Yoga is beneficial for the body, increasing its flexibility and counteracting back pain, headaches and insomnia, and for the mind, calming obsessive thoughts and anxiety, this is well documented and confirmed by scientific studies. However, what was ignored until now was that some yoga exercises can be beneficial for eyesight, helping to reduce eye pressure, supporting the functionality of the retina and reducing eye strain. This is what emerges from a recent scientific research that appeared in the International Journal of Yoga thanks to a collaboration between Japanese and Macedonian scientists (Galina et al, Int J Yoga, 2020).
Physical exercise and eyesight
Physical activity can be really beneficial as regards the health of eyesight. For example, moderate running and cycling have been shown to help reduce eye pressure, thus protecting vision from the risk of visual impairment. Yoga is a practice that brings benefits in case of various problems that can affect body and mind, from sadness to anxiety, from sciatica to the neck. Well, yoga also plays an important role with regard to vision health, as can be seen from the research we are talking about today.
How yoga helps reduce eye pressure and improve eyesight
Scientists recruited 31 volunteers. Before the yoga session, the volunteers underwent an eye examination to assess eye pressure, visual acuity and the state of health of the macula. Later, the study participants took part in a 10-minute yoga exercise class dedicated to the eyes. At first, for a few minutes, the volunteers were asked to sit in a comfortable position and take slow, deep breaths.
Then, eye exercises followed with slow and continuous movements horizontally, vertically, obliquely, right from top to bottom, left from top to bottom, always bringing the eyes to the limit possible.
Then the volunteers warmed their hands by rubbing them together and placed their palms on their eyes in the palming exercise, without pressing on the eyeballs. After these exercises, the study participants underwent an eye examination again. What emerged was that eye pressure decreased while the thickness of the macula, which is the central part of the retina, increased. An increase in the thickness of the macula is associated with an improvement in visual acuity. It is believed that the action of yoga exercises is manifold. On the one hand, in fact, slow and deep breathing increases oxygen saturation in the blood and this in turn reduces eye pressure. Moving your eyes continuously in different directions is like stretching the eye muscles. This works as a pump that improves intra-orbital blood circulation. Finally, hand warmth during palming has been shown to reduce eye pressure.
As for the thickness of the macula, this increases following a reduction in ocular pressure, as demonstrated by scientific studies. Finally, this same sequence of eye exercises has been shown, in the long run, about a month and a half, to reduce eye fatigue.
Here is another proof that yoga is beneficial for body, mind and, from today, we also know for eyesight. Small exercises that take up a few minutes a day but that can really make a difference and give us more health and well-being.