A few years ago, I attended a workshop on "yoga and eye care" taught by one Dr. Khare who was visiting from India. The workshop presented a pretty comprehensive set of practices for improving/stabilizing vision. Part of the information was based on the book, "Better Eyesight without Glasses" by William Bates. This book came out in the forties and has been a standard resource for eye care ever since. Recently I found this website which also provides similar information in a detailed manner – "The Complete book of Eye Care" – http://eye.taragana.com/ by Dr. M. S. Agarwal. I am presenting below the "7-step Program" in a condensed version of these practices.
I suggest that you add at least a subset of the eye exercises given here as a part of your home yoga practice. Those who have attended my yoga classes will recognize many of these exercises as we try to pick a different exercise for each class. Personally, I have found that regular eye exercises have helped me maintain my eye prescription the same for at least fifteen years now. I use glasses only for reading and computer work and have given up using them for driving or outdoor work
- Eye exercises
- Neck and shoulder exercises
- Strict diet plan
- Yoga Asanas
- Cleansing techniques
In all the exercises given here, try to move the eyes in a smooth and continuous movement. The intent is to stretch and exercise the eye muscles and the optical nerves. However, no strain should be felt while doing these exercises.
- Vertical movement 10 times, relax
- Horizontal movement 10 times, relax
- Diagonal (each) movement 10 times, relax
- Circular rotation clockwise/counter-clockwise 10 times each, relax
- Hold thumb straight ahead, eye level, and bring it close to the eyes (3-4 inches away), first with both eyes open, and then alternately with one eye closed.
- Hold right thumb straight ahead and move it slowly to the far right (inhale) and bring it back in front (exhale). Maintain the head in the center and follow the movement of the thumb through the corner of the eyes without moving the head. Repeat on the other side with the left thumb stretched out.
- Stretch both thumbs straight in front. Keep the head in the center and start moving both arms to either side. Keep the head in the center and follow the movement of the thumbs through the periphery of the eyes.
- Bounce a ball in a v-shape from one hand to the other and follow the movement of the ball with the eyes.
- Elephant swing: From a standing position, bend forward with feet 1 foot apart. Bend the knees, hands together, hang them down and swing like the trunk of an elephant, looking down on the floor.
- Take a sculpture/picture etc. and look at it for about 30-45 seconds. Close eyes and visualize the object with the eyes closed and relaxed. For memory, imagination and vision. Use a different object each day.
- Distance accommodation: look at a tree for 30 sec, then look at the palm, all the lines on the palm, for 30 sec, blink and see (5 times)
- Palming: close eyes with palms and meditate for about 15-20 minutes. Watch your breath and chant the mantra. Visualize black wool/ black velvet in front of the eyes, and visualize that the technique is actually curing the eyes.
- Read in candle light (10 minutes)
- Eyebrows with thumb- sideways from the center out
- Bony orbital rim (just under the eyes)
- In the top inside corner of the eyes
- Upper bony nose (bridge)- massage up and down
- Prominent cheek bone- small rotation
Neck and Shoulder Exercises:
- Massage the neck – up and down using both hands, then massage the shoulders.
- Chin to chest and then head up looking backwards. (keep tongue touching the pallet) – 3 times
- Circular (360 degrees) neck movement, once in each direction (3 rounds)
- Shoulder rotation (10 times each direction)
- Full arm rotation (10 times each direction)
Proper Diet Plan
A diet consisting of vegetarian, low fat, fresh food (called "sattvic" diet) is recommended. Try to eat more of sprouts, vegetables (heavy on carrots, broccoli and cabbage), salads, fruits, nuts. Avoid white sugar and use little salt. Use honey or brown sugar, if you must. Avoid putting toxins in the body – caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, dope, drugs, uppers (e.g., cocaine), downers (e.g., sedatives), deep fried foods, processed foods and most chemical preservatives in packaged foods are toxic. Some useful "diet guidelines" are available on my website here.
Asana, Pranayama and Meditation
This is your basic yoga practice based on either the classes that I teach or any other yoga system that you may like to follow. For better eye care, include deep relaxation (yoga nidra) in the practice routine.
Use 0.5 gallons of water with ½ spoon of trifala (available at Indian grocery stores). Boil the water and let it cool overnight. Next morning wash the eyes with this water. Also, splash cold water on the eyes every morning.
Sunbathing the eyes
Early morning, allow indirect sunlight into the eyes. At sunset and sunrise, look directly into the sun for a short period of time.
Trataka is one of the six cleansing techniques (shad-kriya) in yoga. Light a candle and keep it at eye level at a distance of about six feet. Sit comfortably and gaze at the candle flame without blinking for about 2-3 minutes. If eyes begin to water before then, close the eyes. Once the eyes are closed, try to gaze internally at the after-image of the candle flame at the back of your mind’s eye. Repeat this whole routine one more time. This routine will help you strengthen and relax the eye muscles. Also, it is used as a practice developing focus and concentration and can be used as a prelude to meditation. At the end of this practice, you may like to continue with your palming or traditional meditation. Please get all details here.
Jala Neti (Nasal Wash)
Jala Neti is a simple technique which involves using a special "neti pot" filled with warm, slightly salted water. The nose cone is inserted into one nostril and the position of the head and pot is adjusted to allow the water to flow out of the other nostril. Whilst the water is flowing through the nasal passages one breathes through the mouth. After half a pot has flowed in one direction, the water flow is reversed. Please see details here.
I would love to get your feedback.