Being a Student can be hard work, especially when it comes to study. Assignments on top of assignments, not to mention all the practical stuff, makes it all quite stressful. So, can studying at home be made easier for free?
In the ancient Indian system of yoga, a few techniques can be found to not only relax and de-stress but, also to help enhance brain function, clear the mind of external influences (Desperate Scousewives and The Champion’s league being the two usual external influences.) and focus mental clarity.
Many people in Ireland practice yoga as a fitness only. A few others practice yoga for its spirituality. In America yoga is a multi-million dollar industry that is getting more and more popular every year but, it’s mostly all about fitness. For those who only know a little about yoga, it has nothing to do with trying to put your right leg behind your left ear.
Hatha yoga is the root of all physical yoga as it is known today and is basically a practice of physical postures to purify the body in readiness for Meditation. But, in the process of purifying the body, the practice also balances the left and right hemispheres of the brain and this is where it can help us with mental clarity and focus.
When you’re sitting in front of your laptop at 2 in the morning trying to get that assignment that’s due at 9 in the morning finished, every 30 minutes or so, take a break. As far as stretching is concerned, those classic “I’ve been working real hard” stretches are always good. You know the ones; Stretching arms overhead, interlocking fingers and having a big yawn. It’s all good. A forward bend with straight legs is useful. See if you can touch your toes but, if you can’t, then just hang there for a few breaths. It stretches the hamstrings as well as making it easier for the heart to pump blood to your head.
One of the best benefits for studying though is the breathing techniques of yoga or, “Pranayama”. Again it’s all about balancing the left and right hemispheres of the brain and like your hands, the nostrils connect to the opposite side of the brain. So, left nostril is right brain (That’s the arty, creative and musical side) and right nostril is left brain (that’s mathematical, analytical, I am me side of the brain).
The practice of alternate nostril breathing or, Nadi Sodhana Pranayama is a technique that balances both sides of the brain quite quickly;
Sit in a comfortable position with your back straight. Your left hand can just relax on your knee, but with the fingers of your right hand you’re going to hold your nostrils right at the very tip of the soft part of your nose. Squeeze the tips of your ring and little finger together and place over your left nostril, then use the tip of your thumb over your right nostril.
Sitting with your back nice and straight, take a good deep breath in and out through both nostrils. Now using your thumb to block your right nostril (gently) breathe in through the left. Hold at the top of the breath while changing from thumb to fingers on the left nostril, then breathe out through the right. Hold at the bottom of the breath, then breathe in through the right. Hold again at the top of the breath and change from fingers to thumb again and breathe out through the left nostril. I’ve just explained one complete round of nadi sodhana. Always start and finish with the left nostril. You can drop the hand and practice breathing through each nostril without closing the other….. sounds impossible, but with a little practice you’ll get a sense of it working.
Nadi sodhana pranayama is said to give increased intuition with a little practice. Stopping for a break while studying, having a stretch and then practising this breathing technique for around five or, ten minutes will give your body and mind a kick and get you back on track again. Try it while you’re waiting for the kettle to boil for that all important cup of tea.