Written by: Justin Cowart
Yoga has so many wonderful benefits for not only our mind, but our bodies and spirits as well. Personally, I strive to do a few yoga positions that resonate with me the most, on a daily basis. I can tell you that it is something that can bring so many benefits that they become numerous.
What Is Glaucoma?
Right now, glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness in the U.S. It horribly affects the quality of life for patients with moderate to even severe visual loss. I don’t know for sure, but I can imagine it is extremely hard to go through life with extensive loss in vision, if not complete loss in vision. Frustrating, if nothing else.
Elevated intraocular pressure (IOP) is the most common known risk factor for glaucomatous damage and even with tremendous leaps forward in the medical field that we see today. This is the only risk factor that we have the knowledge to prevent or slow the progression of this particular disease.
In previous research and studies that have been conducted in regards to glaucoma, all results and case reports have only shown that any headstand positions, which during the study showed a marked two-fold rise in IOP.
With this current study, the researchers broke up the participants of the study into two different groups; one were healthy patients who did not have any eye-related diseases and the other group consisted of patients who suffered from glaucoma.
The test that the participants were required to perform were a series of yoga positions that consisted of a series of inverted yoga positions, which included legs up the wall, standing forward bend, downward facing dog and plow. Next, the researchers were able to capture the IOP from both of the groups from the base of the participants being at a seating position. After intervals of 2 and 10 minutes, the results of the study caught the researchers by surprise.
The results that the researchers were able to ascertain from their studies participants was that both the normal group and the glaucoma group, showed a rise in IOP with all four of the different yoga positions. The one position that had the largest increase of pressure was the downward facing dog.
First author of the research Jessica Jasien, M.En., said that:
“While our study results don’t show a dramatic difference in IOP between the normal participants and those with glaucoma, we believe that additional research, with a larger study population and longer durations of practicing the inverted positions is warranted.
As we know that any elevated IOP is the most important known risk factor for development and progression of nerve damage to the eye, the rise in IOP after assuming the yoga poses is of concern for glaucoma patients and their treating physicians. In addition, glaucoma patients should share with their yoga instructors their disease to allow for modifications during the practice of yoga.”
What Does Downward Facing Dog Do For Me?
The position, downward dog, does seem to have huge benefits for your body such as helping with stiffness and pain in the back, as well as helping to promote circulation and to build up bone density.
The results of this study show me that even though yoga can be incredible at keeping one healthy/fit, it also shows that no matter how wonderful something is, all things need to be done in moderation. Always be sure to seek counsel with your family doctor when taking on any forms of alternative health, regardless of what it may be.
We would love to hear your thoughts and ideas about how yoga can affect people with Glaucoma in the comments below.
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