Many of us first encounter the eye mask (or eye pillow) in a yoga class; yoga instructors often recommend these to their students to place over their eyes during the deep relaxation phase that usually ends a session of yoga. They can be readily purchased for $10-$15, but you can make your own to suit your own needs for much less.
You can use fabric remnants to make your eye pillow. Eye pillows are placed over your closed eyes as you lie down, either to relax or to sleep, so consider comfort first; a rough or scratchy fabric would not be suitable for making your eye pillow. They can also be chilled in the freezer or heated in a microwave or an oven set on very low.
A slick fabric, like satin or silk, is cooling in itself; a fuzzier fabric, like flannel, would warm nicely. You may want to make pillows for different temperatures. Some types of headaches respond well to cold, and sinus congestion to heat.
Eye pillows can be 3-4 inches wide and 6-8 inches long. The larger size will cover more of your sinus cavities; if you are considering using an eye pillow for sinus relief, make a larger pillow. If you want a pillow approximately 4×8, cut a remnant to 8×8, and fold over once, outside-in, so that when you stitch the seams, you can turn the fabric right-side-out again. Sew along one short side and the long side; now you have a long bag. Turn inside out to bring seams to the inside of the bag.
Now fill the bag loosely with flax seeds. You can purchase these online or in your local health food store. Flax seeds are the perfect ‘stuffing’ for your eye pillow because they are very smooth (no little bits to break off and seep through the fabric) and very small and lightweight.
They are disc-shaped and will all line up flat in a plane so that no pointy edges will poke you in the eye through the fabric. Don’t overstuff the fabric bag. About half full is just right. You will want the bag to be ‘baggy’ and loose – an overstuffed pillow won’t conform to the shape of your face and apply the overall light pressure that is so soothing.
Now you need to select the herbs you are going to include in your pillow. Since the herbal effect will be transmitted solely by its scent, select herbs with the effect you want and a pleasing scent. For relaxation, lavender, chamomile and passionflower are usual choices. If you are looking for sinus relief, eucalyptus and camphor are good, although some people don’t care for their medicinal scent.
If you want to use your eye pillow for a quick pick-me-up during the day, choose a stimulating herb such as lemongrass or peppermint. Of course, there’s no reason to stick to a single herb – mix lavender with lemongrass or peppermint for a pleasantly relaxing and stimulating session of shut-eye.
Whichever herbs you decide to use, put one-two tablespoons full into your open bag of flaxseed. Now you can either fold in the raw edges and sew the bag shut, or stitch on a pair of Velcro fasteners to allow you to re-open the bag easily and change its contents.
Shake the bag a few times to distribute the herbs throughout the flax seeds and release the scent. You may wish to store your eye pillow in a Ziploc bag to keep the herbs fresh. Rubbing the pillow between your hands a few times will crush a few of the herbs and reinvigorate the scent.
Some eye pillows are sold with an elastic band to hold it in place on your face, but this is not recommended. It is the weigh of the pillow that provides the relaxation; the pull of an elastic band is uncomfortable and difficult to ignore when trying to relax.
Now you’re ready to lie back and relax. Put on a CD of nature sounds or gentle music, place the eye pillow over your eyes, and let yourself drift into complete relaxation. Some people use their eye pillows at night to ensure a night of deep sleep. Even a few minutes taken in the middle of a busy day will leave you feeling surprisingly refreshed.Now you’re