For some people, maintaining concentration and focus is not difficult mainly because their work makes it a necessity. But for many others, it may seem like an unbearable and impossible task to achieve. Ancient yogis have taught yoga as a means of enhancing focus and becoming one with the universe and with oneself – something that seems so elusive in this modern day and age.
Understanding Brain Function
What is the basis for this general lack of focus? Different factors come into play here such as the compulsion to multi-task, family and work demands, cultural pressures and so much more. Unlike other exercises, yoga doesn’t only work out the body but also strengthens the mind. Its meditative quality is designed to enhance the level of focus and concentration, which can strengthen and develop with every session.
The human brain basically functions at 4 brainwave levels for every second of activity, as detailed below:
- Beta: Alert, fully active
- Alpha: Dreamy state, thoughtful and creative level
- Theta: Deep sleep, no constructive activity
- Delta: Very little activity, unconscious sleep
How Yoga Enhances Focus
When performing yoga, the brain’s activity decreases from Beta to Alpha, as you are required to focus on your breathing and poses. When in an Alpha state, the mind becomes calm and concentrative allowing the body to react and execute different poses more efficiently. Yoga sessions are designed not only to stretch and strengthen the physical muscles but also for calming the chaos within the mind and maintaining focus and balance.
Focus is following a narrow thought pattern, concentrating on just one thing. Fortifying this ability can help you nurture that creative experience as well as enhance flexibility. Through attaining better focus, you will be better equipped to take notice of details and variables that help you brainstorm and make more intelligent decisions as well as absorb new information.
Recommended Yoga Poses For Enhanced Focus
We belong in a society with short attention span. With so many distractions and disruptions, our ability to concentrate is constantly under attack. Here are some yoga poses you can perform to boost your ability to focus:
This is basically just a very simple breathing exercise, which presents a wonderful way to start your practice. To perform, sit cross-legged with your hands following a prayer position. Quiet your mind by erasing all thoughts and solely focusing on your breathing. Make sure to keep your spine straight.
Alternate Nostril Breathing
Another effective method of improving focus is performing the alternate nostril breathing. Like the first exercise, start by sitting cross-legged. Raise your right hand towards your face, with the palm facing you. Use your thumb to close your right nostril and take a deep breath using your left nostril. Hold that breathe before releasing it using your right nostril. Use the ring finger to close the left nostril as you slowly exhale. Perform this same procedure with the other nostril. Performing this can help you clear up your mind from distraction.
This is a balance pose that can help boost your concentration. You can perform the tree stand in different ways, but to start, simply stand up straight with your feet about hip distance apart. Then slowly bend your right knee and use both hands to hold your right knee. Concentrate on gaining balance while standing on one foot, and then slowly move your hands from the right knee to the right foot, placing it on top of the left thigh. As you gain stability, move your hands into prayer position and breathe deeply for about 30 seconds. Perform the same procedure with your left foot.
You can perform these yoga poses anytime and not simply during yoga sessions. This is especially helpful if you are feeling overwhelmed, stressed or you have too much on your mind that you have trouble staying focused.
Guest Post by:
Mahindra Raj, Owner and yogi at Serenity Yoga Retreats Studio in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Mahindra has a lot of great advice for people who are starting out on yoga or looking to start with yoga, for beginner’s yoga classes and tips head on over at http://www.serenityyogaretreats.com