Yes! you heard it right, Yoga for vision. Never heard it before? Well it means that you have not tried yoga for vision classes for your children offered by Yoga Bharati. While yoga helps generalizing healing, localized healing is also possible.
Keeping in mind both structural and functional aspects of vision and improvement in one area affecting the other, Dr. Naveen of Yogaksema, Bengaluru says, working on functional aspects of eyes, one can bring about structural changes. Yoga Bharati offers yoga workshops for children ages 5-13 years who are having refractive errors such as Shortsightedness, Astigmatism, Farsightedness and Crossed/Lazy eyes.
Vision problems in children have been increasing exponentially. According to WHO, 285 million people worldwide are visually impaired worldwide? Out of them, 39 million are blind and 246 million have low vision. Eighty percent of the visual impairments can be cured or avoided. According to WHO statistics in 2012, 1 in every 20 elementary going kids in US have some kind of vision defect. Children are constantly challenged for time to keep up with activities they chose to rather than take care of their basic health. Eye muscles are losing flexibility and tone in children at an accelerated pace which can worsen vision problems. Eye muscles get locked into habituated patterns and lose their abilities to focus at different distances. Yoga is a blessing to modern day lifestyle.
While yoga itself brings about general relaxation; specific movements of the body parts that bring improved movements of Prana in the head and neck region and spinal areas brings localized relaxation through increased supply of oxygen and nutrition.
Practices based on VYASA, Bengaluru University experience and related clinical studies in India and other parts of the world were applied in the classes. Some specific practices include eye-ball movements, yoga poses impacting neck and head areas, focusing and de-focusing practices and practices based on Dr. Meir’s Bates method such as Long swings, Sunning, Skying, Self facial massage, Blinking, Palming, Looking to details, peripheral vision improvement practices were taught in the class and practiced by children.
Vision is an interplay of two aspects; first is the functioning of eye muscles. A small group of muscles are holding the eyes in a manner that it gives freedom to move in all directions. Second is the structure and fluid in the eyeball to maintain the shape of the eye. When shape of the eye changes, that cause Refractive errors. The functioning of eye muscles does impact the shape of an individual’s eyeball. When the muscles are intact and healthy, there is no refractive error seen. Working backwards, if we can work with eye muscles, we indirectly work with the eyeballs and probably preserve the shape of the eyes.
A stressed mind negatively impacts our eye muscles like any other muscles. Any malfunctioning of eye muscles will impact the shape of the eyeball. Going backwards, local Yoga perspective helps stretching the muscles to take away the spasm in the eye muscles. General perspective of Yoga is to take away the mental stress and spasm in the eye muscles. Local and global techniques both will provide mental relaxation.
What I have observed in the course of six months through two workshops is as in any other treatment, yoga therapy for vision management is consistency, compliance from teachers, children and parents. One question comes to the mind as to how to make children compliant? Children learn through observation, children learn when connection is made to them. One should become a child to teach a child! Fun way of imparting knowledge to kids can make it happen. A small field trip report by a child participant - “I like the field trip because we got to hike. I also liked the eye practices. I liked to build the armor on my body. My favorite game was kho as well as Ram, Laxman. I liked to see the deer at the park. I liked to eat the cookies,apples,pears,chips,crackers ,and gummies”
Objective measurements to see any such impact on the vision is the eye power itself. Subjective measurements are overall behavior and health symptoms of the child. To my surprise everyone in the class improved on both and also saw objective changes in their vision. Simple assessment children’s refractive errors were performed in the beginning as to how far and while line on the optometry chart were they able to see clearly at a comfortable distance. After the three month workshop, children were asked to see the same line smaller lines at the same distance. All of the kids showed improvements in the one or two lines!
Relaxation being key, and children do not learn very quickly. One has to be very creative and engaging in teaching them. What also helps is few memorable events such as field trips.
Evidence based Lifestyle intervention program with the help of Dr. Naveen will be our next offering. Four areas explored here will be eye exercises themselves, nutritional, past studies in cognitive defect and neurological symptoms in patients with refractive errors and finally herbs and exploratory treatments. September 2014 Yoga Bharati will offer comprehensive vision therapy based on Lifestyle intervention program.
Savita is the Director of Yoga Therapy services at Yoga Bharati. Her passion is women's yoga such as Fertility, Prenatal, Postnatal, and children’s yoga. She worked as risk analyst at Symantec Corporation applying her MBA skills before she decided to take up volunteering at yoga bharati.