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Dry Eye Yoga: Yogic Exercise for Your Eyes

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Do your eyes feel dry and tired? Do they keep asking your fingers for a rub? Dry eye yoga exercises may help soothe them.

Learn more about dry eye yoga and its benefits and how to do yoga eye exercises at home or work.

What Is Eye Yoga?

Eye yoga refers to a variety of eye exercises that involve purposeful movements and focusing. It stimulates eye muscles while encouraging awareness of your eyes and other parts of your body.

If you’re looking for eye exercises to improve your vision fast, eye yoga may surprise you. While there are no scientifically quantifiable eye exercises to improve vision, participants in a 2012 study felt that eye yoga helped them see more clearly.

One possible explanation for this is that eye yoga may improve concentration and, with it, the brain’s ability to interpret visual stimuli.

Since eye yoga exercises are easy to do and safe, you have nothing to lose practicing them. Try them and see whether they work for you as exercises to improve eyesight.

Benefits of Yoga Eye Exercises

Before we look at specific eye exercises, here are all the ways eye yoga may be beneficial.

  • Relieve eye strain from using screens daily. A 2016 study involving undergraduate nursing students concluded that 8 weeks of eye yoga reduced eye fatigue and tiredness.
  • Rest your eyes. When your eyes have to do close work all the time, eye muscles can become strained. Whether you’re doing a lot of computer work or studying, yoga eye exercises can help rest overused muscles. (We've written a post on how to reduce computer eye strain, so check that out too.)
  • Stimulate and strengthen eye muscles. By encouraging you to exercise your eye muscles, eye yoga may also help strengthen them.
  • Reduce tension in the eyes and face. Close work at a desk can keep your face and eye muscles in the same position for extended periods. Yoga eye exercises can help release that tension.
  • Lower stress. Like other forms of yoga, eye yoga encourages you to pause and breathe away your thoughts. This can help lower high blood pressure, which is associated with glaucoma. It can also improve mood.
  • Boost focus. Dry eye yoga exercises require sustained attention. They encourage you to focus and remain centered.
  • Improve body awareness. Becoming more aware of your eyes and face helps nurture awareness of your body. With a higher body awareness comes well-being and a sense of peace.

How to Do Dry Eye Yoga

Here are a few simple dry eye yoga exercises you can get started with. You can choose one or do all of them in the presented order. They are easy to do and take only minutes. Try them and see for yourself.

Palming

Palming is a soothing eye yoga exercise you can do on its own or after a succession of other exercises.

man covering face with both hands
  1. Warm your hands by rubbing them together. As you do so, breathe mindfully in and out. Keep on rubbing your hands for 3 to 5 mindful breaths.
  2. Cover your face with your hands, arching your palms slightly so that they don’t touch your eyes. The heel of your palms should rest on your cheekbones. Your fingertips should rest on your forehead.
  3. Close your eyes and relax as you continue to breathe deeply. Clear your mind of thoughts and enjoy the break from visual stimuli. If thoughts arise, don’t cling to them but let them go. Feel your eyes absorb the darkness even as the warmth of your hands soothes them.
  4. Keep your eyes covered for 1 to 5 minutes as you breathe deeply and let go of stress.

Focus Shifting

You can do this exercise seated or standing. Begin by letting go of any tension in your body through mindful breathing.

  1. Extend one arm in front of you, holding your thumb up and the other fingers of the hand in a relaxed fist.
  2. Bring your attention to your thumb, focusing your eyes on it.
  3. Move your arm slowly to the left or right as far as it feels comfortable and follow your thumb with your eye. Be careful not to move your head or neck.
  4. Continue to follow your thumb as you move your arm to the other side.
  5. Bring your thumb close to your nose until you cannot focus your eyes on it any longer.
  6. Breathe in and out gently.
  7. Stretch back your arm, following your thumb with your eyes.
  8. Once your hand is back in the starting position, you will have completed a movement. Repeat the entire movement 3 to 5 times.

Distance Gazing

Another simple eye exercise, distance gazing can help you relieve strain from continually focusing your eyes up close.

male office worker with coffee mug gazing out the window

  1. Look out the window at a distant object. If you’re outside, simply focus on a distant tree, building, or cloud. Envision your eyes absorbing that object.
  2. Breathe deeply.
  3. Shift your focus to another distant object.
  4. Continue to shift your focus to other distant objects, letting your gaze drift for several minutes.

Eye Rolling

This is a useful exercise to do in the office while taking a break from using the computer.

  1. Sit straight in your chair with your neck, torso, arms, and legs relaxed.
  2. Breathe gently.
  3. Relax the muscles in your eyes and face.
  4. Look up at the ceiling without moving your head or neck.
  5. Next, move both your eyes clockwise with a smooth movement, looking to your right, then down, then left, then back at the ceiling, focusing on the objects at the periphery of your vision.
  6. Repeat the movement several times clockwise and then counterclockwise.

The Wrap Up

Yoga exercises can help relieve eye strain, soothe your eyes, and destress you. They are simple and quick to do and don’t require special training. You have nothing to lose trying them.

But keep in mind that eye exercises alone cannot cure chronic eye conditions.

Do your eyes often feel dry and tired? You may have dry eyes, a condition that digital eye strain only makes worse. A quick online test can help you find out whether you have dry eyes.

Take the Dry Eye Test.

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