By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500
Can you improve your eyesight with Yoga? Over time, Yoga has proven remarkably beneficial for nearly every part of the body. However, the question lingers: “Can Yoga be used to actually improve eyesight?” Though solid research is lacking, there are at least three types of Yoga, which appear, at least circumstantially, to do just that.
Dr. William Bates, who died in 1931, was an American physician and ophthalmologist, who developed what is now called, the Bates Method for better eyesight. The method improves vision by relearning a supposed habitual strain to see. His theory, which proposes that the eye focuses, by elongating the eyeball, rather than by changing the power of the lens, was not upheld by his peers and remains unproven today.
Nonetheless, the founder and director of the Center and School for Self-Healing, in San Francisco, Meir Schneider, avows that the practice of consciously relaxing the eyes in a Yogic method, in accordance with the Bates Method, allowed him to see again after being pronounced blind at age 6. Schneider teaches how to improve your eyesight with yoga, involving palming, massage, blinking, and shifting the eyes, and a number of happy students credit him with the return of vision they thought was gone forever.
Dahn Yoga, from Korea, also offers exercises to strengthen the eyes and potentially improve eyesight. According to Dahn practitioners, the eyes are connected to the liver meridian, and exercises that stimulate the liver, help eyesight. According to the U.S. Dahn Yoga website, meridians, or energy pathways, for all organs flow through the abdominal area. By stimulating the abdomen, the energy center will develop. To stimulate and provide warmth in the dahn-jon (energy concentration in the abdomen), the practitioner should rub, press, and tap, the area around the ribs, on both sides. The liver, spleen, and gall bladder meridians are all focused in the area, and eyesight should improve.
Trataka or Drishti
Trataka, or the “uninterrupted gaze,” is a method that is said to cleanse the eyes and their passages. The technique is usually taught with a candle flame, but students may also use any item with a positive connotation. The center of the candle is the focus for the gaze, and complete awareness of the flickering nature of the candle is held.
The gaze is kept steady, and the eyelids are kept open, for as long as possible, without blinking. The practice stimulates the tear glands and tears appear after about 10 minutes, having a cleansing effect on the eyes. Eye rotations, and rapid eye movements, done without moving the head, can also be practiced, focusing on moving objects, such as one’s thumb. Trataka relaxes the mind; and as mental stress, headaches, and eyestrain are combined, the overall effect is improvement of vision.
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