Blink! 3 Yoga Exercises for Eye Health

It’s hot! As the summer heat rises in Southern California, the air becomes dry, humidity plummets and our sinuses respond. Sore throats and dry, red, itchy eyes abound.

The mucous membrane lining your respiratory tract is a natural barrier to the outside environment. When this membrane gets dried out from a lack of humidity, eyes get sore and tired and your ability to fight a cold virus is diminished.

According to Dr. Robert Ivker, family physician and former president of the American Holistic Medical Association, the optimum humidity levels for sinus health are between 35-45%. As I write this, the recorded humidity for today in Simi Valley is 32%, which would be considered low for summer.

Using a computer in an air-conditioned environment in the summer compounds the problem, as blink rates slow when we focus on a screen. When you blink, you not only give the eye a brief rest, you also coat it with fresh moisture.

Try these yoga eye exercises to relieve dryness and soreness: 

  • Close your eyes and keeping your head still, make slow circles with your eyes, clockwise and counterclockwise.
  • Keeping your head still, but this time with the eyes open, slowly explore your periphery. Look as far left as you can, as far right, as far above you and as far below you as you can.
  • Lightly moisten your palms, then rub your hands together vigorously. When your hands are warm, cup them over your eyes. Don’t press on the eye, just let the moisture and warmth provide rest.

During this heat wave, be sure to drink plenty of water. If you are trapped in an office, rest your eyes frequently by looking away from the screen and focusing on a distant object. And don’t forget to blink!


Image credit: Ballookey Klugeypop via Flickr (CC)

Becoming Judith Lasater

It was September 2010. My cell phone rang, and because hardly anyone had that number, the ring was urgent and a little ominous.

It was Judith. “Is this a good time for you?”

I could tell by her anxious tone that this was not a social call. Last night her daughter-in-law had given birth to a baby boy, but he was six weeks early. Her concern was palpable, threaded with understandable excitement for the early arrival of her first grandchild and a desire to be with her family.

“So I’m not coming to Colorado,” she said.

I felt my stomach lurch. We were scheduled to travel to the Yoga Journal Conference in Estes Park the following day, where I was assisting her in a busy schedule of workshops and intensives.

There was a moment of complete silence, rich with infinite possibility. A million scenarios played simultaneously in my mind, and then I heard a voice very much like my own say, “I would be happy to cover your classes for you.”

Quite suddenly, I seemed to be standing in my kitchen staring at the phone in my hand and wondering if I had really just said to Judith Lasater that I would be her “sub” at the 15th Annual Estes Park Yoga Journal Conference.

At that time, I had worked with Judith on and off for several years, supporting her work whenever I could. I relished the simple pleasure of watching a master teacher open students’ minds, and trying to intuit what prop or support she would need to illustrate her teaching.

How, I wondered, would I ever be able to fill her shoes and give her students the full Judith experience they’d signed up for? The simple answer, of course, was that I needed to be me, not try and be Judith, because there is only one Judith Lasater.

I worked through my anxiety and did my very best to provide a balanced, creative and honest series of workshops. It was educational time for me, both identifying my strengths and weaknesses as a teacher.

It’s always disappointing when you show up for a class and expect a particular teacher, only to discover that life has gotten in the way and that person is unable to attend. Be assured that it’s never easy as a teacher to give up classes or change schedules. We become dedicated to the students we serve, but sometimes there is a more pressing need.

As summer progresses and we shift and change teachers to adjust for vacations, different kid schedules and illness, remember the job of the teacher in front of the class is to offer you an opportunity to grow. Her challenge is that she is not who you were expecting. Your challenge is: Can you be open to what she has to offer even though she’s not Judith Lasater?


Image credit: Ulrich Burkhalter via Flickr (CC)