Last week, I talked about movement and my experiences with it. Although, the true is that I didn't deep about how to practice the movement in our daily life and in our vision. As well as, I've decided that is a good chance to speak about this principle and about how to integrate it.
Movement is part of life and part of planet earth. We are in constant movement, as are our eyes It is curious to think that an eye is moving all the time. Although we can not perceive it, it moves. In fact, an eye without visual problems can do up to 3,600 saccadic movements per minute. Even without being able to perceive them looking directly into the eyes of a person, those movements are there.
On the other hand, the more relaxed your eyes are, the more they move and the more freedom of movement there is. Therefore, you can see more clearly. In fact, in people with poor vision, fewer saccadic movements are common. And this is transferred to the body. When something happens to us that surpasses us emotionally, we become tense, and there are no fluid movements, since there is a contraction of the whole body.
Here, we can see the importance of movement in our vision. But not just the movement. The three principles of the Bates Method; Relaxation, movement and central fixation work at the same time and all the three are important. One is not given without the other. Although, today we will focus only on one of them.
Also, it is important to consider the apparent or opposite movement. This is the perception of movement of static objects when we move our eyes. It is easier to understand if you think of the view from a train window. You perceive the landscape going by, but you know the only movement is the train (with you inside). It is just a perception.
There are apparent movements all the time in our life. Always you move your head and eyes, there is an opposite movement. Developing an awareness of this and your peripheral vision helps to relax
First of all, I want to clarify that the Bates Method is a series of techniques and practices that we perform to integrate good habits of vision. Although, we call them exercises, we do not see them as an exercise out of context. These resources help us to integrate good visual habits.
- The exercises are performed without glasses.
- Perform the exercises for a minimum of 5 minutes
- To see results you have to practice them on a regular basis
- Always integrate your breathing during exercise
- If you notice tension when doing the exercise, stop. We do not seek to force the muscle. Look for a way that is not tense; Rest, breathe, relax and make a palming
- Between exercises do palmings for 1 minute. When finishing, make a palming for at least 5 minutes
1. Eye movements
Integrate the movement in your eyes, how? Moving them (obvious) and warming up the muscles.
With the use of the traditional glasses, the movement of the eyes is avoided, since the spectacle works for us and avoids the movement by its disposition in the face and its way of working. Also, stiffness and tension prevent movement, so relaxation in the muscles has to be present.
Take off your glasses and practice some of the different exercises proposed for a total of at least 5 minutes. Listen to music that you like and try to relax yourself while you practice. Although, it is normal to move the head to look, most warming exercises and eye movement are performed without moving the head, unless otherwise stated.
- Move your eyes following an infinity or eight lying down: Grab a pencil that is colorful and flashy, a puppet type finger puppet or your own finger and make a movement of infinite lying. The infinite is not very big, it has to be easy and be located at the height of your eyes. Go up by the center and down by the sides. Move your eyes but not your head, Synchronize the breath with the movement.
- Move your eyes following your finger / puppet / pencil near and far. Same concept as the previous exercise, but close and far. The movement comes out of your nose and continues in a straight line. Synchronize the breath with the movement.
- Move your eyes following your finger / puppet / pencil freely, first without moving the head and then moving it.
In yoga, there are a therapeutic exercises called Pawanmuktasana. Personally, I like to start the yoga session with some Pawanmuktasana exercises, as it is a very gentle way to warm the body and prepare it for practice. Within this series, we find the eye yoga exercises, which you can combine with those mentioned above.
Here I leave you a selection of the exercises of eye yoga (there are many more, that you can find in Internet and in the bibliography at the end of the article);
Up and down viewing
Hold the position shown in the drawing. Head in line with neck, relaxed shoulders, straight back, tailbone in and active your core muscles. Stretch your legs. If this position is complicated, cross your legs in an easy posture and make sure your back is straight. For this you can use a yoga block or meditation cushion (or any cushion that is firm and hard).
Keep both fists on your knees with your thumbs pointing upwards, as shown in the drawing.
Inhale and raise your left arm upwards while following with your gaze (not with your head) to your thumb. Exhale, lower your arm and look at the thumb again. Repeat the movement 10 times with your left arm, do palming and repeat the exercise ten times with your right arm. Make palming when finished.
Front and sideways viewing
Keep your position as in the previous exercise. Place your left arm on your left leg, with your thumb pointing up. Place your right arm extended to the right, parallel to the floor and with the thumb pointing up.
Shift your thumb from left to right thumb without moving your head. Inhale when you are in the center, exhale when you move your eyes to the sides and inhale when you return to the center. Repeat it 10 times and end with palming.
Again, keep the same position as in previous exercises. Place your left arm on your left leg. Place your right arm extended diagonally with your thumb pointing up. Make 10 rounds in a clockwise direction, then in the opposite direction. Inhale as you climb, exhale as you descend. Perform palming and change the arms. End with palming.
The sway helps you perceive the apparent movement and the apparent movement helps you to relax.
Stand with your legs about one to two feet apart and your knees slightly bent. Sway the body side to side, from left to right. Everything should be moving together, the open eyes, body and head. This is like sweeping the landscape. Don't stop in the centre, and keep the neck relaxed. Breathe in at one side, and then breathe out up to the centre and across. Blink soft and easy. Relax.
3. The long swing
The long swing is deeply relaxing for your eyesight and your body. They develop a sense of fluidity and sensitivity and allow you to feel the movement. It is a long movement of your body, head and eyes.
This consists of moving in a long swing from left to right. Stand with your legs slightly more than hip-width apart and your knees slightly bent. Hold your index finger about one foot in front of your face (this is optional, but particularly at the start can be useful for appreciating the movement). With a relaxed gaze, look at your finger. Swing your body to the right, twist your body and raise your left heel slightly off the ground. Then, swing your body to the left, twist your body and raise your right heel off the ground. Do this twenty five times. You can switch hands if necessary.
The long swing is particularly helpful before going to bed.
4. Looking from a train/bus/car window
This practice is super easy and enjoyable. When you walk, you go by car, bus or train (not as a driver), look at the window. You do not have to shift your eyes. They do by the movement of the vehicle or your own, as you walk. Notice this great apparent movement. The faster you move, the easier it is to perceive it.
5. Look for details in pictures, wall, floor, etc.
Move your head and your eyes looking for details. Look for curiosities in paintings. Look at optical illusions. Anything that stimulates your vision and makes you to move your eyes will help.
Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha. Swami Satyananda Saraswati. Yoga Publications Trust, Munger, Bihar, India.