AYURVEDA & YOGA FOR THE EYES

By Diana Bellofatto

By Diana Bellofatto

Ayurveda classifies five tanmatras (subtle elements) used for sense perception—sight/form, taste, sound, touch, and smell. It explains that energy escapes from the eyes, mouth, ears, and nose. Of all the “doorways” from which energy escapes, the eyes release the most—up to 80% of energy is lost when the eyes are open. You can also factor in that the eyes receive a major workout from all the impressions they ingest throughout the day. Eye strain from computer usage, driving, reading, etc. can leave the eyes tired, burning, and depleted.

“Open your eyes, for this world is only a dream.” —Rumi

Ayurveda for the Eyes

Quality of life is greatly affected by the health of the eyes. Ayurvedic treatments for the eyes can help preserve and rejuvenate eyesight.

Preventative Eye Care

  • Salt wears down the eyes. Favor a more gentle salt such as pink Himalayan salt.
  • Bathe the eyes in cool water each morning upon rising.
  • Many jobs require prolonged amounts of time staring at a computer screen. Consider purchasing blue light eye glasses or filters to put over the computer screen to help attenuate stress put on the eyes.
  • Paying attention to diet is important. Reduce or avoid foods with very heating spices such as wasabi and very hot chili peppers, fried foods, processed, and fast food. Alcohol and tobacco are also enemies of the eyes.
  • On a spiritual and emotional level, care for the eyes by avoiding watching anything that is disturbing or stressful such as violent movies. Take breaks from the news channels. Instead, infuse the eyes with beautiful sights by taking walks in nature or sitting face to face with a loved one in the diad of a quiet meditative eye embrace.
  • Avoid napping and staying up late.
  • Wear sunglasses, especially in midday sun.
  • Meditate with eyes closed to preserve energy and rest the eyes.

Alleviate Dry Eyes

  • Place a drop of castor oil in each eye at bedtime (massage the soles of the feet with a little bit of castor oil, too!).
  • Cucumber slices over the eyes moisten, cool and soothe.

Alleviate Tired/Strained Eyes

  • Place cotton balls soaked in goat’s milk over the eyes.
  • Triphala eye wash is a universal solution for many eye imbalances. Stir 1/2 tsp. triphala powder into one cup boiled water. (If you don’t have triphala powder, you can crush two triphala tablets into powder.) Allow the water to cool and then, strain the triphala from the water. At bedtime, use an eye cup to bathe the eyes in the triphala water for 3–5 minutes while blinking occasionally. Or, place the triphala water in swim goggles and do both eyes at once!

Yoga for the Eyes

Trataka

Trataka doubles as a meditation and serves to cleanse and strengthen the eyes. During trataka, your gaze is fixed on the flame of the ghee lamp with eyes open, while trying to avoid blinking. This strengthens and cleanses the eyes, calms the mind and heightens intuition.

Directions

  1. Use a ghee lamp with a cotton wick. Ghee and a cotton wick balance out the heat of the flame, as opposed to staring at a candle or fire which can overheat and strain the eyes.
  2. Sit in an attentive, upright position in a dark room with the ghee lamp at eye level, about one and a half feet from yourself.
  3. Join the thumb and index finger of each hand and place them palm up or palm down on your thighs.
  4. With eyes open, place your gaze on the tip of the flame. (You can also begin at the base of the flame, shift your gaze to the middle of the flame and finally, to the tip of the flame.)
  5. With eyes open, try to avoid blinking and gaze upon the flame until your eyes begin to tear.
  6. Then, close your eyes until the image of the flame disappears.
  7. Repeat this several times, then, sit with eyes closed for a few minutes, gazing internally at the space between the eyebrows and just a little bit higher, on the forehead.

Eye Yoga

Who knew our eyes could benefit from yoga as much as our minds and bodies? Try these five exercises to relax your eyes and maybe even improve your vision!

Palming

  1. Sit quietly with eyes closed and take some deep breaths to relax yourself completely.
  2. Rub the palms of your hands vigorously, until they become warm and place the palms gently over your eye lids.
  3. Feel the warmth of the palms being transferred onto the eyes and the eye muscles relaxing. Your eyes are being bathed in soothing darkness.
  4. Stay in this position until the heat from the hands has been completely absorbed by the eyes.
  5. Keeping the eyes closed, lower the hands.
  6. Once again rub the palms and repeat the process at least three times

Blinking

  1. Sit comfortably with your eyes open.
  2. Blink around 10 times very quickly.
  3. Close your eyes and relax for 20 seconds. Slowly take your attention to your breath.
  4. Repeat this exercise five times.

Sideways Viewing

  1. Sit with legs straight in front of the body.
  2. Now lift the arms keeping your fist closed and your thumbs pointing upward.
  3. Look at a point straight in front of you in level with your eyes.
  4. Keep the head in this fixed position, focus on the following one after the other, by shifting your vision to the
    • Space between the eyebrows
    • Left thumb
    • Space between the eyebrows
    • Right thumb
    • Space between the eyebrows
    • Left thumb
  5. Observe the following breathing pattern as you perform the above exercise
    • Inhale in the neutral position
    • Exhale while looking to the side
    • Inhale and come back to the center
  6. Repeat this exercise 10 to 20 times. Then, close your eyes and rest.

Front and Sideways Viewing

  1. Sit with legs straight in front of the body.
  2. Then place the left [closed] fist on the left knee ensuring that the thumb points upwards.
  3. Look at a point straight in front and in level with your eyes. 
  4. Keep the head in this fixed position.
  5. Breathing out, focus your eyes on the left thumb.
  6. Breathing in, focus your eyes at a point in front and in level with your eyes.
  7. Repeat the same process with the right thumb.
  8. Then close your eyes and rest.

Rotational Viewing

  1. Sit with legs straight in front of your body.
  2. Place the left hand on the left knee.
  3. Hold the right fist above the right knee, with the thumb pointing upwards. Keep the elbow straight.
  4. Now keeping the head still, focus your eyes on the thumb.
  5. Make a circle with the thumb, keeping the elbow straight.
  6. Repeat this exercise five times each in clockwise and anti-clockwise direction.
  7. Repeat the process with the left thumb.
  8. Close and rest the eyes and relax completely.
  9. Observe the following breathing pattern during this exercise.
  10. Inhale while completing the upper arc of the circle.
  11. Exhale while completing the lower arc.
  12. Want more yoga for your eyes? Read the full article here.

Share this post