Excessive Eye strain is an often-overlooked phenomenon of recent times. Ever since the pandemic, people are spending an excessive amount of time in front of screens. Be it work from home, online classes or an increased digital use during the pandemic, our eyes are under more strain than usual. Redness and itching in the eye have become common. An easy and safe way to reduce the effect of screen time on our eyes is Eye Yoga. According to Kamana Pereira, Head of Yoga Programs, Namami Health Retreat, it is a series of kriyas and exercises to prevent redness in the eyes and keep them healthy. Regular practise of these exercises will not only prevent redness but also relieve itching and dryness in the eyes.
Yoga Practices For Eye Health
Here are 5 kriyas and exercises to prevent redness and boost eye health.
It is a purification kriya and means “to gaze”. Trataka involves gazing at a candle or object for 2-5 minutes. Light a candle and keep it 16 to 20 inches away and make sure the tip of the flame is below eye level. Steadily gaze at the flame without blinking till tears flow. Stop if eyes start to burn or get uncomfortable, do not overstrain the eyes. Now close your eyes and visualize the object. When this image begins to fade, cup the eyes and then slowly open them. Focusing on a point purifies the eyes and strengthens the eye muscles.
20-20 Eye rule
This simple exercise involves taking a break from your screen every 20 mins and looking at something 20 feet away for a period of 20 seconds. It is based on the principle that it takes your eyes 20 seconds to completely relax. Taking breaks to look at faraway objects during screen time significantly lessens eye strain symptoms and prevents redness.
it is cleansing yogic kriya. Although it is primarily used for nasal and sinus cleansing, it has great benefits for eye health too. It involves nasal irrigation with water which keeps the sinuses free from infection and irritation. This, in turn, keeps the eyes free from underlying congestion. It also cleanses the eye duct and lubricates the eyes. Regular practice of Jal Neti can reduce eye strain and redness in the eyes. It is also believed to help with mild myopia. Performing Jal Neti is fairly simple. You need to put a quarter teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water. Then cup your palm with water and inhale the water through one nostril while blocking the other with your index finger. Allow the water to escape through the nostril or mouth. Alternate the palm for each nostril.
Kapal Randradhouti or Facial massage
This kriya is usually performed after Jal Neti. Massaging improves the blood and oxygen circulation in our body by stimulating the facial nerves. It also irrigates the cavities of the skull making it free of pollutants, bacteria & viruses and excess mucus. As a result, eye muscles relax and reduce eye strain. To do this facial massage, place your thumbs on the side of your temples and massage your forehead using your forefingers. Massage the area around your eyes in a circular motion while pinching your eyebrows along their length. After that, massage your cheeks in an upward direction. Moving your fingers left to right, massage the spaces above and below your lips. Next, massage the sides of your face and behind your ears back and forth. Look upwards and massage your neck with upward strokes. Repeat this daily.
The most beneficial and known breathing exercise in yoga, pranayama, also has benefits for eye health. This is a very calming exercise for the nervous system and the muscles. This exercise helps to keep the eye muscles relaxed and gives rest to the eyes. To perform Pranayama, sit in a cross-legged position with your eyes closed. Now place your index fingers between your eyebrows and, ring and little fingers at the base of your nostrils. Take a deep breath through the nose, hold the breath for 2-3 seconds then slowly exhale through the nose while producing a humming sound. Your mouth should be closed. While doing this, focus your attention on the centre of your eyebrows. Repeat this 5 times.
Image credits- Kamana Pereira