Focus is defined as to direct one’s attention or efforts. It also means to cause to converge on a perceived point, like a point at which things meet. So it is like a coming together.
In yoga we practice focus alot through both poses and breathing practices as we align the body and mind in a harmonious way.
How To Improve Your Focus
Achieving better focus or concentration is not really that difficult when one knows where to look for help.
Yoga and pranayama breathing are probably some of the oldest and time-tested methods that can take you closer to your goal.
Yoga can alleviate stress, soothe the nerves and calm the mind. It can also help to improve focus.
To build focus we pay attention. Attention is not just the ability to focus on a single task without being distracted, but in fact is comprised of several different elements that must be effectively managed.
Research has shown that individuals who can sustain their attention for long periods of time perform better on all sorts of cognitive challenges than those who cannot. A man with a scattered attention span will only be able to experience one plane of existence; he can skim across the surface of the world’s vast knowledge and wisdom, but is unable to dive deeper and discover the treasures below. The man with a good focus can do both.
We see that while everyone is looking for cool new “secrets” for how to build both their body and mind the truth is that strengthening our physical and mental muscles comes down to plain, good old fashioned work. Gaining strength in either area is ultimately about eating right, getting ample sleep, and engaging in challenging daily exercise.
How To Strengthen Focus
If you decide you want to get in better shape, but are starting at ground zero, the worst thing you can do is to throw yourself into an extreme training program. You might end up injured, discouraged, or both, and you very well could want to quit before you even really get started.
Also if your attention span is currently quite flabby, it’s best to slowly build up the weight you ask it to lift.
So start out with a pretty easy goal and work your way up from there.
Doing Physical Exercise
Not only can you compare exercising your mind to exercising your body, doing the latter actually directly benefits the former.
Researchers have found that students who engaged in moderate physical exercise before taking a test that measured attention spans performed better than students who didn’t exercise. The researchers found that exercise primarily helps our brain’s ability to ignore distractions.
Probably it is that the discipline it takes to push through the pain of a workout strengthens the same supply of willpower that we use to ignore the itch of distractions in order to keep working/focusing.
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What is Drishti?
Drishti is a Sanskrit word that has several levels of meaning. Most simply, it can be translated into English as ´the gaze´ or ‘focused gaze’ and is a means for developing concentrated intention.
In Asana (poses) practice, your Drishti is the place where your eyes rest – looking forward over your middle finger in Warrior II pose, for example, or to the navel in Downward Dog pose.
Also it relates to the fifth limb of yoga (pratyahara) concerning sense withdrawal, as well as the sixth limb (dharana) relating to concentration.
The Importance of Drishti
Drishti is a technique that is integrated into the teachings of many of the great yoga teachers. We see Drishti teaching with famous people like Sri K. Pattabhi Jois in his Ashtanga practice, but also by B.K.S. Iyengar, Desikachar and many others.
This idea of focused gaze within a yoga practice has deep and rich meaning.
Improved focus in yoga can help you whether you have been practicing for 25 years or if you have just taken your very first yoga class.
A Focus Building Workout
Here we have a little Focus Building Workout that you can do whether at work or at home.
Try to set a timer for 5 minutes and focus completely on your work/reading for that time period. This is not too strenuous and is good for starters. Then take a 2-minute break before going at it again for another 5 minutes.
Each day, add another 5 minutes to your focused work time, along with an additional 2 minutes to your break time. In 9 days, you should be able to work for 45 minutes straight before you allow yourself an 18-minute break. Once you get comfortable with that set-up, you can work to lengthen your focus sessions a little, while shortening your break times.
Clearing Your Mind
If you want to achieve the focus necessary to achieve your goals, you must first clear your mind. Yoga is one of the most effective focus improvement options available, putting you “in the zone” and clearing your mind to give you the energy to perform at your best.
Here are 3 good yoga poses you can do to help with focus:
Tree Pose (Vrksasana)
Tree Pose is a balancing pose and will help you gain both physical and mental steadiness and poise. It helps you improve focus and concentration while calming your mind.
Boat Pose (Navasana)
The Boat Pose helps relieve stress, and the less stressed out you are, the more focused you can be.
Corpse Pose (Shavasana)
It is the final pose of any yoga class and is one of deep restoration. Corpse Pose is also sometimes called Final Relaxation Pose. Its Sanskrit name, “Savasana”, comes from two words. The first is “Sava” (meaning “corpse”), and the second is “asana” (meaning “pose”)
The Corpse yoga pose allows you to surrender your body to your lowest position and be one on one with the ground.
One of the best ways to focus is through meditation. Meditation is often used to build focus.
Not only does meditation help keep you cool, calm, and collected, research has also shown again and again that mindfulness meditation can boost your attention span significantly.
In one study, 140 volunteers took part in an eight-week course in meditation training. After the eight weeks, all the volunteers showed measurable improvements in attention span, as well as other executive mental functions.
You don’t have to spend your days meditating in a monastery to take advantage of its attention-boosting power. Research has shown that just 10 to 20 minutes of meditation a day will do the trick. What’s more, you’ll even see improvements in your attention after just four days.
So if you want the power to focus on your studies for hours at a time, start your mornings off just focusing on your breath for a few minutes. Breath meditations are some of the best and most fulfilling meditations you can do and it just gets better as you go!
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We have discussed alot about building focus with yoga and different ways you can do it. It really does come down to putting in the time to better yourself and improve your body and mind, and the harmony between them.
Modern times have given us a lot of comforts and conveniences, but it has also unleashed a torrent of stimuli competing for our attention. To live a truly flourishing life amidst this cacophony of distractions, mastering your attention is key.
At the end of your life, you will care so much about: who you’ve become, what you’ve learned and accomplished, and who’s there at the end with you.
Will you think about a series of cat videos flashing before your eyes? Or will you look back on the deep conversations you had with your family and friends, or the books that changed your life, and the little details you discovered in all the places you visited?
We hope this article on focus and attention has gotten you to think about this increasingly precious commodity in a new light, as well as inspired you to take steps to improve it. You’ll be amazed how much your life can improve just by paying attention to your attention, and staying focused!
We hope you have enjoyed reading ‘Yoga Focus’ and we welcome you to leave any questions or suggestions in the comments section down below. We love to hear from you so please follow us on Social Media!