Sufficient sleep, a clear mind and stress-levels kept to a minimum: all essential in order to concentrate while you’re studying. But being a student, lack of sleep and stress are always around the corner. Practicing yoga is the perfect companion.
Whether it’s for upcoming exams or studying in general, yoga is known to focus on areas that will help you study. Hop on your mat every now and then to increase your concentration and nail those exams.
In this article, we’ll help you align your asanas to become a grade-A student. The practice is centered around moving with your breath while focusing on the present moment. Let’s have a look at the main advantages you can use as a student by practicing yoga.
Slowing down your breath and linking it to certain poses and movement, helps you breath fully. A shallow breath is known to cause stress and cramping of the muscles. Slowing down your breath and focus on longer in- and exhales improves the quality of your breathing. In return, this will calm down your nervous system and eases the mind, so that it can focus on important things.
A sharp mind is incredibly important when you’re storing new information in your brain. Regular exercise and a calm mind are both key to boost your memory. Yoga on its own is of course a form of exercise. But if you struggle memorizing things, you may want to add visualizing meditations and chanting to your practice as well. Chanting increases your verbal abilities, and visualizing things helps sharpen your memorizing abilities.
If you have to study for a long period, it makes a difference how you’re able to concentrate when you’re hunched over your book, or when you’re sitting upright with relaxed shoulders. A lot of tension and stress is stored in your upper back area. Increased stress levels have a negative impact on your ability to focus. There are various yoga poses that are great posture improvers.
To start you off, here is a guide explaining a complete practice aiming mainly to improve beneficial aspects to a student. Of course, you may opt for different breathing exercises or any variation of a sun salutation.
1. Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskar)
Energize your body by practicing at least three rounds of Sun Salutations. These twelve postures increase blood circulation and influence the working of your organs. By aligning your breath you’ll calm down and warm-up your body at the same time. If you are not yet familiar with practicing Sun Salutations, we encourage you to do a little research and find a video to guide you through the sequence. This video walks you through a full Sun Salutation and shows you what not to do.
2. Humming Bee Breath (Bhramari Pranayama)
Named after a black Indian bee called Bhramani, this breathing technique will instantly calm your mind and get rid of any frustration or anxiety you may have about upcoming deadlines or exams. It is especially good to start your practice with, if you have to speak publicly. It’s a good warm-up for your voice, helps quieten fears, and gets your headspace into your upcoming practice.
Sit in an upright position, and place your index fingers on your ear’s tragus. Close your eyes and gently press down the tragus, as you would do when blocking out sound. Take a couple of breaths to settle in and focus your mind. When you’re ready, take an inhalation. Then, for the entire exhalation, make a medium-pitched humming sound. Focus on the vibration of your entire brain. Keep your face muscles and jaw relaxed and take six rounds of breaths while humming.
3. Focus Poses
There are various poses that are beneficiary when learning. Below poses all target specific areas of the body and mind, and can be practiced one by one.
Fish Pose (Matsyasana) to increase blood circulation to the head
Lie on your back with your knees bent. Lift your buttocks to place your hands underneath, and scoot your underarm and elbows close you your torso. Lift your upper body with an inhale by pressing onto your lower arms. Drop your head back to the floor by looking at the wall behind you. There should be a minimum amount of pressure on your neck and head, the strength is in your lower arms and shoulders. You can opt to straighten your legs, but make sure to keep your thighs active while doing so.
Shoulder Stand (Salamba Sarvangasana) to release stress from the neck and shoulder area
Put a folded blanket on your mat to support your shoulders. Lie down with your shoulders on the blanket, and bend your knees. Slowly lift your pelvis with an inhale and shimmy your shoulder blades underneath your upper back, coming into bridge pose. Straighten your arms with palms facing down below your back. Lift up one leg, and bend your elbows after to place your hands on your lower back, creating a shelf. Then lift up your other leg. Keep your gaze upward and your neck straight. Stack your feet over your hips and your hips over your shoulders. Stay for 10 breaths. To come out, slowly release your feet over your head and untuck your shoulders. Then roll down your spine slowly and gently to come back into lying down.
Sphinx Pose (Salamba Bhujangasana)
A wonderful pose to release any tension that has build-up in your upper back.
Lie down on your belly. Place your forearms on the ground and lift by arching your back. You want the muscles in both legs to stay active. Keep your gaze down slightly in front of you to fully lengthen your spine.
4. Balancing Pose
In order to balance, you have to focus and keep a steady mind. Practicing balancing poses is a great way to train your mind to stay concentrated while focusing on your breath.
Tree Pose (Vrksasana)
Stand upright with your feet together, and bring your hands together in front or your chest. Shift your weight onto your right foot, and lift your left foot by bending your left knee. Bring your knee up close to your chest and grab your foot. Place the sole of your left foot in your right thigh and press both firmly. Lift your hands back in front of your chest. Lift your arms up for an extra challenge, and if you’re really focused, close your eyes. Switch sides after six rounds of breaths.
5. Visual Meditation
Finish off your practice strong by opting for a visual meditation. Focusing on visualizing something helps boost your concentration. Choose something positive for an instant mood and energy booster. For example, try this 10-minute visualization meditation that focuses on a warm, sunny outdoor space.
With consistent practice, your concentration will become better, as well as your posture and your breathing techniques. If you’re pressed for time, even a few Sun Salutations and a short meditation can go a long way.
Let us know if you’re a student and are going to give yoga a try, or if you’re already using yoga to its advantage!