What is Eye Yoga?
Eye Yoga is a practice system focused on improving vision.
It does this by retraining the muscular system and the nervous system so they work better together.
After practicing Eye Yoga and changing my visual environment, my eyeglasses (near-sighted) prescription went from -3.0 diopters to -0.5 diopters (close to 20/20) in 3 months.
In addition to helping with near-sightedness, this practice has also shown to help improve far-sightedness, floaters, and astigmatism.
Some people may find the results above hard to believe. Some may believe yoga is a woo-woo practice that may feel good but doesn’t lead to measurable outcomes. As an ex-NASA engineer who values logic and science, I once had the same disbelief.
My disbelief changed after I tried a 1 hour practice session. I was surprised to discover not only did my eye muscles feel different, there was also a measurable improvement in my visual acuity.
In this essay, I’ll explain:
- How your vision system works
- What skills make up my Eye Yoga practice
1. How Your Vision System Works
Your vision system works like a camera system.
Light enters your eye, gets focused by a lens, is received by a sensor (retina), and is interpreted as an image in our brain.
A camera system is made up of a mechanical system (i.e. buttons, motor, lens) and an electrical system (i.e battery, chips, circuits). These two systems are static and do not change much over time.
Your vision system is made up of a muscular system (i.e ciliary eye muscles, extraocular muscles, neck muscles) and a nervous system (i.e. optic nerve, brain). These two systems get influenced by many factors including habits, environment, emotional state, and nutrition. The two systems are dynamic and the vision system they make slowly changes over time.
Here’s an example of how a vision system can slowly misalign and lead to near-sightedness (myopia):
You make your eyes do lots of close-up reading / typing work without breaks (poor visual habit), work is done in dimly lit rooms with artificial lighting (poor visual environment)
Eye muscles get strained, eyeballs changes shape (muscular system and nervous system changes to adapt)
Vision becomes blurry (muscular system and vision system becomes more misaligned)
Since your vision system can change, adapt, and get more blurry, it can also change, adapt, and become clearer.
Here’s an example of how a vision system can slowly align and reverse myopia:
You make your eyes do lots of long distance movement tracking work, near-far focus work with frequent breaks (great visual habit), work is done outdoors with natural sunlight (great visual environment)
Eye muscles relax, eyeballs changes shape (muscular system and nervous system changes to adapt)
Vision becomes clearer (muscular system and vision system becomes more aligned)
When you give your eyes lots of diverse work in a great visual environment, the muscular system and nervous system learn to work better together. Your vision system recalibrates leaving you with clearer vision.
2. What Skills Make Up My Eye Yoga Practice?
There are several natural vision training systems (Bates Method, Vision Therapy, Feldenkrais, and Amar Eye Yoga) that will give your eyes diverse work and help recalibrate your vision system.
My Eye Yoga practice is a synthesis of my favorite skills from the systems above. It contains 3 type of skills:
- Warm-up skills
- Strengthening skills
- Relaxation skills
1. Warm-up Skills
Eye Yoga warm-up skills will raise the temperature in the muscular system related to vision. As your muscle temperature increases, oxygen becomes more available to your muscles, allowing them to contract and relax more easily. This will allow them to perform strengthening skills and complete vision tasks with more range, accuracy, and ease. The specific areas that you warm up include the shoulders, neck, scalp, face, and eyes.
Here’s an an example of a warm-up skill that opens up the shoulder:
2. Strengthening Skills
Strengthening skills strengthen the eye muscles that control eye movement (extra-ocular muscles) and focus (ciliary muscles). When you wear glasses and contacts, the lens does a lot of work in helping you focus. They are like crutches and make seeing clearly easier for you. However, using glasses over long periods will weaken and stiffen your eye muscles. When you perform strengthening skills without the aid classes and contacts, your eye muscles will work. They’ll get challenged and grow stronger. These strengthening skills will increase the range, precision, and stamina of your eye muscles.
Here’s an example of a strengthening skill that uses a tennis ball:
3. Relaxation skills
Relaxation is coupled with awareness. The more relaxed you are, the more aware you become. The more aware you are, the more relaxed you become. When you acquire the skills that help you relax, your vision will become more aware of visual details. The connections between your muscular system and nervous system will grow stronger, and become more calibrated. In addition, relaxation skills will help your tired eye muscles recover faster; leading to more training sessions and more opportunities to strengthen your eye muscles.
Here’s an example of a skill called “Palming”:
When these 3 skills are practiced in sequence, vision will improve immediately.
Most of my students experience qualitative (new feelings in muscles around the eye, brighter colors, improved clarity) and quantitate (increased distance to eye chart) within a 1 hour practice.
Here’s a video from one of my students describing her experience:
The former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney also practices Eye Yoga. Here’s video of him explaining his personal sequence.
When you practice Eye Yoga and change your visual environment, you can recalibrate your vision system, reduce blurriness, and improve your vision.