You eat healthy, you exercise regularly, you get enough sleep, and you avoid bad health habits—but are you taking care of your eyes? While many people prioritize physical activity, they may forget to exercise their eyes.
So, how do you even go about getting an eyeball workout in? Enter eye yoga, or netra vyayamam, a regimen that can refresh overworked eyes and may even boost eye health.
It’s actually easier than you think, and you can do eye yoga right at your desk—no yoga mat required.
Workplace Hazards to Your Eyes
You don’t need to work outdoors, in construction, or in a factory to be at risk of eye harm at work. Workplace hazards to your eye health can happen right at your desk. As Forbes reports, the average American spends approximately 11 hours each day looking at a screen. While that may sound like a lot of time, it’s not surprising. You probably spend most of your eight-hour workday staring at screens, then go home and continue staring at your phone, laptop, or television. Unfortunately, prolonged screen time can lead you to a range of physical issues, including headaches, eye dryness, and eye strain.
But many of us can’t just stop staring at screens all the time, especially if staring at screens is part of our job. That’s why it’s important to consider caring for your eyes as part of your overall health.
What is Eye Yoga?
According to Healthline, eye yoga consists of exercises designed to strengthen the muscles around your eyes. While there are no studies that show eye yoga can help with existing eye issues, such as nearsightedness or other vision problems, Healthline reports evidence that eye yoga can help with eye strain and eye focus.
How to Do Eye Yoga
The experts at Yoga International offer several eye yoga exercises you can do anytime, anywhere.
- Palming is a popular and easy exercise. Just rub your hands together until warm (for about 10 to 15 seconds) then place your hands over your eyes. Rest your fingertips on your forehead and your palms over your eyes, with the bottoms of your hands against your cheeks. This exercise doesn’t necessarily support muscle building around the eyeball, but it gives your eyes a true break from stimulation of all types.
- Eye rolling exercises are also easy. Sitting straight up, relax your face and then roll your eyes (without moving your head) to look directly above your head. Then, roll your eyes in as large a circle as possible, going in a clockwise direction, three times. Next, switch to a counterclockwise direction and repeat the exercise another three times.
- Focus shifting is handy if you’ve been staring at a screen that’s close to your face for a long amount of time. Just stretch your arm in front of you with your thumb extended in a ‘thumbs up.’ Keep your eyes trained on your thumb as you slowly move it closer to your face, in a straight line, until it touches your nose. Pause for a few seconds and then extend your thumb back out until it’s in starting position again. Repeat this exercise while continuing to keep your eyes focused on your moving thumb.
- Distance gazing is similar to focus shifting. This exercise is especially helpful if you want to allow your eyes to focus on something else while in a meeting or another environment where it might be inappropriate to start waving your thumb around. Just look out into the distance and focus on a particular object or spot as you keep your face relaxed, before moving your focus to another object in the distance, for as long of a time as your eyes need.
What Eye Yoga Can’t Do
It’s important to note that, while eye yoga can provide you relief from eye strain and help you improve eye focus—particularly when working in environments that require you to stare at one thing for long periods of time (such as your laptop screen)—there are things eye yoga can’t do.
According to Harvard Health Publishing, “Exercising eye muscles will not eliminate the most common maladies that necessitate corrective lenses—namely, nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, and presbyopia (age-related lens stiffening). Above all, eye exercises will do nothing for glaucoma and macular degeneration.”
Other Ways to Protect Your Eyes
Beyond practicing eye yoga, there are other changes you make in your work environment to help protect and improve your eye health. The Economic Times provides the following recommendations:
- Keep your laptop at a proper distance (at least an arm’s length away from you and slightly lower than eye level)
- Ensure your devices aren’t set too bright
- Use bigger fonts, if needed
- Make sure your workspace is well-lit
- Take frequent breaks during screen time
Overall, if you feel you might be suffering from deteriorating eye health, it’s important to see an eye care professional for an examination and appropriate treatment.
The Bottom Line
Your health is one of your most valuable resources, so it’s worth protecting. That means you need to protect the health of your entire body—including your eyes.
If you need support making positive lifestyle changes, such as setting reasonable breaks away from work and your electronic devices, talk to an Arootah health coach today. Health coaching can help you make better health decisions, establish constructive accountability, and optimize your resources to help you get the results you want.
How Your Desk Job Can Damage Your Eyes — And What You Can Do About It (Forbes)
Everything You Want to Know About Eye Yoga (Healthline)
4 Yoga Exercises for Eye Strain (Yoga International)
The lowdown on eye exercises (Harvard Health Publishing)
Nine tips to keep your eyes safe at work (The Economic Times)