Yoga, the ancient Indian art form is a great way to improve concentration, especially for those who are preparing for competitive exams. Practicing yoga quiets your mind and keeps distracting thoughts at bay.
Patanjali, the sage who compiled Yoga Sutras said, ‘yoga chitta vritti nirodha’, which means yoga reduces the fluctuations of our mind. It flushes out the emotional clutter in our head and helps us concentrate better.
This logic is supported by a research study conducted at the University of Illinois, where a group of people was made to practice yoga on a daily basis for 20 minutes. The results of the study showed improvement in the brain function.
On the occasion of the fourth International Yoga Day, which is being celebrated globally on 21 June 2018, we bring you some yoga poses that will not only sharpen your mind but also increase your concentration power.
1. Vrikshasana: The Tree Pose
The asana also referred to as the ‘Tree Pose’, exudes the grace, stability and humility of a healthy tree. Practising the pose daily helps improve balance and stability in your legs and also helps boost up self-confidence and self-esteem. Not only does it stretch the entire body and increase your stamina but it also helps calm your nervous system, treats numbness and helps you in dealing with all the life’s issues with a composed demeanour.
How to do it?
Start with standing up straight. Slowly shift your weight on to your left leg and once you have your balance grab a hold of your right foot, bend the knee and slowly place the foot on your left thigh with toes pointed towards the floor. Then, raise your hands straight above your head and join them in a Namaskar position. Hold the position for at least 30-60 seconds and inhale and exhale. Then repeat the same with the other leg.
Tip: Unlike other asanas, Vrikshasana requires you to keep your eyes open to maintain balance. The pose is most effective when done early in the morning on an empty stomach.
2. Natarajasana: The Dancer Pose
The pose is named after Nataraja, the dancing avatar of Lord Shiva. The pose is graceful yet a challenging one and takes time to perfect but it will help you reduce weight and improve digestion and metabolism. It will also help strengthen your thighs, ankles and chest and improve body flexibility. The pose also firms up your muscles, makes you strong and clears your head of depression and stress. It also enhances blood circulation and endurance.
How to do it?
Start with standing up straight and tall. Then bend your right leg at the knee and grab the ankle with your right hand. Raise your left hand straight up till its parallel to the ground and slowly start to tilt forward. Then push your right leg as high up as it will go, maintaining the hold on your ankle. Hold the pose for at least 15-30 seconds and then repeat the same with the other leg.
Tip: The pose also works best when practiced at the crack of dawn on an empty stomach.
3. Paschimottanasana: Seated Forward Bend
The pose is an easy forward bend that focuses on the back of your body. The asana is a stress reliever, it reduces anger, irritability and helps calm your mind and concentrate better. It also stimulates your intestines and gall bladder, reduces constipation and cures stomach pain, headache and piles. It also strengthens your hip bones, stretches your shoulders, activate your spinal nerves and energise your body. The pose increases your appetite and reduces obesity.
How to do it?
To do this simple posture, sit on the floor with your back straight and your feet straight out in front of you and toes pointed up. Then take a deep breath, lift your arms above your head, stretching your spine. Then while exhaling bend forward at your hips, reaching toward your feet and grab your leg wherever you can reach, be it knees, shins, ankles or feet. Then just relax and hold the position and slowly inhale and exhale up to at least 30-60 seconds.
Tip: Practice the asana on an empty stomach or in the evenings after a gap of four to six hours from your last meal. Digested food releases energy, which can be used to practice the pose.
4. Virabhadrasana 2: Warrior 2
The pose allows you to embody all the qualities of a warrior, which are concentration, focus and courage. The pose will help you develop concentration, balance and humility. It will also help strengthen the legs, open the hips and chest and improve circulation, respiration and energize the entire body.
How to do it?
The posture requires your full body to be engaged and your gaze to be fixed in one place. Start with standing with your legs about 3-4 feet apart from each other. Then stretch your arms out away from you so that they are parallel to the floor with palms facing down. Turn your right foot so that it’s pointed towards the direction of your right hand and keep your left foot angled slightly inward. Then bend your right knee and shift it forward so it’s in line with the right ankle. Turn your head also to the right and focus on the middle finger on your right hand. Hold the pose and take five deep breaths and then repeat on the left side.
5. Bakasana: The Crane Pose
The asana is similar to the posture of a crane, which represents happiness and longevity in many cultures. The pose quite challenging to achieve helps increase your mental strength, concentration, endurance and strengthens your forearms. It also tones your abdominal muscles, enhances the flexibility of your spine, improves your mind-body coordination and removes tension and anxiety. It also increases body awareness, helps develop positive thinking and reduces acidity.
How to do it?
This is again a balancing posture but it requires the arms to do all the work. Start with spreading your feet hips wide apart in a squatting position. Then place your hands on the floor, about 1 foot in front of your feet, shoulder-width apart, with your fingers spread. Then bring your knees close to your armpits and ever slowly begin to shift your weight forward, lifting one foot off the ground and then the other. Breathe deeply, staying focused.
Tip: Practice the pose daily to perfect it. It works best when practised in the morning or in the evening after a gap of four to six hours from your last meal.
6. Yog Mudra: The Salutation Seal
The asana is the easiest and most convenient one to increase concentration. The pose will help rid your mind of worries, stress and improve your focus and help you channelize all the nervous and negative energy out of your system.
How to do it?
Just sit cross-legged and join your palms together. Keep your spine erect, close your eyes and take deep breaths. Just relax and focus your attention on inhaling and exhaling. Follow the same pattern for at least 15 minutes every day in regular intervals to enhance your focus and boost your brain.
Tip: Make sure that your eyes are soft and forehead is relaxed. Continue to hold the position for at least 2-5 minutes. S
7. Garudasana: The Eagle Pose
The asana is named after the Hindu god Garuda, who is known for his power, strength and focus. The pose helps strengthen the muscles of your legs, balances your body and helps especially in cultivating focus. It also corrects postural faults, increases the suppleness of your body, gets rid of urinal problems, prevents asthma and helps calm the mind.
How to do it?
To do the pose, stand with your feet together and hands on your hips and find a steady focal point in front of you. Then bend your knees slightly, lift your right leg, and wrap it around your left thigh. Try to hook your right foot behind your left calf. Then bring your hands straight out and cross them, left over the right and bend your elbows. Wrap your arms around each other and try to bring your palms together. Keep your back straight and eyes focused and let out slow deep breathes through the nose. Hold the pose for 10-30 seconds.
Tip: The asana works best when practised in the morning on an empty stomach.