Yoga Benefits: Concentration and Focus

Many of us arrive on our mats for many reasons: tightness in a particular muscles group, heartache, all that surrounds us, and oftentimes a sense of restlessness and groundlessness. These feelings connect many yogis, and often draw us to an organized practice. For this, and so many other reasons 🙂 researches have been drawn to look at how yoga helps us with these feelings of a wandering mind… was Pantanjali right?

A Wayne State University study (and many, many others) tackled just this question, asking participants to engage in Hatha Yoga for 20 minutes a day. As we know, yoga comprises of many forms, asana practice, meditation, breathwork. Compared with participants who completed 20 minutes of aerobic exercise (jogging, biking, walking) those who participated in yoga were able to focus and concentrate on a number of academic tasks.

As we often reflect on in a mindfulness based practice, bringing your awareness back to the practice; where you are and how you are feeling, is a deep engagement in focus in concentration. In honing these skills we are training the mind to limit distraction.

Not only do these tools offer us this beautiful space on our mats. Perhaps our savasana spaces grow deeper, or we are more readily able to drop into them over time, but we are able to translate this level of concentration to other points of our lives. Perhaps with our families or a meeting, we sit and do a few deep breath to focus our emotions and our mind, or we do a few shoulder rolls to focus our bodies on releasing tension and being open.

As we move through the second half of this month focus on how yoga translates to you off the mat. Can we invite it into more spaces in our lives? While we are sitting in traffic? Can those 20 minutes a day referenced in the Wayne State Study help us with our mental recall and capabilities as a partner, or parent, or co-worker, whatever we may wish to apply it to?

Where would you like to draw your concentration of your practice this month?