Yoga isn’t just for stiff shoulders or sore joints – simple yogic exercises can revive tired eyes and even improve your vision

If you spend a lot of your time reading or staring at a computer or phone screen, you’ll be familiar with that feeling of tired, dry eyes. Perhaps your vision has become blurrier too, or it takes you longer than it once did to adjust your focus. Unless your optician has detected an issue with your sight, experiencing problems like this with vision could be linked to mental tension. ‘So it helps to relax the eyes, mind and body with simple activities,’ says Béatrice Pauly-Laubry, who teaches yoga for eyes based around the Bates method (

‘You can have quite an immediate improvement, especially in eye fatigue, clarity, mobility of your eyes and widening your peripheral vision.’ Help for tired eyes Yogic exercises such as palming, which is holding your cupped hands over closed eyes, have been practised for thousands of years, with people claiming to feel refreshed and experience clearer vision as a result.

Now modern science backs this up, with people undergoing an eight-week regime of yogic eye exercises demonstrating significantly reduced eye fatigue, according to
a Korean study.

Stop eye damage from computer screens

Working at a computer is particularly damaging for your eyes, because looking at a screen tends to reduce the frequency and how fully you blink. Not blinking properly can lead to dry, irritated eyes.

‘You blink around 40 times a minute naturally, and about 20 times when you’re at a screen,’ says Béatrice. ‘In general you ought to take screen breaks every 40 or so minutes, giving yourself time to breathe, blink and look far away into the distance.’

Classic yogic exercises will not only increase your blink rate while you do them, but can also increase your blinking rate in normal day-to-day life, according to an Indian study.

Improve your vision with exercise

Not only do yogic exercises provide instant relief to unfocused, dry or tired eyes, but practising them regularly could reduce the effects of common problems such as myopia (short sightedness). Using methods such as palming and swinging your head (see below) has been shown to reduce problems with distance vision and eye fatigue in half of test subjects with myopia. There was also relief in brow headaches and difficulty seeing small objects for half of those with astigmatic eyes (a curvature of the cornea) according to an Indian study.

Yoga exercises for eyes

‘There’s a quote I like that says you should treat your eyes like you’d treat your children – you need to let them play, move, smile and rest,’ says Béatrice. These will do just that – try them once a day, or whenever you need a break.

Swinging for eye health

Swinging helps widen your peripheral vision, especially after too much time looking at a screen.

Sitting comfortably and making sure to breathe steadily and deeply, start slowly turning your head from side to side. Keep your eyeballs still and gaze soft, the movement should come from your head. Repeat 20 times. Stop in the middle, and take time to blink and breathe.

Palming eye exercise

Palming gives eyes darkness and soothing warmth for deep relaxation of the surrounding muscles.

Cup your hands over your closed eyes, applying no pressure to the eyeballs and slightly crossing your fingers over your forehead. Breathe deeply, keeping your shoulders and neck relaxed. Spend as long as you’d like here – perhaps taking around
20 breaths. Slowly blink your eyes open, and gradually take away your hands. Notice the difference in how your eyes feel.

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