.
Continue to gaze at the flame until you cannot keep your eyes open and tears start flowing. Once this happens, close your eyes. When you close the eyes, you may be able to visualize an after-image of the flame with closed eyes. Try to bring this image at the point between the eyebrows at the center of the forehead (the third eye location).
The depth and level of your concentration will determine how clear the after-image is. If you cannot visualize the after-image of the flame with closed eyes, or it wavers constantly or looses clarity, then re-apply your concentration to restore the position of the after-image. When the image begins to fade out completely, bring your awareness back to your breathing and begin to watch the flow of breath at the tip of the nose for about 7 to 8 breaths. You can open your eyes at this point and repeat the full gazing routine as given above one more time.
After doing any of the above eye exercises it is a very nice practice to lay in Shavasana, the yogic corpse pose with a lavender eye pillow for 10 minutes in a state of relaxation.
Here are 2 good videos on Yoga for eyesight.
Another interesting article on eyesight and the health hazards new technology.
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