The visual system is at the top of the neural hierarchy and significantly influences our sight, mood, movement and even pain levels. But what is it? Or skip to how you can use it in your yoga practice.
The visual system is a complex network of structures and processes that allow us to see and interpret the world around us. From the simplest of shapes to the most intricate of details, our visual system processes a vast amount of information in real time, enabling us to navigate our environment and make sense of our surroundings. So what are the key components of the visual system?
The first component of the visual system is the eye. The eye is a highly specialised organ that receives light and converts it into neural signals that can be interpreted by the brain. The eye is composed of several structures, including the cornea, iris, lens, and retina.
The second component of the visual system is the brain. The brain is responsible for interpreting the signals sent from the eye and creating the images we see. The process of visual perception begins in the retina, where photoreceptors detect light and send signals to the brain through the optic nerve.
Once the signals reach the brain, they are processed in a series of stages. The first stage is called the primary visual cortex, which is responsible for basic visual processing, such as detecting edges and shapes. As the signals move through the brain, they are processed in increasingly complex ways, with each region of the brain responsible for different aspects of visual perception, such as colour, depth, and motion.
The final component of the visual system is visual perception. Visual perception is the process by which the brain interprets the visual information received from the eye and creates the images we see. Visual perception is a complex process that involves not only the visual system but also other areas of the brain, such as memory and attention.
Visual perception allows us to recognise objects, understand spatial relationships, and navigate our environment. It is essential for many aspects of our daily lives, such as reading, driving, and even social interaction.
So now you know that the visual system is a complex network of structures and processes that work together to create the images we see. From the eye to the brain, each component plays a critical role in the process of visual perception.
How does the visual system relate to your yoga practice?
One way that yoga can benefit the visual system is through the practice of eye exercises. Yoga eye exercises, or eye yoga, involve moving the eyes through various positions and focusing on different points to improve eye health, overall mood, pain, movement and vision. Some of the most commonly practised eye yoga exercises include eye rotations, palming, and eye blinking.
Eye rotations involve moving the eyes in a circular motion, both clockwise and counterclockwise. This exercise can help improve eye muscle strength and flexibility, and can also reduce eye strain and improve focus.
Palming involves covering the eyes with the palms of the hands and taking a few deep breaths. This exercise can help reduce eye strain and promote relaxation, which can benefit the overall health of the visual system. Another benefit is that palming can increase flexion - more detail on this in the next blog post.
Eye blinking involves consciously blinking the eyes several times in a row. This exercise can help reduce dryness and irritation in the eyes, which can be beneficial for those who spend long hours staring at screens or engaging in other visually demanding tasks.
There are so many ways you can stimulate the visual system in your yoga practice. This month we’re going to explore these methods and many, many more in our online yoga classes. Try a two-week free trial today and strengthen your visual system!