Yoga. It’s clearly for people with more time on their hands than you, right? Who has time for a Sun Salutation or a Downward Dog, when you have homework, tutoring, work, a social life, and class?
You. YOU have time for yoga.
Yoga has been shown, through extensive clinical research, to help with stress management, anxiety, and (importantly for students) focus! We could all use some help focusing. If something can help cut down on mental distractions and sharpen your ability to pay attention, while (legally, holistically) helping you feel better, how can you NOT take advantage of it?
This ancient art has been seen as rather “loosy goosy”, with few real, quantitative benefits. Well, for the naysayers in the crowd, I present the extensive, peer-reviewed research on the benefits of yoga.
For example, Sheela et al. conducted a study specifically on college students, to examine the effect that yoga could have on their “sustained attention”. They discovered that yoga had a significant positive impact on the students’ sustained attention, which meant that they could focus harder for longer periods of time. Pretty rad, right?
In addition to the improvement of focus, yoga can also positively affect memory retention. According to Subramanya and Telles, yoga positively impacted their subjects’ ability to perform well on various memory tests. They said that a type of yoga called cyclic meditation was particularly effective. Cyclic meditation combines periods of poses and resting, and proved to increase performance on various memory tests by at least 20%, compared with initial performance on the tests (Telles and Subramanya).
Y’all. This is real. Whether it is the physical engagement or the mindfulness, yoga helps attention span and memory. We need all the help we can get in managing our hectic lives, and these effects can take place with surprisingly little effort on the part of the aspiring yogi.
There is an extremely simple move, essentially mindful breathing, that Telles et al. has shown to increase mental performance. You simply breathe in and out through your right nostril for about a minute, then left nostril, then alternate nostrils. LITERALLY the easiest thing, yet they showed that it stimulated the “contralateral hemisphere” of the brain, and improved the subjects’ performance on mental tests (Telles et al.).
Interested in moving beyond breathing? Here are some ways to get started, you blossoming yogi.
A very useful article detailing some moves tailored to promoting focus:
I sincerely hope that you discover the benefits that can come with this ancient practice, and that your daily life is improved!
Sheela, Nagendra, H. R. R., & Ganpat, T. S. (2013). Efficacy of Yoga for sustained attention in university students. Ayu, 34(3), 270–272. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3902592/
Subramanya, P., & Telles, S. (2009). Effect of two yoga-based relaxation techniques on memory scores and state anxiety. Biopsychosocial Medicine, 3, 8.
Telles, S., Raghuraj, P., Maharana. S., & Nagendra, H. R. (2007). Immediate Effect of Three Yoga Breathing Techniques on Performance on a Letter-Cancellation Test. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 104, 1289-1296.