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How To Improve Concentration With Yoga And Pranayama

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If you're having trouble concentrating at school or work, Yoga can help. Bhramari Pranayama is a breathing exercise that can improve memory and concentration. It can also provide relief from tension and anxiety, both which affect concentration. Yogasanas can also help improve your mental control. Some of these include Vajrasana, Garudasana, Sarvangasana, Vrikshasana, and Halasana.

Have your grades been dropping at school because you’re unable to concentrate and focus on your subjects? Are you a working professional who’s unable to perform well at work because you’re distracted?

If the answer to both these questions is yes, then there’s a way to fix this. It is simple and you can do this at home. The solution is Yoga!

Yoga can help with your concentration. Concentration is mental control and to achieve mental control, you need to focus. It can help you focus on what you want despite other distractions. Yoga is a traditional practice that helps to keep a balance between your body and mind.

Try these Yoga asanas and breathing exercises to help you overcome these concentration issues.

Yoga Poses To Improve Concentration

1. Thunderbolt/Diamond Pose (Vajrasana)

Vajrasana Can Help Improve Your Concentration

Steps

  • Sit erect and fold both the legs, keeping your hips on the heels. The toes should point out behind you and the big toes should touch each other.
  • Sit on the pit formed by the parted heels.
  • Make sure your spine, neck, and head are all in a straight line. The palms should be placed on your thighs, facing up.
  • Hold the pose and take long, deep breaths.
  • Breathe out and relax.
  • Straighten the legs.

Precautions

  • This should not be practiced if you have pain in your feet, ankles, or knees.
  • Anyone suffering from slip disc problems should not practice this asana.
  • Those having a difficulty in movements should perform this with the help of a yoga instructor.

2. Eagle Pose (Garudasana)

Garudasana Can Help Improve Your Concentration

Steps

  • Stand straight on your yoga mat, keeping your feet together.
  • Bend your knees a little and lift your right leg.
  • Place it across the left thigh and hook your right feet behind the back of the left calf.
  • Stretch your hands in front of you, bend your elbows, and cross your arms in such a way that the left arm lies on the right one or vice versa.
  • Make sure you focus on one point in front of you.
  • Try to hold this pose for as long as you can, focusing all your attention on the point you chose to concentrate on. Inhale and exhale slowly while in this pose.
  • Slowly, release your hands and bring them to the sides of your body and come back to your initial position.

Precautions

  • Avoid practicing this pose if you have suffered any recent knee or elbow injury.

3. Tree Pose (Vrikshasana)

Vrikshasana Can Help Improve Your Concentration

Steps

  • Stand straight on your yoga mat with your hands by your side.
  • Bend your right knee and place it high on the left thigh. The sole of the foot should be placed flat on the thigh.
  • Make sure that your left leg is straight and find your balance.
  • When you are balanced, take deep breaths. While breathing in, gracefully raise your hands over your head and brings your palms together like you would do “namaste.”
  • Look straight and focus on a distant object. A steady focus will maintain a steady balance.
  • In this pose, continue taking in long, deep breaths. Relax the body as much as possible.
  • Slowly, with exhalation, bring down the hands and gently release the right leg.
  • You can repeat this pose with the left leg on the right thigh and the right foot placed firmly on the ground.

Precautions

  • Avoid doing this posture if you are suffering from a migraine, insomnia, or low or high blood pressure.

4. Shoulder Stand (Sarvangasana)

Sarvangasana Can Help Improve Your Concentration

Steps

  • Lie down on a mat. Place the hands beneath the hips with elbows close to the body.
  • As you exhale, bend the knees and lift the hips off the floor.
  • When you inhale, straighten the legs and place them straight up.
  • Hold this position with the support of both your hands. Placing the elbows close to each other will help protect your back and will provide more stability.
  • If the entire position is not possible, do as much as you can but make sure the position is stable.
  • Exhale and bend the knees toward your chest.
  • Next, inhale and with the help of your hands bring the hips down.
  • When you come down from the straight position, make sure you don’t come down with a jerk.

Precautions

  • Menstruating and pregnant women are advised not to perform this yoga asana.
  • It is important to consult a physician if you are suffering from high blood pressure, heart problems, glaucoma, slip disc, spondylosis, neck pain, and/or acute thyroid problems.

5. Plow Pose (Halasana)

Halasana Can Help Improve Your Concentration

Steps

  • Lie on your back with your arms beside you, palms downwards.
  • As you inhale, use your abdominal muscles to lift your feet off the floor, raising your legs vertically at a 90-degree angle.
  • Continue to breathe normally. Supporting your hips and back with your hands, lift them off the ground.
  • Allow your legs to sweep in an 180-degree angle over your head till your toes touch the floor. Your back should be perpendicular to the floor. This may be difficult initially, but make an attempt for a few seconds.
  • Hold this pose and let your body relax more and more with each steady breath.
  • After about a minute (a few seconds for beginners) of resting in this pose, you may gently bring your legs down on exhalation.

Precautions

  • If you are a beginner, this should not be performed without the help of an instructor.
  • If you have a neck injury, diarrhea, or high blood pressure, avoid this asana.
  • Women should avoid this asana during pregnancy and during the first two days of the menstrual cycle.

There are many more postures you can practice to improve your concentration. Try these for a few weeks and share the difference with your friends at school or colleagues at work.

Breathing Exercise To Improve Concentration

Breathing exercises aid in calming the mind and improve memory and concentration. They also help reduce anxiety. This, in turn, helps you to perform better at tasks related to memory and learning.1

One such exercise is the Bee Breath or Bhramari Pranayama. Let’s learn how to perform this exercise.

Bee Breath (Bhramari Pranayama)

This technique calms and soothes the nerves, especially around the brain and forehead. The exhalation in this pranayama resembles the typical humming sound of a bee. The humming sound vibrations have a calming effect on the mind and body.

Steps

  • Sit up straight in a calm place in your house or at work. Keep a gentle smile on your face
  • Close your eyes for a few minutes and observe the sensations in your body and focus on the quietness within.
  • There is a cartilage between your cheek and ears. Place your index fingers of both hands on the cartilage.
  • Take a deep breath in, and as you breathe out, press the cartilage with the index fingers.
  • Keep the fingers pressed while making a loud humming sound like a bee. You can also move the fingers in and out while doing this.
  • Breathe in again and continue the pattern three to four times.

Precautions

  • Ensure that the finger is placed on the cartilage and not in the ear.
  • Press the finger on the cartilage gently; do not put pressure on it.
  • While making the humming sound, make sure that your mouth is closed.

Benefits 

  • This exercise improves concentration and memory.
  • It provides relief from tension, anger, and anxiety. This particularly useful for those suffering from hypertension. It calms the mind.
  • This provides relief from headaches and reduces migraine aches.
  • It builds confidence.

Apart from these, you can also try Shitali and Kapalbhati Pranayama. Along with a healthy lifestyle, these exercises will slowly train your mind to focus on the task at hand and concentrate completely.

References   [ + ]

1. Joshi, Meesha, and Shirley Telles. “Short Communication Immediate Effects Of Right And Left Nostril Breathing On Verbal And Spatial Scores.” Indian J Physiol Pharmacol 52, no. 2 (2008): 197-200.