Yoga has been extremely beneficial in all fields since ancient times and has its roots in India. It has been a treasure that has been passed on to our generation. Today, it is widely known for its benefits and is accepted by major part of the world. Especially in America, you will find yoga classes and workshops held almost everywhere. Amongst its multiple benefits, one of them is improving concentration.
Yoga Exercises for Concentration
Though yoga is popularly known for its significant role in treating medical conditions and helping people to keep good physical health, it also has the power to improve a person's mental focus and concentration. Following are some exercises that will definitely develop and improve your concentration level if you perform them correctly.
Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand Pose)
It is the head of all the yoga asanas. It covers almost all benefits achieved from other asanas. In sarvangasana, you lie down straight and lift your lower body upwards and balance the entire body on your shoulders. As a beginner, remain in this pose for 30 seconds and slowly add 5-10 seconds to your stay until you reach 5 minutes. While coming down, remember to exhale when bending your knees, roll your torso carefully onto the floor. This asana increases the blood flow in the brain which makes blood cells in the brain more active. This helps the mind to concentrate more and work more efficiently. Even eyes and mind focus on balancing of the body, which improves the level of concentration.
Pranayama (Breathing Exercises)
Pranayama is a 'sanskrit' word for yoga breathing exercises for concentration. It is the method of breath (prana) control. A regular deep breath can relax and calm your body, whereas an irregular breath can make you restless and uneasy. While doing pranayama, the mind focuses on the breath during inhalation and exhalation. This increases awareness about improving the level of concentration. It can be done while doing other asanas or even in a normal sitting position. There are various types of breathing exercises but, we will look at the two that help in improving and also developing your power of concentration.
Sama Vritti Pranayama: It means equal breathing through both the nostrils. You take a deep breath and lock it for sometime and then release. While doing it, you train your mind to concentrate on controlling the breath which increases the mind's capacity to contemplate on a single thought at a time. It helps in relaxing the body and focusing on the mind.
Nadi Shodhana: It is nothing but alternate nostril breathing. You have to sit cross-legged with your back straight. Bring your right hand in front of your face and fold the pointer, middle and little finger. Take a deep breath and close your right nostril with the thumb to lock the breath. Now, release the breath from your left nostril. Again take a deep breath through your left nostril and close it with the ring finger and release the breath through the right nostril. Repeat this exercise a couple of times. It calms the body and increases concentration level of the mind.
Trataka is also one of the best yoga exercises that involve meditation techniques to develop concentration level. What you have to do is light a candle and sit in front of it. Close your eyes and meditate while chanting a mantra or just say Om (Ooo uuuu mmmm...) repeatedly. The positive vibrations created in the atmosphere are very helpful to balance your physical as well as mental state. When you are done with meditation, open your eyes and focus on the candle flame. While looking at the flame, try to concentrate on a single thought. It can be difficult initially, but you can get a hang of it with regular practice.
Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation)
It is the most common yoga technique beneficial for physical or mental problem. Even doctors recommend it as an additional treatment option for various physical and mental conditions. If you perform a specific number of surya namaskars everyday, it can increase your resistance power. When you perform surya namaskar, your body gets relaxed and your mind is relieved from all tensions and frustrations which helps you better your concentration level. How is it performed? Surya namaskar is the combination of twelve yoga poses done in a sequence. Every pose has its own mantra and all the twelve poses and mantras are celebrations of divinity of the sun.
Vrikshasana (Tree Stand Pose)
To improve concentration and memory, this asana is extremely effective. Fold your right knee such that the soul of the foot (right) touches the inner side of the left thigh and balance yourself. Exhale once and while inhaling, take your arms in the upward direction and join them. Now, you can exhale the first inhalation. Fix your point of focus in front and try to concentrate on it. If you are comfortable in the position, take the next inhalation and hold the breath for about 20 to 30 seconds. Make sure that you do not lose your focus from the point. While exhaling, bring your hands and the right leg down and release the asana. Repeat this asana three to four times, changing the side.
In this asana, you put your body in the pose of a bow. Lie on your stomach. Make a pillow of your hands and rest one of your cheeks on the hands. Keep the toes on each other. Now, remove the hands from underneath your cheeks and rest your chin on the floor. Fold your legs and try to hold your ankles with your hands. While inhaling, raise your body as much as you can. The chest portion and knees should be prominently lifted so the weight falls on the abdomen. Try to be in the position for at least 20 to 30 seconds. Do not hold your breath in the bow position. Now, exhaling slowly, release the hands and bring the legs back to the floor and relax. It helps in improving concentration.
Ushtra means camel. This exercise is also one of the balancing exercises. Balancing helps in improving concentration. But how is this asana performed? You begin by sitting on your knees with the calves of the legs flat on the floor. Hold your right ankle with your right hand and the left ankle with the left hand and stretch as much as you can. Control the breath while stretching. Now releasing the breath slowly, come back to the initial position. The duration of the asana will depend on your breath controlling capacity or it can also be done for 30 to 40 seconds if you are not holding your breath.
Lack of concentration is a common problem in children these days as they are engaged in various activities. Parents force them to learn different skills as they want their kids to be all-rounders. This puts them under pressure and disables them to concentrate on one particular activity. The mind is distracted by the thoughts of other activities or simply by the thought of finishing it off as the activity is out of force and not to one's liking. Surya namaskar is the best exercise that children can perform to cope with the problem of concentration. Other exercises like pranayama and shoulder stand are also applicable but, under proper guidance and supervision.