Deprivation Binge

Could an ‘eye yoga’ class relieve my lockdown eyes?


I’m sitting at my desk and rolling my eyes. No, I haven’t been left exasperated by an email in my inbox. In fact, I am feeling positively Zen-like as I follow the instructions of my teacher in today’s class of eye yoga. 

I know, I know. I was dubious at first, too. But the past year and a half has meant more screen time – both at work, thanks to working from home, and in the evenings, thanks to boredom-induced Netflix binges. And with increased screen time, I’ve found, comes eye strain. I was willing to try anything. Besides, Sir Paul McCartney claims eye yoga is the reason for his impeccable eyesight at the age of 78. It was worth a go. 

So I signed up for the set of four online on-demand classes from gym chain Gymbox. The class has been “specially designed to aid tired eyes, relieve eye strain, to help with concentration, focus, aid sleep and generally encourage a sense of calm and wellbeing”, according to the Gymbox instructor, Jess Parkinson, at the start of each video. This was to be achieved through head and neck movement, massage, eye movement, meditation and affirmation work.

It might sound ironic for a class dedicated to reducing eye strain to be held online, but Parkinson is good at gently reminding you to look away from the screen – and, for the most part, you forget the screen is there. Plus, I wouldn’t want a room full of people watching me doing these increasingly bizarre moves. 

“We’re going to be doing some quite interesting movements today of the eyes,” Parkinson says (nay, warns) at the start of the class for Healthy Eyes – the other classes being dedicated to Tired Eyes, Headaches and Better Sleep. 

The first exercise is called Zooming – no, not that kind of Zoom (thank God). Instead, it involves stretching your right hand in front of you in a thumbs up and then, keeping your face and chest facing forward, following your thumbnail with your eyes as you move your thumb to the right. We repeat this three times, and three more times with the left hand, too. It’s not an altogether comfortable sensation – but then, yoga never is. It felt like my eyes were really being worked and, afterwards, they did bizarrely feel like I had stretched them – although they didn’t feel strained, simply revitalised. I imagine it’s how fit people feel after a class of normal yoga.


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