Although the eyes don’t put on weight, they work just as hard as any other organ in the human body. In our physical yoga practice, there’s a stretch for every part of the body and the eyes are no exception. Our organs of sight are constantly stimulated throughout the day from the moment we wake to the moment we close our eyes before bed. Whether you wear glasses, contacts, or have perfect vision, the 6 muscles that connect the eye to the eye socket are constantly working to meet your daily vision demands.
Eye fatigue is common when muscles lose flexibility and tone due to tedious visual activities manifesting in pain, tiredness, headaches, and even blurred or double vision. However, small changes like exercising the eyes, keeping them sharp, and even improving your diet can reduce eye strain and actually improve eyesight.
Try out these simple exercises to give your eyes a rest.
After staring at a computer screen all day, palming can help relax muscles and reduce tension.
- Rub your palms together to create heat
- Hold cupped hands, without pressing, over your eyes for 5-10 minutes
- Allow your eyes to relax in complete darkness and embrace the warm prana emanating from your palms
Intensely focusing and working up-close limits the eyes to blink less. Rapid blinking loosens eye muscles and prevents dry eyes.
- Loosen your jaw and separate your lips
- Relax any tension from your face
- Blink rapidly focusing on a point for 20 seconds
- Repeat 5X while checking in with your breath
Cartwheels, Burpees, and Planks
Just as we swing our hips to warm up our pelvic joint or arm circles to bring circulation to your shoulder joint, moving the eyes in big circles helps release tension.
- Keeping the head, neck, and spine still, relax your body.
- Slowly work your eyes in a clockwise motion around the numbers of a clock
- When you reach back to start, rest with the palming method
- Move in the counterclockwise direction
- Try at least 10 circles each direction
Burpees & Planks
- Relax your facial muscles and visualize a clock in front of you
- Start from 12 o’clock and move your way to 6’o clock
- Repeat upward and downward movements 20 times.
- Close your eyes to reset and take 5 deep breaths
- Open your eyes and start again but this time making your way from 9’oclock to 3’oclock
- Repeat lateral motions 20 times
Trataka is a technique mentioned in yogi and Ayurveda texts such as the Upanishads and Hatha Yoga Pradipika to name a few. Trataka is used to develop internal visualization and enhance concentration.
- Light a candle and place it three feet away from you
- Gaze at the flame and maintain your breathe
- When your eyes begin to tear, close your eyes
- Rest in darkness while focusing on the after image
Breaking away from your computer screen every 20 minutes can help alleviate eye strain. A good rule of thumb is the 20/20/20 rule. Every 20 minutes take 20 seconds to stare at an object 20 feet away from you. Breaking bad habits and creating good patterns can prevent age-related visual conditions and improve visual acuity.
Sarvangna Asanaor, also known as shoulder stand, or any type of inversion can increase blood flow to the brain and eyes. Blood circulation stimulates the optic nerve as well as the major organs to improve their performance and function.
It’s the eyes that lead us through the day and get as home after a long day. Prevent blurry vision in the future by exercising your eyes and reconnecting with your breath. These exercises can be done at any time of the day and all you need is the willingness to give your eyes a well-deserved rest.
Christin Lee is a yoga instructor, entrepreneur, and lifestyle blogger living in NYC. She currently writes for InsiderEnvy with an emphasis and focus on fitness, health, and universal human rights.