My yoga practice needs “re-visioning”. Not because it lacks variety or direction. No, it needs to be revised because I just learned it may be counterproductive to my eyesight.
A few days ago, my optometrist handed me a diagnosis of glaucoma. It came after a follow-up visit with a more extensive peripheral vision exam, and a set of detailed photos of my optical nerves. My optical nerve in my right eye is clearly damaged, it has gaps in peripheral viewing capability and the pictures show deterioration. Totally sobering.
The clue in the first visit to the eye doctor that he should dig deeper, increased intraocular eye pressure using the “puff of air” glaucoma test. I am now on eye drops to reduce this eye pressure. Apparently, I will need to take these drops for life, or at least until I have cataract or another laser surgery at some distant point.
Now here is the thing, glaucoma is contra-indicated for a lot of the yoga I do. See: Head-down yoga poses increase eye pressure in glaucoma patients from the American Optometric Association for example. Being upside down in even a “simple” down dog has been shown to increase intraocular pressure. And you know I love being upside down. In fact, I was hanging upside down in aerial yoga just an hour before my second visit with the optometrist, and my eye pressure was in normal range during that office visit. Will that be my last time for aerial yoga? The blog post before this one was all about down dog. Maybe those were some of my last "dogs" ever?
What I do know, is that many of the most pivotal times for me as I journeyed towards becoming a yoga instructor, were when my own asana (physical) practice was paused. The times that I had a sore elbow, or stiff shoulder, or bum knee. The times that I was a bit emotionally broken for some reason. This was when my own instructors drove home that yoga was more than down dog, more than headstand, more than asana. It was then that I learned that yoga was about the philosophy of life as a whole.
My life as a whole is pretty good, and I take the glaucoma thing as just one more chapter yet to be written. Let’s see what happens.