Ancient ayurvedic treatises dwelt at length on the care and nurturing of the eyes. Today, we talk of our eyes in terms of pupil, retina, and iris. Back then, thousands of years ago, ayurveda understood eye structure quite differently.
The eyeballs are said to be composed of all five elements — the Panchamahabhutas — earth, fire, air, water, and space. Of these:
- Earth governs the muscular part of the eyes.
- Fire rules the blood vessels.
- Air makes up the black of the eyeballs.
- Water dominates the white of the eye, and
- Space contributes to the tear ducts or cleansing channels.
Ancient ayurvedic healers identified dozens of causes that can bring eyes to grief. Among them were:
- Misuse of the eyes — straining too much, concentrating too hard on minute objects, or looking too far in the distance constantly.
- Excessive anger, jealousy, or negative feelings (echoing the thought that the eyes mirror the soul).
- Suppression of natural urges like hunger, thirst, sleep, and the need to cry.
- Suppression or neglect of sleep. Also, changes in one's regular sleep/wake routine. Therefore, ayurveda has a different way of looking at eye problems. It sees them as the result of disturbed dosha-balance.
Let's observe the ayurvedic perspective on three common eye problems:
Crow's feet, dry eyes and eye strain
Causes: These problems are caused by a Pitta imbalance. Other factors include worry, lack of sleep, excessive intake of alcohol, or not drinking enough water.
Cures: Stop using chemical-and-preservative laden make-up. Rest your eyes as often as you can. Take regular breaks between computer jobs. Protect your eyes against direct sunlight. Look for a natural eye gel formula to provide support for the delicate skin around the eyes.
Dark circles under the eyes
Causes: This could be either a Vata or a Pitta imbalance. Look for these factors: have you been unwell lately? Not eating fresh food? Suffering menstrual problems? Are you anemic? Have you been suffering from anxiety or poor circulation? All these cause dark under-eye circles.
Cures: Soothe your eyes with cotton-wool dabbed in pure Organic Rose Water. Place the cotton pads on your eyes for ten minutes, and lie still to ease away tension. Avoid fried, greasy foods and leftovers — cook fresh meals. Close your eyes as often as you can, putting your palms against them to rest them further.
Causes: These are caused by an aggravated Kapha dosha. When prolonged, this condition can indicate that you might have a kidney or liver disorder — therefore seeing a physician is advised. Other causes include slow digestion, poor appetite, water retention and hormonal imbalances.
Cures: Drink lots of water, which will de-clog your body's channels. Eat lots of fresh fruit, and avoid make-up until the problem is solved. Do not sleep during the day.
Eye-Friendly Lifestyle Tips
Protect your eyes from the ravages of the elements — sun, wind and water. All of these can disturb the doshic balance of your eyes, interfering with good vision and causing strain and eye-fatigue. Wear sunglasses, scarves, or caps to shield your eyes when the elements are lashing about you.
One of the best eye-care routines you can follow is a daily self-massage or abhyanga. At some point in life, you are sure to have known the deliciously relaxed — almost sleepy — feeling that comes when you gently rub the soles of your feet with a warm herbalized oil such as the Youthful Skin Massage Oil. Done just 10 to 15 minutes daily, a massage will de-stress your eyes and fill you with radiance.
Stress is an enemy of the eyes. When you're tense, angry, or unhappy, your eyes look swollen, dull, and unhappy. Avoid stressful situations as far as you can. And when you are caught in one, respond to it as calmly as you can.
Stress disturbs sleep, and lack of sleep is one of the biggest eye-enemies. Make sure you get your full quota of rest to keep your eyes sparkling and fresh. Maharishi Ayurveda's Slumber Time Therapeutic Aroma Oil is a blend of six pure essential oils, including sweet orange, marjoram, lavender, and jasmine. If set up to diffuse a little before you go to bed, the relaxing aromas of these oils will ease you into sleep. For chronic sleep problems, Maharishi Ayurveda's Blissful Sleep and Deep Rest formulas are the answer.
Pay attention to what you drink. The best drink for those with puffy eyes and dark circles is plain warm water, which detoxifies the system. Avoid ice-cold and carbonated drinks. Stimulants such as caffeine and alcohol are eye-dullers. Try reducing or, ideally, giving up your intake of these substances, and your eyes will reflect the difference very soon. If you are in the mood for a beverage, try switching to Maharishi Ayurveda's mind/body beverages. Pick and sip from among a wide range of herbal teas, or try the Raja's Cup, a delicious time-tested beverage that stimulates the mind and energizes the body without a trace of caffeine.
Take time to learn what your body's nutrition needs are. In general, eyes feel nourished with foods like coconuts, raisins, papaya and sweet juicy fruits. Reduce your intake of sugar. Avoid red meat and heavy fried foods. These general rules work for everyone, but of course, a vaidya can advise you best on what particular dosha imbalance is causing your eye problems. He will prescribe you a diet routine accordingly.
Say yes to yoga. Some yoga asanas, like Shirshasana and Surya Namaskara asana are very beneficial for eyes — they boost circulation to the blood vessels and capillaries, relax the eyes, and, over a period of time, are reported to even improve vision.
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