Reviews

Eye Yoga: How You See is How You Think

Are you squinting as you try to read this? Everyone think you’re ten years younger until you pull out a pair of readers?  Want to improve your vision without surgery?

Prepare to be entertained as your eyes are opened to new possibilities with Eye Yoga: How You See is How You Think. Drawing from such diverse fields as brain neuroplasticity, Neuro-Linguistic Programming and natural vision improvement, authors Martha Rigney and Jane Battenberg make important connections between the eyes and brain that can reawaken deep brain capacities through simple eye exercises. Easy-to-follow diagrams and photographs help you perform the exercises with ease.

Eye Yoga is written in an easy, light style, offering a depth of experiences and references. Introducing advanced research, Martha and Jane reveal essential insights concerning the eye/brain and TV-watching, video games, the effects of colors, stroke recovery, visualization therapy, the irises’ ability to reflect our innate personality, and many other topics.

—Kat Turner, publisher at Langdon Press

Improve your vision by way of ‘eye yoga’

Eye exercises can help maintain or improve vision and eye-brain coordination.  According to Jane Rigney Battenberg and Martha Rigney in their book, Eye Yoga, you can reawaken deep brain capacities that have been lost over time.  “Eye Yoga stretches the eye muscles to increase their flexibility, relaxation ability and stamina,” they say.  Here are a few exercises you can try:

Clock circles: Look up to the 12:00 of an imaginary clock in front of you.  Keeping your head still, slowly sweep your gaze around the clock face.  Reverse and repeat, adjusting circle size and speed as you go.

Finger push-ups: Hold your index finger at arm’s length from the tip of your nose.  Slowly move your finger closer and farther away, keeping it in focus.  Repeat five to eight times.

V-in and V-out: With your index and middle finger, make a V-shape at a comfortable distance in front of you.  Slightly cross your eyes and focus on a spot in front of the V for the V-in and behind it for V-out, until you see three fingers.  Focus on the center one until you can clearly see the tip where the two fingers come together.  Cup your hands over your closed eyes to relax them once you finish.

—Christine J. Kim, USA, Weekend Edition

The Eyes Have It

No doubt, yoga has taken Newport Beach by storm. It seems there is a new yoga studio that pops up every month offering a variety of classes. Those seeking to further align the mind-body connection, while improving their eyesight, give eye yoga a try.  You can do it at home, don’t need a mat and the results are immediate with only a few minutes of eye exercises a day.
Find out everything you want to know in the book Eye Yoga, co-written by sisters Dr. Jane Rigney Battenberg and Martha M. Rigney. Eye Yoga is a comprehensive book that not only provides detailed exercises for the eyes, but also gives readers an in-depth look at exactly how our eyes and brain are connected.

The sisters explain how doing eye yoga will not only improve your vision, but improve the way you view the world, the way you think, and ultimately, the way you feel.
Eye yoga creates stronger eye muscles to be sure, but it also creates new neuropathways in the brain, the authors say, awaking new capabilities.

The eye-brain connection starts as early as the first month of embryonic development.  The book says about embryos: “The brain has two button-shaped discs or eye buds on either side, and as the eye buds move around to the front of the head they extend externally as the skull develops.”  Eyes begin as part of the brain and are literally throughout our life, “an external extension of the brain.”

So, it would follow, eye exercises are also brain exercises.  The exercises are simple: following a partner’s index finger and having the partner relay which eye seems to begin to shift or wander first. Or following a partner’s finger as it draws a figure eight in the air.

Last week, Newport Beach resident Jean MacFarland attended an eye yoga workshop led by author Battenberg at Visions & Dreams on Newport Boulevard.  She said, “After doing just a few eye exercises I found my vision had improve noticeably. With the opportunity of new pathways, old habits and ruts can be eliminated and a fresh new way of thinking can emerge.  I am excited to discover what is available for me.”

Battenberg helps illustrate the eye-brain connection in simple terms.

“Think of your childhood home – how many windows did it have?” she asks.  Reflexively – our eyes go upward as the brain tries to construct pictures.  The eyes going up actually activates the visual part of the brain.  Conversely, our eyes go down when we are concentrating on remembering a feeling or talking to ourselves.  This relationship is true of all aspects of the brain including cognition, emotion, and memory.  By enhancing eye muscles and eyesight, we are accessing and stimulating more of our brain.

While eye yoga is good for anyone and will improve vision, it is not a cure for serious eye conditions or diseases that should be treated by specialists.

— Paige Turner, published by Newport Beach Independent

 

Using Simple Eye Exercises to Explore How Sight and Insight Interact to Shape What We See.

Although visual perception is fundamental to all arts fields, the impact of how we use — and care for — our eyes gets relatively little attention.  In school we all learned, on an abstract level, that our visual perception is fabricated by the brain out of the welter of electrical and chemical signals sent up the optic nerve, from the retina to the brain. For this reason, what we experience as sight is, in fact, a product of the mind. The human eye is a wondrous biological light-gathering device but vision is manufactured in the brain.

The sister team of Jane Rigney Battenberg and Martha Rigney have provided all who care about the arts with a thought-provoking investigation of how these physiological facts shape what we see. On one level, their book describes a system of eye exercises designed to improve vision and help people use their eyes in a healthy way. The reference to “yoga” in the title is reflected in their emphasis on the importance of stretching and strengthening the eye muscles; this helps to keep the eyes healthy and also minimize the strain caused by fixating on computer screens or printed pages for hours at a time. There is also a deeper connection to yogic practice in their examination of the habitual choices we make about where to focus of our attention.

Battenberg and Rigney argue that thoughtful use of eye exercises can awaken a deep sense of connection with the world, an assertion that resonates with John Dewey’s view of art: The sources of art in human experience will be learned by him who sees how the tense grace of the ball-player infects the onlooking crowd; who notes the delight of the housewife tending her plants … the zest of the spectator in poking the wood burning on the hearth and in watching the darting flames and crumbling coals (Dewey, 1981, p. 527-8).

In Western culture, the immediacy of such experience has come to be considered of lesser importance than the byproduct—the building, book, painting, or statue—that records it: what we conventionally think of as “art”.  In contrast, for Dewey, artistic activity served as a model for the combination of active engagement and sensitive receptivity that unifies experience and gives rise to creative thinking:

A painter must consciously undergo the effect of every brush stroke or he will not be aware of what he is doing and where his work is going.  Moreover, he has to see each particular connection of doing and undergoing in relation to the whole that he desires to produce.  To apprehend such relations is to think, and is one of the most exacting modes of thought (Dewey, 1981, p. 563-4).

As Battenberg and Rigney point out, the eyes are literally an external extension of the brain. Gray’s Anatomy (1988) describes the process by which the eyes are formed in embryonic development: “The optic nerve and the retina are developed as an outgrowth of the rudimentary brain, which extends toward the side of the head…” (p. 1180). The relationship between eye movements and thinking becomes evident soon after birth, as the baby learns to use his or her eyes to guide every move. “Although most people are born with the potential to see, vision itself is learned. We learn to interpret the light falling on the retina. Most of this learning occurs naturally before the age of six” (Cook, 1991, p. 76).

Although, as yet, there is no scientific consensus as to whether eye exercises will improve vision in the average person, many individuals argue passionately that such exercises have helped them stop the deterioration of their vision and attain clearer sight. Battenberg and Rigney invite the reader to adopt an attitude of relaxed curiosity, akin to the natural progression experienced by a young child, while trying out the eye exercises. In building their case for vision therapy, they describe the inner workings of the visual system and draw from such diverse fields as brain neuroplasticity, Neuro-Linguistic Programming and natural vision improvement.

However, the authors’ light-hearted exploration of the connection between sight and insight is enough to justify buying this engaging book. They note: “We begin to see that vision is not a stand-alone process, but is integrally related to our motor skills, such as balance, eye-hand coordination and ‘where we are’ in relationship to the world” (Battenberg & Rigney, 2010, p. 137). By becoming conscious of visual processes of which we are normally unconscious, we are able to recognize the order imposed on experience by the mind. New links are observed among the varied parts of daily life, highlighting the connection between thought and insight. This makes open-minded experimentation with the exercises described in the this book an eye-opening experience for those who value esthetic insight. As John Dewey once observed:

Thinking is pre-eminently an art; knowledge and propositions which are the products of thinking, are works of art, as much so as statuary and symphonies … Scientific method or the art of constructing true perceptions, is ascertained in the course of experience to occupy a privileged position in undertaking other arts. But this unique position only places it the more securely as an art (1981, pp. 316-317).

References Dewey, J. (1934). Art as Experience.  New York: Minton, Balch & Company.

Dewey, J. (1956) The Child and the Curriculum. and The School and Society.  Chicago:  University of Chicago Press. Dewey, J. (1981) The Philosophy of John Dewey. John J. McDermott (Ed.) Chicago:  University of Chicago Press. Gray, H. (1988). Gray’s anatomy: The classic collector’s edition. New York: Gramercy.

—Liane Brouillette, published by University of California Irvine

 

Endorsements

Eye Yoga is a visionary book about vision. It offers state-of-the-art practices to improve one’s seeing of both outer as well as inner worlds. The authors address both sight and insight in ways that add new possibilities to human experience. The techniques offered here are superb and enhance both physical and mental performance in unexpected and deeply gratifying ways. Read this book, do the exercises and see a new world.”
־ Jean Houston, PhD., author of numerous books including A Passion for the Possible,
A Mythic Life, and Jump Time

“The eyes guide your every move. Thus, your vision is reflected in every step you take. Change your vision and your life will surely change. This book will show you how.”
־ Jacob Liberman, OD, PhD., Author of Light: Medicine of the Future, Take off Your Glasses and See, and See & Wisdom From an Empty Mind

Eye Yoga challenges the current myths about vision and gives the reader a very clear road map on how to improve one’s eyesight and vision. The exercises are excellent tools to help a variety of vision problems. I highly recommend it!”
– Sam Berne, published author in the field of vision therapy

” This is an excellent book. Just as our vision serves to connect our inner and outer worlds, this book serves to make many important connections for the reader-connecting the eye with the brain, connecting thinking and seeing, and connecting eye exercises with vision. Many of the eye exercises are done with a partner, which serves to create another connection. I highly recommend this book”
– Dr. Neal Apple, Opthamologist

“Stated in simple language without hype, Eye Yoga is a uniquely gentle path to better vision. It is eager curiosity not forced discipline that brings success. In the process you’ll discover how your brain works your eyes to see your deeper self. “
-Ray Gottlieb, O.D, PhD

“Not only would people with vision problems benefit from reading this book, but so would all psychotherapists.”
-Dr. Lee Hartley, Marriage and Family Therapist, Psychotherapist