Below are some excerpts of the studies and articles I found on this subject.
I’m not gonna lie, it’s interesting but VERY dry reading.
Citations are at the bottom along with a list for further reading.
IOP & Meditation
IOP = Intraocular Pressure = measurement of the fluid pressure inside the eye.
It (Meditation) has multiple potential benefits for normal-pressure and high-pressure glaucoma patients including a reduction in intraocular pressure, increasing cerebral blood flow and oxygenation, and decreasing action of the sympathetic nervous system with a corresponding increase in parasympathetic nervous system activity.
Meditation leads to a “relaxation response” mediated by nitric oxide with decrease in the stress hormone cortisol, increase in neurotrophins and mitochondrial energy production, and improves the overall quality of life of glaucoma patients. 1
IOP & Pranayama and Diaphragmatic Breathing Study
Yogic pranayama and diaphragmatic breathing are potential adjunctive therapies for patients with glaucoma; however, they are not substitutes for medicine or eye drops.
Currently, medical or surgical lowering of intraocular pressure is the only therapeutic approach for treating primary open-angle glaucoma. Intraocular pressure maintenance is influenced by autonomic activity (sympathetic and parasympathetic). “Yogic pranayama” and “diaphragmatic breathing” are exercises that can affect autonomic activity by stimulating a wakeful hypometabolic state of parasympathetic dominance. We aimed to assess the effect of yogic pranayama and diaphragmatic breathing on intraocular pressure to determine whether it can be recommended for individuals with established glaucoma in combination with glaucoma medication as an adjuvant therapy.
Compared with the wait-list group, the yogic pranayama and diaphragmatic breathing exercise group had significantly lowered intraocular pressure (right eye: 20.85±3.39 to 14.90±2.86 mm Hg; left eye: 20.30±4.12 to 14.25±3.85 mm Hg; P<0.001).
Yogic pranayama and diaphragmatic breathing exercises can reduce intraocular pressure in patients with primary open-angle glaucoma and can therefore be recommended as an adjuvant therapy.3
IOP in regard to Downward Facing Dog, Uttanasana, + More…
In previous research, studies and case reports had tested only the headstand position, which showed a marked two-fold rise in IOP. In the new study, researchers had healthy participants with no eye-related disease and glaucoma patients perform a series of inverted yoga positions, including downward facing dog, standing forward bend, plow, and legs up the wall. They captured the IOP in each group at baseline seated, immediately assuming the pose, two minutes while holding the pose, right after they performed each pose in the seated position, and then again 10 minutes after resting in the seated position.
Both normal and glaucoma study participants showed a rise in IOP in all four yoga positions, with the greatest increase of pressure occurring during downward facing dog. When the measurements were taken after the participants returned to a seated position and again after waiting ten minutes, the pressure in most cases remained slightly elevated from the baseline.
“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,” said first author Jessica Jasien, M.En., research associate with the Shelley and Steven Einhorn Clinical Research Center at NYEE.2
More Resources on Yoga Practices & Eye Pressure
1 Dada, Tanuj, et al. “Meditation: A Polypill for Comprehensive Management of… : Journal of Glaucoma.” LWW, Journal of Glaucoma, Feb. 2020, journals.lww.com/glaucomajournal/Abstract/2020/02000/Meditation__A_Polypill_for_Comprehensive.11.aspx.
2 Mount Sinai Health System. “Certain yoga positions may impact eye pressure in glaucoma patients.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 January 2016. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/01/160107105234.htm.
3 Udenia, Hemlata MS; Mittal, Sunita MD†; Agrawal, Ajai MS; Singh, Anvita PhD‡; Singh, Anupam MS; Mittal, Sanjeev K. MS, FICO, MNAMS Yogic Pranayama and Diaphragmatic Breathing: Adjunct Therapy for Intraocular Pressure in Patients With Primary Open-angle Glaucoma: A Randomized Controlled Trial, Journal of Glaucoma: February 2021 – Volume 30 – Issue 2 – p 115-123