We have written so much about the health benefits of yoga. But we have never written about eye yoga. It might sound like a joke, but we’re not kidding: eye yoga can be beneficial. No, it’s not April Fools, and yes, eye yoga is a real thing.
If you’re reading this, you use screens in your life. The internet has enabled us to read so much information, connect to friends and generally improved many aspects of our lives. However, increased screen time hasn’t helped our eyes. Our eyes weren’t designed to stare at lit panels for hours on end, leading to strain.
“The eyes were not made to do extensive close work,” said Marc Grossman, behavioral optometrist, licensed acupuncturist and author of five books on natural eye care. “But now, almost all of our processing is happening at a near distance, and that puts extra strain on eye muscles.”
Eye strain is also called visual fatigue or asthenopia. It can cause dryness, irritation, blurred vision and headaches. While it isn’t dangerous, it is uncomfortable. Eye yoga is meant to strengthen the muscles in the eyes. It is “inspired by traditional Ayurvedic medicine, [and] developed by Dr. Bates and Dr. Agarwal in 1920, [which] aims to improve visual function by relying on the anatomy of the eye and the natural functioning of the eyes.”
Just like any other muscle, you can train your eyes to tire less quickly. One move in eye yoga is the pencil exercise. You hold a pencil flat in front of your face and keep it in focus while bringing it closer to your face while exhaling and then moving it out again while inhaling. This movement can relieve strain and act as pain relief and prevent strain from recurring. You can also do controlled versions of eye rolls, variations of movement tracking exercises and sit with your eyes open but covered so that your eyes dilate in the dark.
While eye yoga has benefits, it’s important to note that it cannot treat astigmatism, nearsightedness or farsightedness. Some people claim you can do exercises to improve your vision, but no scientific proof exists. Our vision changes throughout our lives. Exercising your eyes won’t change your prescription. Claims have also been made that eye yoga can slow the progression of glaucoma. Theoretically, it may lower pressure inside the eye, and that may help people with glaucoma. But, as of yet, no studies back that up.
Just 10 minutes of eye yoga daily can make a big difference in how your eyes feel. Start working them out now for fewer headaches and more comfortable vision!