At 78 years old, Paul McCartney doesn’t wear eye glasses. For him, eye yoga “just makes sense”. He learned this technique from a yogi in India.
He explained that your eyes are muscles. Your ears aren’t, so you can’t exercise your ears. But your eyes, you can.Paul McCartney | Table Manners with Jessie Ware Podcast | Series 11: Episode 18
Paul McCartney’s Eye Yoga Routine
- Head still, eyes open.
- Look up as far as you can, one, two, three, then go back to the middle, then down, back to the middle. Repeat 3x.
- Then go to the left and the right. Repeat 3x.
- Do diagonals with the gaze. Repeat 3x.
- Look at the nose. Then release. Repeat 3x.
- Roll your eyes around clock-wise then counter clock-wise. Repeat 3x.
- Look at distant object (long vision), then look at the lines of the palm of your hand and focus.
The Many Benefits of Yoga
When we categorize yoga with other gym exercises, practice tends to focus on the obvious physical aspects of fitness, toned arms, abs. As a result, we miss out on working on our internal organs and muscles we can’t see, such as the lungs for pranayama (breathing exercises) or ocular muscles for our eyes.
But our lifestyle makes us even more susceptible to eye fatigue and visual discomfort. A British poll shows that on average, people spend 4,866 hours a year staring at a screen (computer, phones, tablet). Another poll shows that Americans spend 6,259 hours a year on their gadgets. That’s more than 17 hours daily on a screen.
Research on Eye Yoga and Trataka
Currently, we have very few research on eye yoga. A controlled study done by researchers in Korea shows that eye yoga effectively decreased eye fatigue and discomfort among college students.
A physical yoga exercise already incorporates some form of “eye yoga” through the dristi or deliberate gaze during practice. However in India, there exists a yoga practice specifically for the eyes called, Trataka. The practice entails “looking intently with an unwavering gaze at a small point until tears are shed”.
In Trataka, practitioners stare at a candle flame or a black dot until the eyes start watering. They gently place the palms over the eyes and stare at the third eye, or the space between the eyebrows. They then visualize the flame.
Trataka purportedly helps with focus, visualization, and concentration.
My Eye Yoga Routine
I learned about eye yoga from my Kundalini yoga teacher in New York two decades ago. When my eyes feel strained or heavy, a few minutes of eye yoga relaxes them.
Eye Rolls with Eyes Closed
- Start with the eyes closed, removing tension from the eyes and face. Keep eyes closed throughout the routine.
- Move your eyes, up down, left, right, and diagonally, 5x.
- Rotate smoothly clock-wise and counter clock-wise. 3x.
- Focus on the third eye, the space between the eye brows and hold for 5 seconds or longer.
On Pace: sometimes I go for speed but most of the time, I do eye rolls slowly, deliberately, and try to reach my edge. When it feels as if my eyeballs can’t go any farther, that’s when I hold for a bit and release.
Rub your palms together and gently place them on your eyes. You can apply light pressure. This shouldn’t hurt, but feel good, especially when eyes feel restless.
- Keep the head still with eyes open.
- Stick out your thumb in front of you (an OK sign with your thumb ). Move your thumb left and right, maintaining a clear focus on the thumb. Repeat 3x.