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'Eye Yoga' Is A Simple Way To Soothe Your Stress Over The Holidays, According To A Celebrity Yogi

© Courtesy of Koya Webb Koya Webb. Courtesy of Koya Webb
  • Koya Webb was a star track athlete before an injury ended that career and eventually led her to become a yoga teacher and health coach.

  • Webb taught Insider how to practice eye yoga, a 2-minute technique that eases eye strain and promotes relaxation.

  • She also recommended the "three-part breath" as a simple deep breathing technique to ease holiday (and year-round) stress.

Koya Webb can sit on the ground with her legs extended straight up and out to the sides, her arms parallel to the floor, grasping her feet. The celebrity yoga instructor and health coach can unfurl into a headstand, tilt into a backbend, and balance on one foot like an ice skater.

"If anyone sees me on social media, they're like, 'you're so flexible, you're so strong,'" told Insider.

But that wasn't always the case. A former track athlete with a chance to go to the Olympics, Webb suffered a back injury that ultimately ended that career. It was caused by overuse, poor sleep, and tight muscles, she said. "I couldn't touch my toes," Webb said.

But Webb's recovery led her to yoga - which, at the beginning, was simply deep breathing. Now she helps her followers and clients, who've included Stevie Wonder, India Aire, P. Diddy, and Ashley Judd, embrace daily self-care - something particularly critical during the holiday season capping off what for many was a tragic, life-altering year.

"I believe when we have challenges, they're actually meant to make us stronger," Webb said. "So no matter how rough, no matter how debilitating, no matter how sad, that if we're able to grow through the challenges and learn more about ourselves, learn more about others and learn more about the world, then actually that's the silver lining."

Webb talked to Insider about a few simple techniques anyone can use to find calm, and even joy, this season.

Eye yoga can relieve eye strain and promote relaxation

Eye yoga involves closing your eyes while intentionally moving your eyeballs in various directions. While there's no evidence that the practice can treat various eye diseases or improve vision, as some practitioners promote, it has been shown to reduce eye strain and is an accessible, subtle, and risk-free way to de-stress.

"The average American is in front of the phone or the computer at least four hours a day," Webb said, "and so that can cause eye strain and tension headaches, and it can add on to anxiety."

To practice eye yoga, simply close your eyes and take a few deep breaths while imagining the stress leave your eyes as you exhale. Then, with your eyes still closed, look all the way down, look all the way to the right, all the way up, and all the way to the left. Then, repeat in the opposite direction.

Roll your eyes in more fluid circles both directions, too, like you're massaging the backs of your eyelids with your eyeballs, Webb explained.

Finally, rub the palms of your hands together until they're warm, then place them on your closed eyes while zig-zagging your eyeballs once more.

Webb recommends doing eye yoga for just two minutes after every 30 minutes of computer use. You can also simply close your eyes really tight, and then blink them a couple of times to release the tension. "It also helps puffiness in the eyes if you didn't get sleep the night before," she said. "So it's really great to just do a little yoga every single day."

Anyone can do the three-part breath to ease full-body tension

Webb also recommends deep breathing as an alternative to full-body yoga.

"So many times people feel like they have to get a mat or have fancy yoga clothes to do yoga, but you don't have to," she said. But anyone can practice mindful movement, meditation, and breath work, which "really helps calm anxiety," Webb said.

"It really does help you turn on your parasympathetic nervous system, which helps you rest and digest, which most of us need because we're eating a lot and we're also not as not getting as much sleep at this time," she said.

For beginners, Webb recommends a three-part breath: Inhale for five seconds, hold for five seconds, and exhale for five seconds. Repeat while involving the shoulders, bringing them up, holding them, and releasing them along with your breath.

"Anyone can do this, whether you're at work or at home, just these little eye yoga and breathing exercises will help release some of that tension out of your shoulders, help your eyes relax," Webb said. "And you're going to feel a lot better."


By (Anna Medaris Miller)


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