10 Ways to Reduce Stress on Your Eyes: How to Strengthen & Relax Your Eye Muscles

According to ancient Yoga science - we use 50% of our bioenergy (prana) on our eyes to navigate the physical world. As most of us rely on our vision for everyday life, we have a vital reason to enhance our ability to see with these simple techniques.

For an official, short-hand list of practical Yoga hygiene techniques for the modern world, Yoga Hygiene Simplified by Shri Yogendra offers a great place to start.

1. Head Massage

Massage your head with your fingertips. This increases blood flow to the peripheral regions of your eyes. Start by gently pressing your eye brows, then work to your temples, then to the top of your head - going for a sense of nurturing and release for yourself and your work. Class A head rubs are a surefire way to get your inner kitten to purr - and any tension to melt away.

2. Look Out Into Open Space

When a Swiss watchmaker tinkers away on a watch, he traditionally keeps a small window within his field of view to periodically look up at the Swiss Alps on a break from his watch work - to keep his eyes at rest in between bouts of tinkering. You can practice this by setting yourself up to take breaks to look out into an open field or even up at the sky. If you are inside, you can stare at a blank wall until you start hallucinating flying machines on the surface of the wall (just like Leonardo da Vinci).

3. Stretch Your Boundaries

This one is straightforward - stretch your eye muscles by looking into the boundaries of your vision. You can try this a variety of ways by looking up, down, left, right, around. You can hold these positions for 15 seconds at a time to start.

4. Vagus Nerve Stimulation

The Vagus Nerve is located where the spinal cord meets the brain, on the back of your neck. Even gentle touch triggers this sensitive region to release calming sensations that can send waves of chills throughout your whole body - a "system reset" that relaxes and alerts you at the same time. Practice by gently massaging this area in a small circular motion.

5. Turn Down The Screen

Electronic screens blast dense light energy at our eyeballs - which radically affect our bodies' ability to regulate sleep-wake circadian rhythms with the Sun. You can install a screen dimmer (this app "Flux" works well) which automatically changes the color spectrum of your device's screen based on time of day, filtering out blue-colored wavelengths (high energy, associated with daytime) at night - if you find yourself on a computer at night.

6. Turn Off The Screen

Try putting all your digital devices away before sunset, and give your eyes a rest until morning. In the meantime, see how you decide to spend your time with a head full of ideas and a world full of possibilities.

7. Perform A Digital Detox

To take the last point further without throwing your phone into a lake, spend a week(end) free of all electronic screens and even books. Let your eyes focus on your surroundings: landscapes, the horizon, the stars, friendly faces and campfire! Which brings us to our next point.

8. Fire Meditation (Trataka)

"Trataka" is an ancient Sanskrit word meaning "to gaze" and usually involves focusing your attention on a flame (candle, campfire, sunrise/sunset) for a set time. Trataka practice helps relax the habit of constantly shifting of our eyes' attention during various daily tasks (daytime REM) and in addition, rejuvenates the third eye - inspiring a concentrated dose of imagination and wonder.

9. Hugs

Hugs are great. They enhance our sense of belonging and trust. Remember to hug your friends, family, animals and trees. Yes, hug trees. Connecting to each other and the Earth releases static electricity from charged electrons called "ions" - preforming an antioxidant function for the whole body - repairing our DNA at the atomic level.

10. Close Your Eyes

Remember this! Of course, you get plenty of time to explore your dreams with your eyes closed at night. You also can spend 5 minutes during the day trying this in the shower, laying on the ground, or sitting at your desk listening to music. In a world of constant stimulation, your eyes will thank you to relax behind their natural curtains - where they are free to roam the lands of our universal imagination.

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About Peter Fettis

As a Registered Yoga Teacher and and Certified Personal Trainer, Peter practices optimizing human potential as a way of life. His latest book How to Eat Well and Love Yourself dives into the practical principles of mindfulness and plant-based nutrition to give you a taste of the abundant harvest from the mind's inner garden of awareness. Peter’s vision with FlowPrana is to make waves in the current culture by rallying the wider public to recognize their inner healing power using a proactive, gentle approach.

Peter Fettis