All of us at one time or another have difficulty remembering names, dates, events, or even the spot where some important documents are. Forgetting and then remembering again is essential to keep the brain active and robust. Keeping the brain sharp is as necessary as keeping the body fit. It should be remembered that exercising is not always about strenuous activities for muscle building. Rather, we must indulge in some workouts for the mind as well. Here are certain forms of yoga for memory that can boost cognitive health and overall memory function.
Understanding Yoga for Memory Power
Studies have shown that practising yoga regularly benefits the key areas of the brain that are responsible for mood enhancement, retention, and processing of information. Yoga helps in reducing anxiety and stress and helps in building a positive frame of mind. Regulation of mood is one aspect that is very important for brain health and that can be derived from Yoga.
Asanas in Yoga for Brain Power
It is believed that brain games can keep the mind sharp. But nothing can be more beneficial than regular exercise. To keep physically fit, we engage in strenuous physical activities like gymming but we completely ignore brain health.
Yoga for memory is equally important as gymming for physical fitness. The following are some of the best asanas that help in boosting brain health:
1. Tadasana (Mountain Pose)
This asana helps in strengthening the back and improving body posture. With better mental awareness, you will feel calm, alert, and controlled. Tadasana helps open up the lungs and facilitates improved breathing. It helps in overcoming depression and strengthens the nervous system. You will be able to focus on areas of priority and will also have a better memory.
- Stand with your feet slightly apart.
- Keep your hands alongside your body.
- Inhale and lift your arms above your head. Stretch as much as possible and then interlock your fingers.
- Raise your heels and stand on your toes.
- Feel the stretch throughout your body.
- With the body weight on the toes, stretch your shoulders, arms, and chest up.
- Stay in the position for some time.
- Exhale and come back to the standing position.
2. Nadishodhan Pranayam (Alternate Nostril Breathing)
Nadishodhan Pranayam connects you to your breath. Oxygen is highly essential for optimum cognitive performance. Nadishodhan Pranayam fills your body with oxygen. It detoxifies your body, calms the nervous system, relieves stress and anxiety, promotes mental clarity, and keeps your mind alert.
- Sit on a mat with your spine straight. You can also sit on a chair. But remember to keep the spine straight.
- Keep the tip of your index finger and middle finger of your right hand in between the eyebrows.
- Use the ring finger and the pinky finger to close the left nostril and the thumb to close the right nostril.
- Place your left hand on your left knee with palms facing up or in chin mudra i.e, bringing the thumb and the index finger together.
- The ring finger and the pinky finger of the right hand will be used to open and close the left nostril and the thumb will be used to open and close the right nostril.
- Close the right nostril and gently exhale through the left nostril. Inhale through the left nostril. Close the left nostril with the ring finger and pinky finger and exhale through the right nostril.
- Inhale through the right nostril, close the right nostril with the thumb and exhale through the left nostril. This completes one cycle of nadi shodhan pranayam.
- Continue inhaling and exhaling from alternate nostrils to complete the cycle several times.
- Remember to breathe in from the same nostril through which you exhaled after every exhalation. Repeat the cycle a minimum of 9 times.
- Perform the asana with your eyes closed.
3. Padangusthasana (Big Toe Pose)
Padangusthasana relaxes the mind and body. It opens the Ajna Chakra i.e., the third eye. Ajna Chakra is related to the mind and perception. It also opens up the Svadhishthana Chakra i.e, the spleen and sacral. Svadhishthana Chakra is related to the subconscious mind and emotions. Practice this asana regularly to drive away negative thoughts and emotions.
- Stand straight. Keep your feet apart at a distance of 6 inches.
- Keep your hands alongside your body.
- Inhale and stretch your arms above your head. While exhaling, bring your torso down towards your feet.
- Try to hold your toes with your fingers.
- Hold the position for a minimum of 60 seconds.
- Inhale and come up slowly. Do not bend your elbows. Ensure to keep your legs straight.
- Exhale and once again bend down to touch your toes.
- Repeat this asana 6 to 7 times for greater benefit.
4. Sirsasana (Headstand)
Sirsasana is an inverted pose and this yoga for memory pose highly benefits cognitive health. The improved blood flows to the pineal and hypothalamus glands of your brain. As a part of Yoga for memory power, this asana boosts the supply of natural nutrients to your brain and enhances its functioning.
- Double fold your yoga mat. Keep the folded mat close to the wall.
- Kneel and sit on your legs. Your buttocks should rest on your legs. (Sit as you sit in Vajrasana Pose)
- Widen your knees a bit and keep your elbows firmly on the mat. The elbows should be parallel to your shoulders and the arms should be extended.
- Interlock your fingers. Keep the crown of your head on the mat by supporting it with your interlocked fingers.
- Engage your core to balance and lift your legs in the air.
- If you cannot lift both the legs together, try lifting one leg and then the other. You can gradually lift both the legs by taking the wall support.
5. Matsyasana (Fish Pose)
Practising this form of Yoga for memory will relieve you of tension, keep your mind calm, help you overcome respiratory disorders, improve digestion, and relieve menstrual cramps.
- Lie on your back with your feet together. Relax your hands and bring them alongside your body.
- Bring the elbows closer to your body and place the hands below the hips.
- While inhaling, bring your chest and head up.
- Hold the chest up and take your head backwards. The top of the head should touch the floor.
- The weight of the body should be on the elbow and not on the head. Keep the elbows firmly pressed to the floor.
- Press the thighs and legs to the floor, keeping the chest up throughout.
- Stay in this position for as long as you can.
- To release from the position, lift the head up, lower the chest and head to the floor, bring the hands back to the sides of your body, and relax.
6. Bhramari Pranayam (Bee Breathing)
With a lot of confusion around in our day-to-day life, it becomes difficult to concentrate and retain information. There must be a lot running in the mind and it will become chaotic. The vibrations from the bee humming sound will shun the thoughts and bring calmness to your mind. This asana is very therapeutic and helps relieve stress and fatigue. You will feel the difference in the state of your mind with the daily practice of this asana.
- Sit comfortably, keeping your spine straight.
- Close your eyes. Close your ears with your index fingers.
- Now inhale deeply and make a humming sound.
- Humming sound at a higher pitch will be more beneficial.
- Repeat 3 to 4 times.
7. Virasana (Hero Pose)
Virasana helps in relaxing the legs, mind, and body. It boosts digestion, improves memory and helps reducing the symptoms of menopause.
- Kneel with your hips over your knees.
- The top of your feet should lie flat on the mat.
- Keep your knees together. Spread your feet apart up to 18 inches.
- Exhale and sit on your buttocks. The buttocks should be placed between your feet.
- Ensure that the knees are together while the feet are apart.
- Your feet should point straight back – they should neither be inward nor outward.
- Keep your hand on your thighs.
- Sit straight with your chest wide open. Take deep breaths.
- Hold the position for some time.
Focus and concentration are the keys to grasping and retaining information. With a lot of distraction around, it will be difficult to shut off the mind. Students, especially, need to retain the new information they get every day. The forms of Yoga for memory listed above will be very beneficial in improving cognitive performance if practised regularly.