No matter how many Bikram Yoga sessions you complete, there is always at least one thing you hear… you absorb in your thought process…that you hadn’t really heard, or really listened to before. The next best step is to be able to translate what you hear to your body’s movements… and thereafter, to be able to truly understand and feel the benefits and impact of applying what you hear on your body and on your overall well being and health.
Day 10 of the 30 day challenge, Monday, the 5th of September, I paid particular attention to ‘stretching my optic nerve’. I had heard instructors say this time and time again in previous sessions, but could never really ascertain whether I was in fact stretching my optic nerve. In Standing Deep Breathing, the first breathing exercise, following the inhale, you exhale slowly whilst dropping your head back as far as it can go, and shifting your eyes up to the ceiling, and then to the back of the wall (or as far as you can go) for a count of 6. If you focus on the movement of your eyes during each breath, rather than the movement of your head, you will physically notice your optic nerve stretching. This is very much a rolling sensation of your eyeball massaging the inner tissues behind your eye.
Once I felt this, I asked myself – well, how is this good for me? Why is this worthy of mentioning within the dialogue of a 90 minute class?
Admittedly, I am neither a qualified yoga instructor nor an eye specialist. I am however curious to find out what others have written on the impact of yoga on the optic nerve.
What is the optic nerve?
The optic nerve forms part of the central nervous system, and transmits visual information from the retina to the brain.
Health risks linked to damage of the optic nerve
- Impaired vision, or partial or complete sight loss
- Optic neuritis
- Anterior ischemic optic neuropathy
- Optic nerve hypoplasia
Bikram Yoga postures that are particularly good for glaucoma
Postures that are particularly meditative in nature, and that offer higher levels of relaxation are good for glaucoma sufferers (The Dead Body Pose – Savasana and the Half Tortoise Pose – Ardha-Kurmasana) . Additionally, postures known to reduce blood pressure are also beneficial (Head to Knee Pose and Stretching Pose – Janushirasana and Paschimotthanasana; Spine-Twisting Pose – Ardha-Matsyendrasana; and the Wind-Removing Pose – Pavanamuktasana).
Bikram Poses for relaxation – Recommended for those with glaucoma
Bikram Poses for lowering Blood Pressure – also recommended for those with Glaucoma
Everybody’s different, our bodies are our temples, and yoga can help everyone in different ways. Strong awareness of our own conditions and limitations can empower us to adapt yoga to meet our own needs. I found a video that may be useful for those suffering from glaucoma, and if you’re interested, take a few moments to watch and get practical tips on how to adapt some postures to meet your needs. Do bear in mind these videos are not specifically pertaining to Bikram Yoga, so the postures have been taken from Hatha Yoga generally rather than from Bikram’s 26 posture sequence. Enjoy!