We eat and drink so much processed foods and beverages (and love it) every day, that exercising (ugh) is essential to keep fit and maintain a healthy body. Just like processed food is to the body, excessive screen time on laptops, televisions, and phones (which we love) is to your eyes (oh damn). It is just as important to exercise your eyes, as it is to exercise your body!
Here are 5 simple exercises for your eyes (and you won’t even have to do the Surya-Namaskar!) that you can do at your workplace, at home, or whenever your eyes feel stressed. Your eyes will thank me for this!
Rub your palms together for several seconds and place your palms on your eyes for about thirty seconds to a minute. You will instantly feel a little fresh after this. (This is like when your yoga instructor asks you to take deep breaths before you start doing a class.)
ASANA 1: FLEXING
This asana stretches your ocular muscles. It also prevents you from staring at your computer all day, which most people do. Face straight ahead, and then look up as far as you can without moving your head. Then look down. Up, down, up, down slowly. Then look at your top right – go as far to the edge of your vision can see. Then bottom left, and alternate the two again. Finally, look top left and alternate with bottom right a few times.
You will feel a slight strain but that’s okay. This is because you haven’t stretched your eyes much before, just like when you stretch your body after a long time and feel a slight pull.
ASANA 2: PALMING
This asana will be a little easier on your eyes as it is a relaxation exercise. Cup your hands over your eyes horizontally and create a gentle pressure around your orbital bone – or the bone around the eye socket with your pinky finger. With your eyes closed, stare into the blackness as if you are staring into space. See how far you can focus on the distance. Allow all the residual colors to fade to black. This helps “reset” your vision, allowing your eyes to relax fully and lubricate again. You can do this for as long as you like.
ASANA 3: BLINKING
This asana is simple: just blink, kind of like breathing in yoga! Excessive television or computer use leads to dry eyes, which can cause blurry vision, red eyes, headaches, and eyestrain. This is because the average blink rate drops from 16-20 blinks per minute to 6-8 blinks per minute while absorbed in the screen. Therefore, to prevent strain and dryness on the eyes while using the screen, simply blink more and be more conscious of when you’ve stopped blinking. This will lubricate the eye and refresh your brain ready to receive new visual data.
ASANA 4: FOCUSING
If you have glasses, take them off while doing this exercise. Place your thumb close to your face and focus on it. After a few seconds, place your other thumb at arm’s length and focus on that. After a few seconds, focus on something across the room, and a few seconds later, something outside the window. All four points should be along the same line so you can subtly change your focus. Do this again starting from your thumb, which is close to you and continue on a couple of times.
This exercise is great for vision improvement and eye focus, much like balancing in yoga.
ASANA 5: ZOOMING
This exercise is great if you have far-sightedness or an aging vision. Hold your thumb out at arm’s length and focus on it. Now draw it in until it’s three inches in front of your eyes, maintaining focus all the while. Then move your thumb out again. Do this for a few minutes and you will strengthen your focusing skills (also known as accommodation). This is like stretching for your eyes, much like doing the final stretches after a workout or a yoga session.
After you do these exercises, rub your palm for several seconds and place them on your eyes again or simply just close your eyes and focus on your breathing. This is will allow your eyes to cool and rest, much like Savassan!
For better eye-care, you can do these exercises about 3 times a week. You will see vision improvement, and feel less eye-fatigue!