Interesting question. My first response would be – what does the student’s doctor suggest? Often with glaucoma, which is a build up of pressure within the eye, inversions, breath retentions, strong static bandhas are counter-indicated because they can increase pressure in the head and the eyes. But, as always, it is the student who has to judge if any of these actions or position actually feel like they are increasing the pressure. Until then, there is only the speculation that pressure would increase.
In Yin Yoga we don’t employ pranayama and bandhas (although you certainly could!) and there are only a couple of inversions where the head is below the heart: Snail and Dangling. In most other postures the heart is the below the head, so these should be relatively safe for your student.
Here are several points from Johns Hopkins Medicine
on what to do, or not do with glaucoma:
- o Don’t smoke and limit sunlight exposure (even though they don’t relate to glaucoma)
o Do aerobic exercise
o Do no exercises with your head below your heart
o Breathe continuously through all exercise (don’t hold your breath)
o Special cautions for musical wind instrument players
o Use your eyes all you want (Mom was wrong about this one)
This advice mirrors what I suggested above. But, above all, have your student monitor her/his own experience during the practice, right after the practice and even over the next 48 hours. If she/he notices things got worse, try to work out which pose or action may have been the culprit and modify the practice accordingly. Trial and error may take a while, but it could be worth it. Remember though – ask what the doctor suggested!