Yoga is a surprising but effective way to boost your brainpower. Try asanas like the plow pose, bridge pose, big toe pose, and inversions like the shoulder stand to increase blood circulation and oxygen flow to the brain.
Try asanas like the lotus poses to reduce stress and calm your mind. You could also consider yogic breathing and massage, as they not only improve focus but also fight anxiety.
Are you trying to keep your mind sharp even as stress, age, and other factors get in the way? Keeping your brain fit and in good working order is vital not just in the prime of your life but even as you grow older. And yoga could be the key. You may know that yoga is a good form of exercise that gets your blood circulation going, improves oxygen flow, and helps with overall health. But did you know that yoga also helps boost brain function?
Here's a roundup of the best asanas to ramp up your brain and keep it in good health.
1. Tadasana Or Mountain Pose
This simple standing pose can help you focus your mind on your breathing, thereby relaxing you. It can also alleviate headaches and insomnia.6 When you don't get enough sleep, your brain isn't able to function at its best. This pose should help you sleep better so your brain is more alert.
Stand with your feet together, arms by the sides, your fingers pointing down to the ground.
Keep your abdomen engaged but your pelvis neutral.
Broaden your collarbone and roll your shoulders back.
Keep your chin parallel to the ground, the top of your head spiraling up to the ceiling as you feel your spine lengthen.
Breathe in and out with a gentle "ha" sound as you exhale.
2. Sarvangasana Or Shoulder Stand
This inversion helps nourish the brain by improving blood flow to the hypothalamus and pineal glands in your brain. This, in turn, boosts brain function and cognitive function. Here are the steps to ease into a shoulder stand. But it would be best to attempt this under the guidance of a yoga practitioner initially to avoid injury.7
Lie down on your back and slowly lift your legs up into the air, extending them in a controlled manner.
Your elbows must be resting on the floor.
Keep your hands beneath your hips and breathe in as you slowly raise your pelvis, followed by your trunk, off the mat/ground. Keep going until you feel your chin touching your chest.
Hold this position and keep breathing normally. Try to hold for a few seconds.
Breathe out as you slowly lower your torso (followed by your pelvis and legs) back to the ground.
3.Paschimottanasana Or Seated Forward Bend
Touted to be really good for your brain, this type of forward bend helps revive your nervous system, boost blood supply, and calm your mind.8
Sit on the ground on a mat or folded blanket to support the buttocks and extend your legs.
Rock on each buttock by turn, pulling away from the other sitting bone as you do so.
The tops of your thighs must be turned in ever so slightly and pressed into the floor.
Press your palms and fingertips into the floor and raise your sternum up to the ceiling.
Breathe in as you lean forward from your hip, arms fully extended, elbows straight, hands on the sides of your feet, and your thumbs resting on your soles.
Do not lean from your waist.
Feel your tailbone lengthen. If you cannot reach your feet with the hands, use a strap looped around the feet and hold this instead.
Gently ease into the forward bend, lengthening your front torso and keeping the head raised.
Your elbows must bend out to your sides and lift up off the floor.
If you're holding a strap then loosen your hold, move your hands forward and keep your arms long when you do this.
Feel your lower belly graze your thighs, followed by your upper belly and then your ribs.
Your head will touch your thighs last.
Allow your front torso to rise and lengthen a little each time you breathe in. When you exhale, release more into the forward bend. Repeat this for 2-3 minutes.
To exit the pose, lift your torso from your thighs gently and straighten your elbows.
Breathe in as you raise your torso up, pulling your tailbone into the pelvis.
4. Padmasana Or Lotus Pose
This pose calms the mind and washes away fatigue and muscular tension. When you relax and unwind, your brain is able to rejuvenate itself and be more alert to take on new challenges.
Sit on the ground on a mat with your legs stretched ahead of you and your spine erect.
Bend your right leg at the knee, placing that leg onto your left thigh so that the soles of your feet point up and your heel is as close to your abdomen as you can manage.
Bend your left leg at the knee, bringing it onto your right thigh in the same manner.
Now put your hands into a mudra of your choice. Try the classic chin mudra where you bring the index finger and thumb together to form a circle, touching them together lightly, and extend the rest of your fingers straight. Ensure your spine is erect throughout.
Inhale and exhale deeply with long breaths.
5. Setubandhasana Or Bridge Pose
The bridge pose is a restorative pose that calms your mind and also revitalizes you. It boosts blood supply to the brain and revitalizes your nervous system. Regular practice can even reduce your migraine headaches.9 10
Lie on your back with knees bent so that your feet are firmly flat on the floor about hip-distance apart.
Reach toward your heels with your fingers, lengthening your arms. Your palms must face down.
Let your gaze drop down to your knees.
Breathe in as you roll your body up through the spine, beginning with your hips. Go as high as you can.
Hold this pose for 3 to 5 breaths before exhaling and lowering your body slowly.