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How to Practice Yoga Safely with Glaucoma

Yoga was created to instill strength, awareness, and harmony in both the mind and body. It’s a popular way for people of all ages to practice breathing exercises, meditation, and assuming postures necessary for stretching various muscle groups. As therapeutic and meditative yoga can be, there are various risks that people with glaucoma need to be aware of before picking up a mat. Certain headstand positions, such as downward facing dog pose, are associated with a dramatic increase in intraocular fluid pressure (IOP). If you’re a yogi and have recently been diagnosed with glaucoma, read on to discover how you can improve your practice.

Increased IOP & Headstand Positions

A recent study from Mt. Sinai Systems captured the IOP in a group of people with no eye related disease and glaucoma patients as they performed a series of inverted yoga positions. Every pose raised IOP in both groups, with the greatest increases associated with downward facing dog pose. 

Modifying Your Practice

It’s best for yoga enthusiasts with glaucoma to avoid headstand positions during their routines. Since yoga is an individual exercise and can be tailored to the individual, the modification depends on the person. You can choose to opt for child’s pose or find another suitable pose that doesn’t involve a headstand. Before your practice, ensure that you inform your instructor of your glaucoma so he/she is aware not to encourage you to complete a headstand.

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