Do you ever have days, weeks, or even months when it feels like you’re jumping between tasks, places, and people, trying not to max out your energy credit card (you know, that invisible thing with a very high interest rate?) There were a few days last week when I came home from work (to do work at home) and realized that I didn’t have my usual steady focus. Like my calendar that week, my mind was all over the place. It helped to lie down for a few minutes and not think too hard about any one thing. (Sometimes it’s good to let you mind wander for a bit!) But I knew I had to get my focus back at some point, so I turned to some of my favorite yoga poses for a scattered mind.
Although I can’t think of a yoga pose that wouldn’t improve focus and concentration, lateral bends, triangle pose, backbends, tree pose, and crane pose have been shown to improve symptoms of ADD/ADHD when practiced regularly as part of structured yoga routine. Although ADD/ADHD is a separate matter from merely feeling “scattered” in the middle of a busy day, it makes sense that poses requiring both balance and strength would help calm the mind while shutting out extraneous mental jibber-jabber. If you don’t focus, you fall. Even with poses that require more flexibility than balance like a backbend (depending on the individual, of course) improve circulation, which among more quantifiable results, simply helps us feel better. For me, feeling relaxed and not anxious is necessary for relieving a scattered mind.
Here are a few poses for improving focus. I recommend adding them to your morning routine or trying a few during the afternoon if you feel your concentration start to slip.
Balance on one leg, and place your free foot against your the inner thigh of your standing leg. Hold your hands at your chest or raise them above your head. Stay in stillness for a few breaths, and set a dedication for the rest of your day.
With your feet facing perpendicular directions, bend at your waist towards your front-facing foot. Place your hand (same as your front-facing leg) on the ground, your shin, or a block. Twist your torso towards the sky, and feel an opening in your chest as well as your hamstrings.
Twisting Peaceful Warrior
From crescent pose (or a simple standing lunge), lean back and twist your torso away from your back leg. Reach the opposite arm to your back leg for this variation on Peaceful Warrior. If possible, straighten both legs. Enjoy this heart and hip opener for a few breaths.
Lord of the Dance pose
From tadasana (mountain pose), pick up one foot and bring it to your seat. Balance on your standing leg and clasp your floating foot with your hand (same side). Press your foot against your hand to create a bow-like tautness. Lean forward and raise your other arm toward the sky. Feel yourself rising through your clasped leg and raised arm while you ground through your standing leg.
The following are my favorite backbends:
1. Here’s a fairly basic backbend. I like to stand on the balls of my feet and inch them closer to my hands to create a deeper stretch through my torso and hips.
2. For an even deeper opening, begin in a basic backbend (above), and carefully come to rest on your elbows. Straighten your legs as much as possible, so your general shape is “flatter,” and closer to the ground.
3. For this rejuvenating variation on backbends, begin on your knees. Walk your hands from your waist and down the backs of your thighs until your reach your ankles. Hold for a few breaths.
From Yogic Squat (i.e. squatting while holding your hands in prayer and pressing your elbows against your knees to open your hips), place your hands on the ground in front of you, and slowly shift your weight over your hands. Come to balance on your hands and perch your knees on the back of your upper arms. Straighten your arms to transition to from Crow to Crane Pose. Hold and breathe. To release, shift your weight backwards to land on the balls of your feet.
Does yoga help you regain your focus?
More yoga tutorials: 4 Easy Inversions for Instant Stress Relief
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Photos: Mary Hood Luttrell