Eye Yoga is a wellness trend that consumers are practicing for better eye focus and a heightened sense of calm, especially helpful considering the amount of eye strain caused by usingdifferent devices. Called Ashtanga yoga, the treatment includes eye rolling, asanas, pranayama and meditation.
Eye yoga focuses on the movement and stretching the muscles around the eyes.1 With continued practice, the eye muscles will become stronger and find more length, according to yoga teacher Chatty Dobson. This treatment helps stimulate the corpus callosum, which can be thought of as the super highway to the brain's right and left sides.2
The practice itself includes six phases.
- Stretch. While relaxing the muscles of the face, wiggle the jaw and eyebrows with the eyes gently closed. Keep the eyes closed and look all the way up counting to four. Slowly, look all the way down and count to four. Repeat this three times. Next look to the left with the eyes closed and count to four, and then look to the right with the eyes closed counting to four. Repeat this three times. After that, look top left to bottom right then top right to bottom left.1
- Strengthen. Blink as fast as possible 10 times, and then close the eyes and slowly count to five. Repeat this five times. Sit for a while longer after doing this to notice any sensations that arise.1
- Focus. Sit tall with your arms out straight, and put your hand in the "thumbs up" position. Look at your thumb nail and hold for a count of four. Then, slowly bring your thumb towards your nose until your eyes can no longer focus. Hold this for another count of four. Slowly extend your arm again, keeping your focus on the thumbnail throughout. Repeat five times.1
- Near and distant viewing. Find two points to focus on, one at a distance and one much closer. Start by focusing on the distant object for a couple of long breathing cycles and then shifting the gaze to the closer object. It's important to wait for the eyes to change focus to the closer object before starting the breathing exercises again. Repeat 10 times.3
- Palming. Invented by Tibetan yogis, this step involves cupping the hands gently over the eyes. Sit with the eyes closed and concentrate on the darkness. Soon, you will notice all sorts of flickering lights, which come from optic nerve irritation and overload. Once the light starts to vanish, slowly remove your palms and gradually open your eyes. They may feel a bit sensitive, so don't stare at anything too bright.3
- Nasikagra drishti. Meaning "nose-tip gazing," you begin this exercise by sitting comfortably on your couch with your back upright. Relax the shoulders and place your palms on the knees. Slowly shift your gaze to the tip of your nose without straining your eyes. Release the eyes once there is any sort of discomfort. Repeat five times or more.3
One of the main benefits of eye yoga is that it helps eyes to look brighter and more awake.1 This wellness practice can also help minimize deterioration of eye focus, which naturally occurs with age.1
This trend has actually been around in the yoga community for quite some time, and was originally used to help strengthen eyesight as well as engage the brain and build brain health.2 More specifically, exercising the oculi can improve concentration and coordination by stimulating the bundle of nerves connecting the left and right parts of the brain.2 The sub occipital muscles, which are located on the back of the neck, are also stimulated during this practice.3 When stretching your eye muscles, this is simultaneously stretching and releasing tension on your sub occipital muscles to relax muscular strain on the neck, which can help improve overall balance.3