Yoga and Meditation for Improved Focus and Awareness

Author : Admin   |   Date: Sep 21, 2019
category : Yoga

Returning to school last year at the age of thirty-five, I had a little bit to learn about cultivating concentration. I completed my undergraduate studies thirteen years prior to entering graduate school, so needless to say, I was a little out of practice with memorizing facts and recalling information for tests. 

I had perfected the art of multi-tasking thanks to motherhood (laundry while doing dishes while cooking and monitoring kids), but sitting in one place for an extended period of time was not something I was used to. However, I am extremely strong-willed, and I knew I would succeed in graduate school, as long as I could adjust to the new demands. 

Now that I am well into my studies (as a straight-A student!) I can look back and see how some basic yogic practices have greatly supported me along the way. Here are some yoga asanas and a meditation technique I use to sharpen and improve my memory and concentration.


Flowing sequences are a great way to start a yoga practice when the goal is to calm the mind. When trying to bridge the world of busyness and a “go-go-go” pace with endeavors that require stillness and concentration, it can be challenging to just stop and sit.

Try to practice eight to ten rounds of your favorite flowing sequence, counting the number of rounds to help keep the mind focused. Sun or Moon Salutations are some of my favorites, but any sequence will work.

Long-held poses are like concentration for the whole body. I find it helpful to engage the entire body in the practice of stillness as a precursor to seated meditation work. This is a good second step after a flowing sequence, in a yoga practice aimed at improving concentration.

For these long-held poses, I like to choose poses that have a sturdy base of support, which can provide a sense of grounding and strength. Hold these poses for eight to ten breaths, if possible. I recommend Chair Pose (Utkatasana), Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II), and Humble Warrior (Virabhdrasana Variation).

Balancing poses take the concept of whole-body concentration deeper by challenging the mind and the body at a higher level. When we attempt to balance on a narrow base of support, the mind must become calm and focused in order to be successful.

I find that when practicing balancing poses, if I gaze at a drishti point (single focal point) and turn my energy inward, rather than looking around at what is happening outside of myself, I am significantly more successful. In fact, the main purpose of a drishti point is to bring deep concentration and focus to the mind.

Seated stretching poses are a wonderful way to end your yoga practice, just before Savasana (Corpse Pose). Most ideal are those poses that allow the head to drop, thus bringing the mind further inward. Use props if necessary to settle into a safe and comfortable position, and hold these poses for thirty seconds to two minutes. I love both Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana) and Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend (Upavista Konasana), Head to Knee (Janu Sirsasana), and Double Firelog (Agnistambhasana).

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