by Shannon Funk, RYT
The muscles of your eyes and the nerves in your eyes can become weak, strained and can even degenerate, leading to a multitude of vision and other health problems. Being proactive can have huge benefits as far as keeping your eyes and your vision healthy and functioning optimally. Eating a healthy diet that contains lots of green leafy vegetables, salmon, eggs, nut and beans, wearing sunglasses with proper UVA/UVB protection, wearing protective eyewear when appropriate, not smoking and incorporating fitness are all ways to be proactive in terms of the health of your eyes.
Yoga is a great way to incorporate fitness into your life, and ‘eye yoga’ is something that can be done daily with measurable results. There are many ways you can incorporate your eyes into your yoga practice, listen to your yoga instructor when they say to “follow your gaze” or to “look at your fingertips”; these are cues to help you include your eyes into your practice. Utilizing your eyes this way stretches, strengthens and tones all of the little muscles and nerves in and around your eyes, as well as the optic nerve, which feeds directly to the brain and contributes greatly to overall feelings of anxiety, tension or conversely, calmness and ease.
Even if you do not go to a full yoga class each day you can still take 5 minutes to devote solely to your eyes.
Sit in a comfortable position and spread your arms out wide to each side, just so when looking straight ahead you can see your fingers in your peripheral vision, you may need to play around with where the best place to hold your arms is, you need to be able to see your fingers.Wiggle your fingers but still look straight ahead. The key here is to really ‘look’ at your fingers, although you are not looking directly at them. Do this for about 1-2 minutes.
Next spread your arms about as far as they will go and do a ‘thumbs up’ with both thumbs and while keeping your head straight, just using your eyes look right to left at each thumb, back and forth 5 times each side.
Keeping your thumbs up raise one arm up at a diagonal and rest your other hand with thumbs up on it’s corresponding thigh; keeping your head straight and just using your eyes look up at the raised thumb and own at the lowered thumb 5 times each side and then switch, lower raised hand and raised lowered hand.
Then move raised hand to the center and lowered hand to center of your lap and look straight up and down 5 times.
All together you will have moved both eyes in all directions with intention and focus. Finish with a brief rest, close your eyes and bring the heels of your hands to rest gently over your closed eyes, with just a soft pressure on your eyeballs for a gentle release.
Keep in mind your head does not turn for any of these exercises and they need to be done gently and slowly, no rush, and all it will take is 5 minutes of your day!
Shannon Funk teaches a weekly Yoga Class at AIM on Wednesday afternoons. Check out her bio and our whole Yoga Schedule on our website, www.alpineintegratedmedicine.com!