Eye Yoga: The Low-Effort, Celeb-Approved Workout Craze In Sight
Sir Paul McCartney swears by eye yoga, but just how effective are eye exercises?
Sir Paul McCartney cuts a youthful figure. His tousled moptop is as luxuriant as ever, he plays energetically with his grandchildren on the beach and he’s busy recording new music. But perhaps most surprisingly, at the age of 79, the former Beatle now says his vision remains as good as ever too.
“I don’t need glasses when reading a newspaper,” he revealed in a recent podcast. Sir Paul’s secret? Eye yoga.
Sir Paul said he had learned the practice from a yogi he met in India in the 2000s. “He explained that your eyes are muscles. Your ears aren’t, so you can’t exercise your ears. But your eyes, you can.” He says eye yoga, which involves rolling eyes in specific patterns, can “look a bit weird” but that as well as preserving his own vision, it had helped a friend’s daughter to boost hers and delay needing glasses.
Eye yoga is a growing trend, promising brighter, better-rested eyes, a cure for eye strain and, yes, even improved vision in just a few minutes a day. You might be tempted to dismiss it with a good old-fashioned roll of your own eyes — but with “digital eye strain” on the rise and 40 per cent of adults reporting that a rise in screen time during the pandemic has negatively affected their sight, there’s increasing interest in the practice.
Yoga and wellbeing expert Phoebe Greenacre introduced eye yoga classes via her Instagram Live channel during lockdown. She says: “It’s important to use the full range of our sight, just as it’s important to use the full range of our body. It’s not natural just to look straight ahead at screens or laptops all day. This leads to stress, eye strain and headaches. Eye yoga can help relieve these.”
Chatty Dobson, yoga teacher and founder of London yoga studio FLEX Chelsea, which also introduced eye yoga classes during lockdown, adds: “Looking after the muscles in the eye area is more important than ever. Eye yoga is not complicated and feels so good. If you do it every day you will feel your muscles getting stronger and longer, reducing the deterioration of eye focus that we see as we age, while easing tension headaches and relaxing the muscles of the face in general.”
But is there any science behind the trend? A 2012 study showed little to no improvement in short-sightedness. However, in another study of 60 nursing students, eight weeks of eye yoga practice was shown to make eyes feel less tired. And in one study, even though researchers couldn’t measure any objective improvement in eyesight, participants felt as if they were seeing more clearly. This might be because eye exercises appear to help people more quickly identify what they are looking at.
Optometrist Sheena Tanna-Shah agrees eye yoga may have benefits, though says it’s “unusual” to not need reading glasses in your 70s, as Sir Paul claims to.
“When you look at a screen you tend to blink less, so eyes can feel dry and uncomfortable. Rapid blinking, which is part of eye yoga, can help. Eye yoga can feel pleasant and I don’t think it can cause any harm. Just don’t expect to throw your specs away any time soon.”
PHOEBE GREENACRE'S DAILY EYE YOGA WORKOUT
Rub your hands together until they feel warm. Then cup your hands over your closed eyes for a few moments.
Blink as fast as you can for 10 seconds. Repeat for one minute. However, stop if your eyes feel tired.
Look at an object close by, then focus on the furthest point you can see for a few seconds. Repeat for two minutes.
Figure of Eight
Keeping your head completely still, use your eye gaze to trace the biggest figure of eight you can. Repeat three times, then change direction.
Again, keeping your head still, imagine a giant clock face. Take your gaze up to look at 12, then 6, then 3 and then 9. Then roll your eyes right around the clock. Repeat three times.
– Telegraph Media Group
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