Yoga for Concentration and Memory
Do you sometimes start looking for something and then forget what it is you wanted to find? Do you find yourself beginning a task only to find your brain meandering off away from the chore at hand? Gentle yoga can help you re-train your brain to focus and concentrate.
Here are a few tips when it comes to yoga for concentration and memory.
Focus on Your Breathing
When you find yourself losing focus, bring your attention to the process of inhalation and exhalation. Before starting to change anything, simply observe your breathing. What does the rhythm of your breath sound like right now? Are the inhalation and exhalation even? Does your breath feel rushed? Do you sense yourself rushing your exhalation to get to the next inhalation? Or do you find yourself wearily sighing out every exhalation?
To move your breath to a more focused, yogic rhythm, begin by evening out the inhalations with the exhalations. Accomplish this by lengthening the shorter of the two rather than curtailing the longer one.
Become fully aware of your breathing process as a means to bring oxygen to every cell in your body. If you want to, you can use visualization to achieve this. Think of what quality you need more of right now in order to focus. Do you feel too nervous to focus and need more relaxation? Or do you feel too tired or depressed to concentration and seek more energy or a sense of contentment?
Think of that quality you desire as a color. Then picture every inhalation as a process of slowly coloring your body with peace, energy, or whatever quality you want to bring into yourself. Imagine each exhalation as an opportunity to thoroughly cleanse yourself of whatever within you resists that quality.
Yoga positions help us make the process of yoga breathing more active. The best yoga teacher is your own breath. If you like, try experimenting with standing in different ways until you find a standing posture which supports full, deep breathing.
For most of us, this way of standing will be very different than the way we tend to stand in everyday life. Most of us have unconsciously developed bad postural habits such as slouching, slumping or locking our knees while standing.
These habits all offer the short-term benefit of permitting us to disengage certain muscles. But the long-term cost is that these bad habits curtail our ability to breathe fully, and by doing that, they disrupt the connection between our bodies and our minds. Lack of focus and concentration is one of the consequences of these poor postural habits.
After you have developed an awareness of yoga breathing, let this style of breathing support and energize you in some yoga standing positions.
Position your feet beneath your hip bones with your toes pointing straight ahead. Briefly flex all ten toes off the floor to re-awaken the arches of your feet. Then set the toes back down on the floor, trying to open them slightly away from each other. Keep your knees soft, neither locking the knee joint nor bending it deeply.
If you abdominal muscles feel slack and asleep, you may have unconsciously permitted your shoulders to slump forward. Re-position shoulders above hips, using abdominal strength rather than tensing the shoulders to achieve this.
On the other hand, if your butt muscles feel clenched, you may be pushing your pelvis ahead of your hips. Using the muscles between your navel and your groin, pull your pelvis back beneath your shoulders.
Begin in mountain pose, standing with your right hip about four inches away from the back of a chair. Rest your right hand lightly on the chair. Gaze at something in front of you that is likely to remain stationary. Lift the heel of your left foot, coming onto the tips of your toes on that foot only. The right foot will remain flat on the floor, toes pointing forward.
Turn your left knee outward from the hip socket, still with the toes of the left foot resting lightly on the floor. Slowly use the muscles of your lower abdominal region as well as your left upper thigh to begin lifting the left foot off the floor.
To avoid swaying your weight outward to the right side as the left foot lifts, grip your right inner thigh muscles inward and keep the ball of the right toe firmly planted on the floor. Continue looking straight ahead, using your gaze to help stabilize you. Rest the left foot lightly on the right leg, either the calf or thigh muscle but not the knee joint.
See if you can hold this yoga balance pose for three or more breaths before slowly lowering the left foot and then repeating to the opposite side. Remember to maintain your yoga breathing throughout the pose.
Next time you have difficulty focusing, try practicing first yoga breathing, then move into mountain pose and from there shift into tree pose. Then use the concentration you gain from this challenge Tree Pose provides to your sense of balance in order to tackle the next item on your list of chores for the day.
Have your say! Do you think that yoga for concentration might be helpful? What do you think of gentle yoga as a method for improving the ability to focus? Add your thoughts in the comments section below.