Yoga for the Homeless

Since I’ve been practicing yoga for 30+ years and teaching off and on for something like 25, it seemed only fitting that my first participation in the We Are the World Blogfest should share a positive and uplifting piece about yoga.  I love the idea of offering yoga to homeless people.  Knowing the power of yoga practice to balance your energy and move you into a stronger more centered space, I imagine these programs (this isn’t the only one out there) are having an important impact.

The five co-hosts for this month’s event are:

  1. Belinda Witzenhausen
  2. Lynn Hallbrooks
  3. Simon Falk
  4. Sylvia McGrath
  5. Damyanti Biswas

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More on vision a la Dr. Harry Sirota

Eyemuscles

Eyemuscles (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I write about Dr. Sirota and his revolutionary thinking about vision, I usually get some comments and private messages expressing interest, so after mentioning him in my last post I thought I’d update my long-ago piece about him.

Dr. Sirota believed that the 20/20 standard to which optometry and ophthalmology conform is an over-correction and causes tight muscles around the eyes to tighten further, which leads to deterioration of vision.  He also developed incredible insight into the psychological factors behind vision issues and the many ways in which vision impairment influences everything about your body and your emotional state.

The first visit with him lasted between three and four hours and every visit lasted at least two. He evaluated me and my movements and my life and what affected my vision to a depth I couldn’t have imagined. Dr. Sirota believed that near-sightedness begins with emotional trauma. The muscles behind the eyes tighten around the emotion and the pull on the eyes changes the shape of the cornea.

But there’s so much more to his work. By the time I got to Dr. Harry he’d been working so long on his ideas and knowledge about the relationship between vision and emotions and physical being that it was like visiting a psychic/shrink/ eye doctor.

He’d noted a deep relationship between what’s going on in the eyes and how the body moves.  As he worked on the prescription he’d put some lenses in the test glasses and have me walk forwards and backwards. “Mm, you’re throwing your left foot out to the side.” He’d change a lens and suddenly my foot straightened.  Or he’d try out a prescription and have me walk around, comment that I held one shoulder higher than the other and he’d shift the prescription and my shoulders would level out.

He’d have me walk backward toward a hanger and reach out a hand to touch the center. “You’re not really seeing where the center is….” Change lens, try again, change lens and suddenly I could walk backwards and touch the hanger in the center. By the time he decided on a final prescription my whole body would be moving differently and I’d feel more calm. Your eyes relate to so much in your body and so much about how you feel in your skin it’s amazing.

His prescriptions were very complex and quite expensive, but oh boy, the relaxation and comfort of wearing a pair of his glasses!

As I mentioned in the previous post, one key to his method was prescriptions that were reduced quite a bit from the 20/20 required by most optometrists. The strong prescription that is the norm creates tension so the muscles behind your eyes tighten more and the near-sightedness actually grows worse over time. It also causes your whole body to be more tense. When I put on my first pair of glasses from him the sense of relief was immense.

His work on this began when he entered the clinical phase of his training and kept noting that most people complained about discomfort every time they got a new prescription.  Most eye doctors will tell you you’ll adjust and aren’t concerned about the discomfort.  And most people do just get used to being uncomfortable.  It isn’t that it’s gone or corrected, you just become numb to it.  Dr. Sirota didn’t feel it was right for people to feel so unhappy with new prescriptions.

He couldn’t get the optometry community to listen to him but psychologists took an interest and he was invited all over the world to speak about his work. When he worked with a prison all kinds of behavior issues were resolved after inmates received his care for their eyes. The last I knew he had never found anyone in the vision care world who wanted to be trained in his work but he lived and continued working for many years after I moved, so I don’t know whether someone stepped up to the plate.

For me CranioSacral therapy and emotional release work have been key to getting the muscles to relax and my vision has improved immensely as a result so even though you can’t see him, you can address the issue of tight muscles around your eyes and bring your eyesight back.

If you or someone you know is near-sighted I highly recommend that you read the two articles below. Sadly Dr. Sirota died a few years ago so you can’t work with him but there a few people who are incorporating his work in other healing modalities.

This article has a really good interview with him, discussing his work:

There’s also an excellent article in the Chicago Tribune:

And one place has actually incorporated his work into something they call Sirota Repatterning

The miracle of the glasses

English: A pair of reading glasses with LaCost...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Boy has time gotten away from me!  A combo of car shopping, car selling, crazy muscles, lack of sleep…  Even got hit from behind on the way home from a car dealership…  fender bender.

Anyway, the miracle arrives in the cleaning out my car portion of the story, but there’s a story before that…

Long ago I wrote about the late, amazing Dr. Sirota, an eye doctor whose revolutionary theories changed the lives — and vision — of multitudes of patients.  He felt nearsightedness is caused by emotional trauma that leads to tightening the muscles around your eyes.

He also felt most modern eye doctors over prescribe; we aren’t designed to have 20/20 vision and glasses that are too strong cause the muscles to tighten more.  So he actually reduced the prescriptions he gave his patients.  Unsettling at first, I wore the first pair of glasses and viewed a blurry world.  I got up on the el and looked across at the other platform, noting I could no longer read the name of the station on the sign over there.

Over some days my eyes relaxed more, I went off on a vacation and then came back, went up to the el platform and read the sign across the way quite clearly.  The muscles had relaxed that much in something like 10 days!  Soon, I could start feeling the tension returning and my eyes aching as my eyes improved and the glasses became too strong.

We went through a number of pairs of increasingly weaker glasses until we hit the place where he said he couldn’t give me something weaker.  From this point, I’d have to let go of the issues hanging on to the muscles.

Many years of searching, releasing, etc. ensued–for many reasons, not just the pursuit of better vision 🙂 .  A different vision therapist (I’d moved across the country) set me on another path.  But I always hung onto the last pair of glasses Dr. Sirota prescribed for me.

Fast forward to when the unwinding muscles started.  Before long I couldn’t wear the special contacts prescribed by my second vision therapist and the super strong glasses he gave me made my head ache.  I pulled out Dr. Sirota’s glasses.  Since I’m nearsighted and I spend most of my life doing close-up work, I don’t really need glasses most of the time.  So I used those glasses to drive.

My vision with the glasses was still rather blurry though better than when I first got them.  And as the muscles kept unwinding I could see a little better with them.  Until the day–probably five or six years ago– I left them on the console around the gear shift on my car and someone borrowed the car.

The next time I got in, no glasses.  I searched the whole car, felt under the seats multiple times.  No glasses.  Over the years, even though I figured they’d gotten knocked out of the car, every time something dropped under one of the seats I got in front and back and felt around, hoping the glasses would show up.  No glasses.

Yesterday, as I began picking stuff up from the floor of the back seat, I thought about the glasses and silently prayed they’d show up.  I moved the mat around some and felt around.  No glasses.  I moved to the front on the same side, picked up a few things and looked down at the floor just under the seat.  THE GLASSES!  Sitting right there in plain sight.

So somehow those glasses flew off the console and became wedged under the mat so thoroughly that after years of periodically tapping around under the seats they couldn’t be felt or seen.  Or poltergeists took them.  That’s my theory.  And now just as I’m about to pass my beloved Jetta along to another owner, I have Dr. Sirota’s glasses again.

For this last spell of unwinding, while I still need some amount of prescription, I can quit driving with the over prescribed glasses giving me a headache and wear the reduced prescription pair from lovely Dr. Sirota. I thought it was a wonderful miracle.

Healing Journey Monday: Vision and your body and soul

 

 

Modern pair of glasses

Modern pair of glasses (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Last Thursday I began the tale of healing my head and mentioned Dr. Harry Sirota. He was an optometrist and created an amazing methodology for working with vision. I’m providing links below to a couple of articles that describe his work in more detail than I’m providing. I just want to talk about what I recall from my visits with him, starting in 1987.

The first visit with him lasted between three and four hours and every visit lasted at least two. He evaluated me and my movements and my life and what affected my vision to a depth I couldn’t have imagined. Dr. Sirota believed that near-sightedness begins with emotional trauma. The muscles behind the eyes tighten around the emotion and the pull on the eyes changes the shape of the cornea. But there’s so much more to his work. By the time I got to Dr. Harry he’d been working so long on his ideas and knowledge about the relationship between vision and emotions and physical being that it was like visiting a psychic/shrink/ eye doctor.

I’d sit in the chair and he’d gaze over and announce, “You had trouble with your father about ____ didn’t you?” I’d look up in surprise and he’d say something like, “the way you’re holding your left leg….” As he worked on the prescription he’d put some lenses in the test glasses and have me walk forwards and backwards. “Mm, you’re throwing your left foot out to the side.” He’d change a lens and suddenly my feet straightened.

I walked backward and reached my hand toward a hanger. “You’re not really seeing where the center is….” Change lens, try again, change lens and suddenly I could walk backwards and touch the hanger in the center. By the time he decided on a final prescription my whole body would be moving differently and I’d feel more calm. Your eyes relate to so much in your body and so much about how you feel in your skin it’s amazing.

One key to his method was prescriptions that were reduced quite a bit from the 20/20 required by most optometrists. The strong prescription that is the norm creates tension so the muscles behind your eyes tighten more and the near-sightedness actually grows worse over time. It also causes your whole body to be more tense. When I put on my first pair of glasses from him the sense of relief was immense.

The first time I went up on the el wearing my new glasses I could no longer read the signs on the other side. A week later I went off on a seven day cruise. When I came back my eyes had already relaxed so much that I could see the signs clearly—and feel the tension creeping back. Three weeks after I got the first pair he was giving me a new prescription. By the time I moved to California in 1991 I’d been through a number of reduced prescriptions and Dr. Sirota finally told me that he couldn’t reduce it any more. I’d have to do eye exercises and address the emotional issues in order to get any farther.  I don’t think either of us realized how arduous a journey I faced from there (another story for another day) but Dr. Sirota’s revolutionary work not only changed my vision but profoundly impacted my life.

He couldn’t get the optometry community to listen to him but psychologists took an interest and he was invited all over the world to speak about his work. When he worked with a prison all kinds of behavior issues were resolved after inmates received his care for their eyes. The last I knew he had never found anyone in the vision care world who wanted to be trained in his work but he lived and continued working for many years after I moved, so I don’t know whether someone stepped up to the plate.

If you or someone you know is near-sighted I highly recommend that you read the two articles below. Sadly Dr. Sirota died last year so you can’t work with him but there are other vision therapists out there and a few people who are incorporating his work in other healing modalities.

 

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