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Don’t Turn a Blind Eye to Yoga and Ayurveda

Yoga and Ayurveda take care of every part of the body—the eyes included. Through hours of staring at the computer, watching TV, reading, and living on our smartphones, most of us tend to overuse our sense of sight. We really should give our eyes some love, just as we do the rest of the body.

Ayurveda considers overuse of the senses, called atiyoga, one of the main causes of disease. While we may not be able to cut back on the tasks that require our vision, we can use Ayurvedic tips and yogic exercises to compensate for some of the damage done. Here are six ways to apply the teachings of Ayurveda and yoga for eye health.

1. Sleep when nature intended.

Aim to be in bed by 10 p.m. and awake by 6 a.m. for restful, refreshing sleep. This schedule is stressed in Ayurveda because it synchronizes the body with the energetic patterns of nature.

2. Take frequent breaks.

Take breaks from reading and computer use. You don’t have to completely stop what you’re doing, but at least refocus at a distant object every now and then. Rotate your eyes a few times and then practice palming.

Or give yourself a soothing eye pick-me-up. Saturate two cotton pads with rose water and rest them on closed eyelids for a few minutes.

3. Eat food that’s full of prana.

Base your diet around fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables. Avoid greasy food and leftovers. The importance of diet for eye health cannot be overstated.

4. Massage the utkshepa marma.

Marmas are vital points that Ayurveda uses for healing, much like Chinese medicine uses acupuncture. The utkshepa marmas are located on the skull, two fingerbreadths above the temples. They control both eyesight and the nadis (energy channels) of the eyes. Give these marmas a very gentle, circular massage to improve vision.

5. Practice trataka, or candle gazing.

To practice the ancient yogic cleansing technique of trataka, you will need a candle and a dark room without any draft.

  • Set yourself up so that you can sit comfortably with a candle’s flame at eye level, about an arm’s length away.
  • Close your eyes, relax your jaw, and release any tension in your shoulders. Commit to physical stillness.
  • Open your eyes and gaze at the flame. Keep your drishti (focal point) steady and try not to blink. Observe the flame as it flickers and changes shape. Gently bring your attention back to the flame whenever your mind wanders. Do this for a minute or so, closing your eyes when they feel tired or start to water.
  • Now, even with your eyes closed, keep your focus on the image of the flame that appears between your eyes. When the image wavers, try to bring it back to the area of the internal third eye.
  • When the inner image of the flame is gone, open your eyes and again gaze at the candle’s flame. Do this for a minute or so and then close your eyes. Again focus your awareness on the image of the flame at the third eye.
  • Repeat this cycle one or two more times.
  • Close your eyes and rest for a moment. Rub your palms together until they’re warm. Gently cup them over your eyes until the warmth dissipates. Repeat this process two more times.

6. Exercise your eyes, the yogi way.

Spend a couple of minutes practicing these yogic eye exercises.

  • Sit comfortably. Lengthen your spine.
  • Close your eyes, relax your jaw, and release any tension in your shoulders. Take a few breaths.
  • Open your eyes and soften your gaze. Without moving your head, slowly gaze toward the sky. Then lower your gaze toward the floor. Repeat this movement five more times, keeping your head perfectly still. Close your eyes for a few breaths.
  • Again open your eyes and soften your gaze. Without moving your head, slowly gaze toward the left. Then gaze toward the right. Repeat this movement five more times. Close your eyes for a few breaths.
  • Once more, open your eyes with a soft gaze. Keeping your head still, rotate your eyes in clockwise circles. Repeat this movement five more times. Then rotate your eyes counterclockwise six times.
  • Close your eyes and rest for a moment. Rub your palms together until they’re warm. Gently cup them over your eyes until the warmth dissipates. Repeat this process two more times.

Practice the eye exercises daily, trataka a couple times each week, and the Ayurvedic tips as part of your daily routine for overall eye health.

Julie Bernier
Julie Bernier
Julie Bernier teaches women the art of self-care so that they feel their healthiest and happiest in their own unique bodies. This holistic approach to individualized wellness is rooted in the ancient Indian knowledge of ayurveda: a complete medical science and way of life which explains that our wellbeing blossoms when we align ourselves with nature. Julie is a registered ayurvedic practitioner by the Association of Ayurvedic Professionals of North America (AAPNA), a Certified Massage Therapist, and a classical hatha yoga teacher. She studied each of these modalities in the US and straight from the source in India. Connect with Julie at trueayurveda.com, on Instagram, or on Facebook. True Ayurveda, Facebook, or Instagram.

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