Yoga Can Help You Focus
Yoga is an ancient Sanskrit word meaning “union.” The goal of yoga is to form a union between yourself and your Higher Power. Most people think yoga is just stretching and strengthening the body, but that is just one form, technically known as hatha (Sanskrit for sun and moon) yoga, and its main purpose is to prepare the body and mind for linking with the divine. Other forms of yoga are called: Raja, Bhakti, Tantra and Karma yoga, and all are valuable for your wellbeing.
There is a little-known yogic system called Swara Yoga, or “brain breathing.” It requires no special clothes or difficult stretches and can be performed sitting, laying down, or even while standing. And it can change your life! Modern theory has come to agree with the knowledge of the ancient Tantrics, that the hemispheres of the brain have different functions, and that the focus of the brain tends to shift from one side to the other every 90 minutes. Swara yoga harnesses your brain’s ability to switch focus, making your task at hand easier to accomplish. It is, for this reason, the ultimate form of yoga.
Which Side Are You?
You can determine which side of your brain is more dominant during this with a simple breathing technique. Use a finger to close one nostril and breathe through the other. Now repeat, but reverse the closed sides. On one side your breathing will be clearer—maybe slightly or quite obviously; that is the side that is currently strongest.
If the left nostril is more open, it is an indicator that you are at a higher point for the right side of your brain. It carries the Ida, or lunar energy and is associated with activities like art, music, gardening, caretaking, service, meditating, and improving friendships. Mystically this is called watery energy. If the right nostril is more open it is an indicator that you are at a higher point for the left side of your brain. It carries the Pingala, or solar energy and is ideal for such things as hard logical work, battling, medical work, hatha yoga, hunting, and all things of a fiery nature.
The best time for painting your masterpiece is during the Ida cycle. The best time to take an important true-false test would be during the Pingala cycle. Unfortunately, we can’t always choose the time to do something. Luckily, there is an easy way to rapidly change the cycle. Simply use your thumb to press into your armpit on the side where cycle of the energy currently resides. It will quickly change to the other side, a fact you can check by using the nostril test described above.
Note to teachers: This could explain why students can get fidgety or unruly after about 90 minutes of work, and why it’s good to take a break at that time.
Mastering the Mind
There is another aspect to Swara Yoga (“swara” is Sanskrit for a musical note) that is even more important. Normally, the change over from one energy to the other—Ida to Pingala—lasts about six minutes. During this time you are balanced—left and right, male and female, magnetic and electric, lower self and higher self. When you are aware of this period, you can use it to balance your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual being. Fortunately, you don’t have to wait for this period, you can create and extend it, allowing you to find peace, harmony, and unity with the Divine (yoga) as you reduce stress and increase creativity.
- Find a comfortable sitting position.
- Place the tip of the index finger of your right hand above your nose, between your eyebrows. With the thumb, press against the right nostril, closing it. Inhale through the left nostril.
- Release the thumb and press against the left nostril with your middle finger. Exhale through the right nostril.
- Now inhale through the right nostril.
- Release the middle finger and press as before with the thumb. Exhale through the left nostril.
- Repeat this process for 20 minutes.
Practicing swara yoga for ten to twenty minutes daily will leave you happier, more peaceful, and with more strength of will to achieve your goals.
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