Should you go upside-down if you have glaucoma?

Yoga Spy

iyac-rope-sirsasanaInverted poses are important in Iyengar yoga. Senior practitioners often cite an inversion as their most essential pose. (Sarvangasana (shoulderstand) seems to be a favorite.) Can anyone do inversions? General contraindications include spinal disorders, hypertension, and glaucoma. Recently, however, I’ve met yoga students with glaucoma who do brief inversions with the approval of their ophthalmologists. Hmm…

Around the same time, I read a PLOS ONE study published in December 2015 that measured intraocular pressure (IOP) in 10 subjects with primary open-angle glaucoma and 10 normal subjects during the following poses, each done for two minutes: Adho Mukha Svanasana, Uttanasana, Halasana, Viparita Karani. The researchers opted not to study Sirsasana (headstand) to see if less-inverted poses also affect IOP.

4posesIn both normal and glaucoma subjects, the following occurred:

  • IOP increased in all non-upright body positions. Pressures increased within one or two minutes after entering a pose. Likewise they returned to baseline values a few minutes after exiting the pose. (The prompt…

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