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My Inbox - Breathing and Eye Pressure

Submitted by dave on Sun, 08/05/2007 - 12:30pm

 Below is part of a very interesting email a reader sent me a little while ago. I asked for his permission to share some of it here. I hope this person eventually finds time to start a blog on or share more of his experiences. I could learn a lot from him, and I suspect many other people would like to hear more about his experiences with intraocular pressure. Currently, I believe he minimizes the amount of time he spends at the computer; therefore, he doesn't seem to be inclined to do much email or blogging.

Hi Dave
First of all I want to congratulate you for all the diligent work you are doing. I really appreciate it. I only came upon your site a couple of days ago. I am a yoga teacher and a patient of Alan Tillotson. Like you, I have experimented with ways of controlling intraocular pressure. At the moment my eye pressures are 13 and 12, but I'm on Timoptol XE 0.25% and Travatan. I'm keen to at least go off the Timoptol.

My primary open angle glaucoma is moderately advanced with significant visual field loss, particularly in the left eye.

With my background in yoga and Ayurveda I have searched high and low for ways of controlling intraocular pressure. I do not have a tonometer like yourself but I have a friendly optometrist who humours me.

Like you I was fascinated with the research on nasal dominance and intraocular pressure and corresponded with Dr. Josh Backon. I confirmed that blocking the left nostril in my case led to bilateral intraocular pressure reductions.

I have also confirmed repeatedly that the practice of alternate nostril breathing (nadi shodhan pranayama) also markedly lowers my eye pressure as well as having a subjective effect of relaxing the eyes.

No other pranayama has had that effect -- with the possible exception of brahmari (bumble bee) pranayam, which involves humming while blocking the ears. Humming also generates nitric oxide in the sinuses and clears them out which may mean it could help reduce intraocular pressure longer term.

Also Swami Ramdev, who is the new Indian TV yoga superstar, claims that he has "cured" thousands of cases of glaucoma with his set of pranayamas, the main ones are kapalabhati (rapid abdominal breathing) and anulom vilom which is a sort of forceful alternate nostril breathing.

I found this email fascinating and I hope to hear more from this individual. We both agreed that we were skeptical of Swami Ramdev and his claims about curing thousands of cases of glaucoma, but the information about the pranayama techniques is valuable. There is no doubt that breathing patterns affect intraocular pressure. I also believe that pranayama represents the most advanced body of knowledge in existence about breathing techniques. I believe we, as glaucoma patients, can learn a lot by studying (and applying) pranayama techniques.

Thanks for the email!

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