Yoga means “yoke.” We practice yoga to connect with our higher selves. One benefit of this is that our yoga practice can help us function better on a daily basis. For example, we can practice yoga to improve memory and concentration. Being more alert in turn helps us us to look inward as well as expand outward and move toward union with our true selves.
It’s no secret that yoga helps cultivate the ability to focus and concentrate. The practice offers tools that help us be in the present moment more often. We can use yoga to improve memory and concentration when we practice being present.
Every movement on the mat is an opportunity to be present. We can move with intention and awareness. Meditation is another wonderful tool for improving memory and concentration. In fact, strengthening the ability to concentrate is one of the eight limbs of yoga. The sixth limb — dharana — is one-pointed focus.
A nice side effect of learning to focus is a better memory. In truth, the things you forgot were never lost. If you learn to put your mind on the area in the brain where your memory is stored, you can retrieve the information you need.
Benefits of Practicing Yoga to Improve Memory and Concentration
You will learn to be present.
Whenever you’re in a pose, notice everything you can. Some poses — like balancing poses and warrior poses — require a steady gaze or focus. Many times, we want to run from these poses, or we can’t wait for them to end. You may think to yourself, “How long do we have to stay in the pose?” Acknowledge those thoughts, and stay with the pose! The more you practice being present in each pose, the more able you will be to stay focused in everyday life as well.
Your mind will become more still.
Yogis call the chatter in our heads “monkey mind.” Most of it distracts us, which makes it very difficult to concentrate or remember things when we need to. Meditation practices like one-pointed focus, mantra meditation, and mindfulness help calm the mind so we can be more present and attentive. The chatter may not go away, but you will learn to let it be and sort through the clutter, so you can be where you need to be mentally.
You’ll find your “dristi.”
Dristi means point of focus. In yoga, we choose this point consciously. When you’re in a challenging pose, you may choose a spot to focus on visually. You can find your dristi off the mat as well whenever you need to concentrate on something. For example, boring tasks may become easier to stick with, and complicated activities may seem simpler because of the ability to concentrate on a point of focus. This can be a physical point, something you’re listening to that you’ll need to remember, or an action required to complete a task.
Your brain chemistry will change.
Studies show that a regular yoga practice boosts endorphins and serotonin levels in the brain. These natural chemicals can help clear the cobwebs and give you more energy to concentrate on tasks and remember things.
If you experience yourself as forgetful or easily distracted, consider beginning or recommitting to a regular yoga practice that includes meditation. Stick with it, and I promise that the things that distract and block you will begin to dissolve!