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Detached Retina and Eye Problems Contraindicated for Yoga Posture Inversions
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April 27, 2015
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November 6, 2008 - 3:49 am
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Hello there,

I'd like to know more about contraindicated postures or practices for one who is recovering from a detached retina. My intuitive sense is that inversions and forward bends such be avoided or taken with great caution. Can anyone elaborate on this?

Many thanks


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January 9, 2015 - 2:59 pm
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Detached retina and eye problems contraindicated for yoga postures inversions: The physical postures or asanas that are practiced in upside down position when our heart becomes above our head are considered as inversions in ancient therapy of yoga. The inverted poses are extremely beneficial for overall health of our body and brain as these physical postures are the best way to trigger relaxation and works as powerful stress busters.

Scientifically it is reported that when we perform inversion poses our heart become higher from our head in opposite position with respect to when we are in upright position. In this posture gravity causes more blood to flow in reverse direction towards head, creating extra pressure than normal conditions in arteries and also send signals to central nervous system. This process results in reducing arterial pressure and heart rate by relaxing blood vessels, decreasing production of adrenaline hormones and switching body towards relaxation mode. These poses are helpful for enhancing calming, quiet and comfortable effect on both mind and body. Inverted asanas provides innumerable advantages when practiced accurately under the supervision of expert teacher who help and guide us according to our level of strength, flexibility and medical requirements to avoid any harm or injury.

The inverted poses include full inversions like headstand, shoulder and handstand whereas partial inversions include downward facing dog, legs up the wall and standing forward bend. Sometimes these poses are said to be unsafe or harmful for people with specific medical conditions like high blood pressure, middle ear infection, circulatory disorder, bone weakness, pregnancy, retinal detachment, glaucoma and other eye problems. It is suggested that people suffering from these medical issues should consult and take advice of a physician before performing full or partial inversions. It is also important to develop strength and flexibility in upper body before practicing challenging inverted postures.
After investigating and analyzing data from different studies, ophthalmologists recommended that it is better to avoid inverted poses or use modified version and adjustments for practitioners who have eye problems like glaucoma, mucular degeneration, high myopia or detached retina because certain poses increase blood pressure behind eye known as inter ocular pressure (IOP).

The retinal veins of eyes are extremely delicate and are unable to protect the thin lining from sudden pressure of blood due to inverting. The eyes become blood shot after practicing these postures, retinal detachment is much common when anyone is very nearsighted. Headstand or handstand are challenging and advance level inversions that doubled the inter ocular pressure from 14-15 mm Hg to 31-34 mm Hg within 30 seconds and this pressure remain elevated till 13 minutes.

Partial inversions increase less IOP as compared to full, it is also better to perform alternate poses like reclining hero or reclining bound angle, standing forward bend or wide angle forward fold. The poses which are absolutely contraindicated for any level of glaucoma and retinal detachment include salamba sirsasana (headstand), vasalva maneuver (a posture in which practitioner has to exhale forcibly while keeping mouth and nose close) and paivrttakikapad sirsasana (revolved split legged headstand).

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