Updated: Nov 18
Is there such thing as yoga for the eyes? I dare say Yes, there is. The eyes are our main sense organ through which we perceive the world around us. As we spend more and more hours each day looking at screens while working at the the computer or using mobile devices, our eyes get easily strained. We need to look after them to avoid any long-term ill-effects, just as we look after other parts of our body. Stress, too, can have an effect on the eyes: We might frown a lot, creating tension and tightness in the little muscles around the eyes. Some people even experience temporary sight loss because of stress.
Yoga for the eyes
Many yoga poses use a focal point (drishti). This focusses your gaze, trains the eye muscles and concentrates the mind. For example, in Downward Facing Dog, look at your knees; in Warrior 2, at a point beyond your front middle finger; in Upward Salute look up towards your hands. Some styles of yoga (Ashtanga Yoga) use drishtis a lot, others less so.
This breathing technique exercises the muscles around the eyes, and the face in general. In an upright, seated position, inhale deeply through the nose. As you breathe out, open your mouth wide, stick the tongue out, and breathe out noisily, like a lion roaring. In addition, either open your eyes as wide as you possibly can or squeeze them together tightly.
Again, sit in an upright position. Make a fist with your right hand so that the thumb points to the left. Lift your right arm to eye level and and focus both eyes on the tip of your thumb. Slowly move your thumb towards the tip of your nose, while keeping your eyes focused on your thumb all the time. Remain in this position for about 5 seconds, then gradually move your thumb away again, looking at it throughout. Repeat this process 5 - 10 times. You can link the movement of the arm with your breathing (inhale as you move the thumb towards the nose).
For this exercise, sit upright with your eyes closed. Take a few relaxed breaths. Rub your palms together vigorously until they become warm, then cup them over your closed eyelids. Let the warmth of your hands transfer to your eyes and keep breathing in a relaxed way. Your eye muscles will relax under the influence of the soothing warmth and darkness. Remain in this position until the heat from your hands is not noticable any more, then repeat the process a couple more times.
Near and Distant Viewing
This technique is particularly beneficial if you work a lot at your computer. Stand or sit so that you can look outside and into the distance. Keep your arms relaxed and by your side. Focus your gaze on the tip of your nose for a couple of breaths. Now look outside and let your eyes drift into the distance, keep this unfocussed gaze for a couple of breaths. Repeat this process 5 - 10 times, then close your eyes and relax for a moment.
Often, when working in front of a screen, we don't blink enough or the eyes get dry because we are in a dry, dusty environment. Through blinking, you can lubricate the eyes and strengthen your eye muscles at the same time. Sit or stand comfortably, eyes open, then blink quickly 10 times. To finish, close your eyes completely and relax your eyelids for a few moments. Repeat this process 3 - 5 times.
The 20-20-20 rule
Are you working from home? How many hours a day do you spend at your desk? Quite a few I should think. So make sure that you create a healthy work environment, which will enable you to stay productive, focussed and well.
Try to follow the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break and focus your eyes on something at least 20 feet away. Use this break to walk around and to do some gentle yoga stretches.
Interested in more tips on how to stay well when working from home? Download your free guide here. This guide will give you a quick overview on how to create your work space, as well as 16 yoga poses you can do at your desk and an energizing yoga sequence.
“There is only one way to look at things - until someone shows us how to look at them with different eyes.” (Pablo Picasso)