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Vision and Posture

Nathan Oxenfeld
Your thoughts, emotions and eyesight are influenced by your posture.

Your thoughts, emotions and eyesight are influenced by your posture.

Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Likewise we can ask which came first, poor vision or poor posture? Vision and posture are intricately linked. The eyes are extensions of the brain and therefore a part of our central nervous system. When light strikes the photoreceptor cells (rods and cones) on the retina in the back of the eye, signals and messages travel as impulses and synapses through the optic nerve to the visual cortex in the back of the brain, which processes and interprets information to send down the spinal cord and onward to the rest of the body. If the posture is poor and the body is slumped or hunched, these lightning-fast connections can be severed or skewed. Improper posture over time can gradually lead to shallow breathing, decreased circulation, stagnated lymph flow, physical fatigue and blurred vision. So both scenarios are possible. It can start with poor posture and lead to poor vision, or it can start with poor vision (from mental strain) and lead to poor posture.

Once vision is affected by poor posture and begins to blur, the posture often worsens through a strain to see either a close or distant object by reaching the neck forward or cranking it back. Vision and posture are intertwined and can either work together to spiral downward toward imbalance or spiral upward toward optimal functioning. The neat thing about this subject is that proper posture is often a natural side effect of practicing the Bates Method. Your body will start to realize that clearer vision comes when in a comfortable and correct posture, which begins establishing the new habit automatically. So don’t stress too much about sitting up straight or forcing yourself into a posture that doesn’t feel like you. Just stick with the vision improvement and the posture will readjust on its own. There are also several other modalities that can help you improve your posture and release stored tension throughout the spine and body. These include Massage, Acupressure, Acupuncture, Alexander Technique, Network Spinal Analysis, Yoga, Qigong and more.

I used to slouch significantly myself. Not only did I devote lots of time to poor-posture-promoting activities such as reading, writing, school work, computer work and video games, but also my tall height forced me to look down at other people and scrunch my spine to get on their level. As a tall person, I had to compromise my full posture potential to fit into an average sized world by bending down to reach low counters and see in “average” heighted mirrors. Luckily, I recognized my bad habits early on and set an intention to improve my posture, stand with more confidence, relax my shoulders, and expand my heart to allow for more breath to enter my system and to prevent ending up with a hunchback. It has been a long and steady process, but through daily mental reminders, practicing yoga, meditation, breathwork and most of the other modalities listed above, my posture slowly transformed from the 2nd to the 1st position in the diagram below and assisted me in improving my eyesight holistically.


How do you stand? 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th or 5th position?

Tip: Try and see from your spine. Instead of reaching your eyes outward and straining or squinting to see something in the distance, try relaxing back into your center or your core, like you are seeing with the visual cortex in the very back of your brain. This practice encourages relaxed use of the eyes and takes the pressure of the need to see. It also allows for deep, rhythmic breathing and a gentle tuck of the chin to elongate the spine and encourage more upright posture.


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