Use the light that is within you to regain your natural clearness of sight. Seeing into the darkness is clarity. Knowing how to yield is strength. Use your own life and return to the source of life. This is called practicing the eternal.
I began my journey to improve my vision after attending a lecture with Dr. Marc Grossman. He maintained that in many cases, vision can be improved by decreasing the “bad” and improving the “good”:
• Reduce factors that degrade eyesight (stress and physical and mental tension)
• Understand, apply, and integrate healthy habits of using our eyes
For myself, how to relax and energize the eyes became a practice of combining Bates Method eye exercises with insights from the Chinese meridian system, as well as stress reduction through yoga and qigong. Over the years, I’ve successfully reduced my glasses prescription by 50% and continue to see improvement.
Even if you don’t need corrective lenses, the exercises I review in the workshop will help you with tired eyes, computer eye strain, and other bothersome eye conditions. As yoga practitioners, I think we will find much resonance in understanding and applying the principles and practices of yoga to vision improvement.
Yoga as a Path to Better Vision
In a nutshell, as we relax and open the body through yoga we simultaneously relax and open the mind, and as we relax the mind, our vision, both inside and outside, is enhanced.
What does it mean, “inner” vision? It means our sense of self, our identity, our purpose, our “beingness” in the world. And “outer” vision? Our sight, our appreciation of color and form, the ability to perceive with clarity and vividness the beauty around us.
Basically, yoga works on three facets of the human being and has specific techniques for each aspect. These are the physical body; the energy body; and the mental body or mind.
The yoga practitioner seeks to harmonize these three dimensions of the human being and through doing this, achieve optimal health, happiness, and self-understanding; this would include optimal inner and outer vision.
Let’s look at these three dimensions individually.
Physical Body: The Anamayakosa
The physical poses of yoga, known as asanas, are designed to increase both strength and flexibility of the body, improve balance, and at the same time enhance circulation and energy flow, cleansing organs and other systems.
The poses that most benefit the eyes are:
- Stretches for the head, neck, and shoulders. Releasing tension from the neck and shoulders not only improves posture but boosts vision by allowing more circulation of blood to the brain; the eyes are simply extensions of brain tissue.
- Asanas that open the liver/gallbladder meridians; in Chinese Medicine these meridians are responsible for vision (again, both inside and out).
In the workshop, I will be teaching these beneficial poses.
Energy Body: The Pranayamakosha
All the breathing exercises in yoga are designed to enhance energy and oxygenate the blood, improving circulation while removing stress.
One of the most beneficial pranayamas for vision improvement is Kapalabhati, or skull-shining breath. Easy to master, this breath brings oxygen to the brain, and cleans the blood. It improves the oxygenation of blood in the body, which helps in better nourishment of all the structures of the eyeball, along with the nerves.
Another piece of the workshop will be including Kapalabhati with yoga eye stretches.
Mental Body: Vijnanamayakosha
The goal of yoga is union with the “divine,” which one could also call reality, or the Tao, the creative infinite, nature,“that which is,” or the Universal. In yoga philosophy, the Universal is said to exist in the space between thoughts, which is nonthinking, and in this infinite space, the truth of being is said to reside. This place of “no mind” is meditation.
Many advanced practitioners of yoga and meditation who can enter the “space between thoughts” report improved vision afterward. To quote Michael Hutchison from The Book of Floating, “As I went out into the world (after going into the state of no mind) my senses were extremely – almost unbelievably – sharp and keen. Everything I saw seemed to be beautiful and miraculous, and the colors of everything were extraordinarily rich and beautiful. I saw everything clearly as if objects had sharp edges around….Everything has become much sharper and clearer than it normally was.”
The takeaway is that external vision can be improved as one raises one's level of consciousness. In other words, deepening one’s meditation practice (ie, inner vision) can be a doorway to improving one's eyesight (outer vision).
In the workshop, I will be including a breath meditation practice that will benefit vision.
Vision Improvement and Practices From Other Systems
In addition to using the modalities of yoga as vehicles for vision improvement, I will be sharing Qigong exercises to benefit the eyes, as well as Chinese Eye Massage.
As was said by one Chinese sage, “From the base of the mountain, many paths. From the peak, only one moon.” My job as the workshop presenter is to guide you on some of these paths; our collective goal as we navigate the various paths up the “mountain” is the one “moon” of inner and outer clarity.