Although yoga is a great exercise for the physical body, many people practice yoga for concentration and peace of mind. With a regular yoga practice, one learns how to slow down thoughts and quiet the mind. When the mind is calm, it is much easier to focus. This allows us to use our time more efficiently and more easily finish tasks and projects.
“Concentration is taking your mind off many things and putting it on one thing at a time.” – Ananda Sangha
Why We Need Yoga for Concentration
Today, many of us are easily distracted, and there is so much to distract us. We live in a fast paced world, jam-packed with over-stimulation, activity, information and multi-tasking. As a result, our bodies are permanently stuck in a state of hyperactivity. It may even seem that our brains have forgotten how to concentrate. Consequently, we have more stress and anxiety than ever before.
Doctors, and society in general, easily blame the lack of concentration, and the resulting anxiety and stress, on “chemical imbalances in the brain.” The solution is often to prescribe ADHD and ADD medicines to anyone frustrated with or challenged by poor concentration. But yoga is a simpler and less invasive solution that takes us towards a more focused mind and balanced lifestyle.
Yoga and the Power of Concentration
The power of concentration is within each and every one of us. In the yoga teachings of Patanjali,concentration – dharana – is one of the steps towards self-realization – samathi – a state of intense concentration achieved through meditation, at which union with the divine is reached. Through the practice of yoga, we learn how to slow our breath, calm the mind and body, which in turn fills us with the feeling of this possibility.
We can use our internal bodily functions to help calm the mind by focusing on the rhythms of the breath and the heart. To most of us, the breath rhythm is most accessible. To increase concentration, learn to observe the breath, how it moves in and out of the body, how the chest and stomach move, the sensations of the air as it moves in and out of the nostrils, and so forth. Once you’re able to do this, learn to breathe slowly and deliberately and start practicing various pranayama exercises. This type of yoga for concentration is all that’s needed to slow the rhythm of the heart and calm the body and the mind. Focusing on the breath rhythm with the intention of concentration is a powerful tool that can be used not only during yoga practice but also at any point of your day, even if only for 5 or 10 minutes each day.
You may argue that regulating only the breath won’t help all that much and that you also need a healthy lifestyle. Yes, you would, of course, be right. But the breath can be the first step; it’s easy, can be done anywhere and anytime. As you focus on your breath once a day, you will gain more interest in nurturing other habits that help cultivate better concentration, such as getting sufficient sleep, staying physically fit through some form of exercise, eating healthy, and meditating.
The Effects on Daily Life
Improving your concentration will help with what many might view as simple tasks, such as reading a book, but for some it will also help with so much more… improving their ability to handle difficult situations with other people, solving complex problems by creating innovative solutions, understanding and being open to listening to others’ point of view, and advancing the process toward self realization.
“People who know how to concentrate display a remarkable capacity to give to the universe.” – School of Metaphysics
Advanced Hatha Yoga: Classic Methods of Physical Education and Concentration, Shyam Sundar Goswami
A Child’s Way to Yoga, John Walter Thomas
The Yoga of Breath: A Step-by-Step Guide to Pranayama, Richard Rosen
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