Candle gazing benefits your vision, cognitive function, yoga and meditation practices, and more.
Candle gazing, also known as trataka, is a centuries-old yogic purification practice that involves staring at a fixed point or, more commonly, a candle flame. The word trataka in Sanskrit means “to gaze,” and the practice is believed to bring energy to one’s third-eye (sixth) chakra. The benefits of candle gazing include improved vision, memory, and concentration.
Therapeutic Benefits of Candle Gazing
As we age, it’s natural for our bodies to begin to break down. For instance, eye health deteriorates. A trataka practice can correct errors of refraction and strengthen the ability of the eye to adjust better to distances. It can also strengthen the muscles around the eyes.
Just as importantly, candle gazing has been shown to improve cognitive function in elderly people. It helps balance the nervous system and can be effective in relieving tension, anxiety, depression, and insomnia.
Spiritual Benefits of Candle Gazing
The spiritual benefits of a candle gazing practice are about bringing harmony and inner peace into your life. Trataka helps you develop strong willpower, intense concentration, and it improves clarity, focus, and memory.
Because candle gazing encourages you to focus on just the flame in front of you (preferably in a dark room), your concentration has nowhere else to go. If practiced regularly, your conscious mind gets a “workout,” and improved concentration and focus carry over into your spiritual practices. It’s also an excellent way to prepare yourself for meditation.
Physical Benefits of Candle Gazing
In addition to improving general eye health, trataka is beneficial for those who suffer from glaucoma, nearsightedness, as well as diabetes.
On top of all that, candle gazing improves sleep and energizes the body so you physically feel better and are able to accomplish more throughout each day. Candle gazing is especially effective when combined with your yoga practice.
How to Practice Candle Gazing
To get the most out of a trataka practice, I tell my students at MyYogaTeacher to practice candle gazing after finishing their physical yoga practice and yogic breathing exercises at least once weekly, but preferably daily.
Candle gazing is most beneficial in a dark, quiet room where you won’t be disturbed. Follow these steps for your practice:
- Sit comfortably on the floor on a yoga mat or blanket, upright, with legs crossed.
- Position the candle at least three feet away at eye level, so the candle is elevated off the ground. Candles should be non-toxic and odorless when burning.
- Focus on the floor or the base of the candle for the first 30 seconds.
- Then, focus intensely on the flame itself for 1-2 minutes. Avoid blinking if possible.
- Next, close your eyes and visualize the flame for as long as is comfortable.
- Spend this time focusing internally.
While this practice is safe for almost anyone, I recommend those with epilepsy choose something steady to gaze at, not a flickering flame. If you suffer from headaches or migraines, you should avoid candle gazing altogether as it may aggravate head pain.
Last, but not least, if you struggle with insomnia, be sure to start your candle gazing practice at least an hour before bed.