How To Improve Concentration With Yoga And Pranayama
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)
- 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.
- 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)
- 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.
- Avoid practicing this pose if you have suffered any recent knee or elbow injury.
3. Tree Pose (Vrikshasana)
- 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.
- Avoid doing this posture if you are suffering from a migraine, insomnia, or low or high blood pressure.
4. Shoulder Stand (Sarvangasana)
- 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.
- 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)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Your Doubts Answered
1. What Should Our Mind Focus On While Doing Yoga?
To answer this properly, we need to review what Yoga actually is. Yoga means ‘union’. It refers to the union of the individual soul and the supreme soul, Jiivatman and Paramatman. This divine union is often referred to as Self-Realization or enlightenment. So that is the goal of yoga, and the way to that goal is laid out in the eight limbs of Yoga or Astaunga Yoga. The popular yoga postures, or asanas, are just one of these eight limbs. One of the other limbs, Yama, includes a practice called Brahmacarya. And in this practice of Brahmacarya we find a beautiful answer to the above question. Brahmacarya is commonly misinterpreted to mean celibacy. But what it actually means is the practice of seeing Brahma, or God, in everything. According to Yoga philosophy, all of reality is a manifestation of cosmic consciousness or Brahma. What we think of as matter, the realm of tables and people and stars and quarks, is all made real through the power of the Cosmic Mind. When the Bible describes God as ‘omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient, meaning all-powerful, all-present and all-knowing, it is talking about the same idea. And it is also remarkably like the world view of many physicists, particularly those who first developed quantum theory, such as Heisenberg, Bohm et al. “The universe begins to look more like a great thought than a great machine.” – Astronomer James Jean. So Brahmacarya means to see everything as a manifestation of cosmic consciousness. It is the complimentary practice to the seventh limb of Yoga, Dhyana, or spiritual meditation. In Dhyana, we seek to realize that we are Brahma. In Brahmacarya we seek to realize that everything else is also Brahma. So that is what a real yogi is supposed to focus on, not just whilst performing Yoga postures, but all the time! Here is a special mantra you can use to help you focus on this idea. Baba Nam Kevalam literally means, ‘only the name of the beloved’. But what it is referring to is this same idea, that everything is a manifestation of Cosmic Consciousness. All is One. Repeat this during your Yoga practice and try to see that everything is Brahma, that everything is a manifestation of divine thought. You can also listen to music with the Baba Nam Kevalam mantra. If you search for Baba Nam Kevalam on Youtube you will get thousands of musical options. Pick a favorite and listen to it during your yoga practice.
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.|
Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.