The brain needs to keep busy or “exercised” to function effectively, thrive and to be at the top of its game. Researchers have found that yoga helps the brain in two distinct ways. Yoga has the ability to alleviate stress and anxiety which can slow down the brain. Once the stress and anxiety have been released from the brain, yoga can then be used to keep the brain busy which in turn helps the brain stay sharp. Studies have found that specific yoga poses help to regulate the vagus nerve which is involved in regulating the body’s mood and stress levels. Once stress levels are lowered, research has found that those who practice yoga have an increased happiness level and they have a better overall quality of life.
So as yoga rids the brain of stress and anxiety which slows the brain down, yoga opens the door to allowing the brain to exercise which keeps it sharp. Try these brain-boosting yoga poses to promote a healthy and happy brain.
Padmasana (Lotus Pose)
Find a flat surface and sit on the ground.
Your spine should be erect and legs stretched out.
Gently bend right knee and place it on your left thigh. You will most likely need to use your hands.
Soles point upwards and heels should be close to your stomach.
Do the same with the other leg.
After both legs are crossed, put your hands into a mudra of your choice and place on knees.
Stay straight and erect.
Breathe in deeply and exhale.
Hold for 2-3 minutes.
Repeat with opposite leg on top.
Vajrasana (Diamond Pose)
On the floor, kneel down and stretch lower legs backward.
Keep them together.
Big toes should cross each other.
Lower your body gently so your butt rests on your heels and thighs on calf muscles.
Place hand on knees and set gaze forward.
Head has to be straight.
Pay attention to breathing. Listen to how you inhale and exhale.
Close eyes and concentrate on your breathing.
Stay in Diamond Pose for 7 to 10 minutes.
Halasana (Plow Pose)
On the floor, lie flat on your back.
Arms placed next to the body with palms facing downwards.
Inhale, life feet off ground using stomach muscles.
Legs need to be at 90 degree angle.
Using your hands to support hips, lift them off the floor.
Bring feet to a 180 degree angle.
Toes are past your head (if possible).
Your back should be perpendicular to ground.
Hold position for 90 seconds.
Focus on breathing.
When you exhale for last time, gently bring down legs.
Do not jerk legs.
Padangusthasana (Big Toe Pose)
With feet 6 inches apart, stand upright.
Exhale as you bend forward from hips.
Move head and torso in unison.
Grip big toe using index finger and middle finger of your hands. Slide them in space between the second and big toe.
Inhale as try to lift your torso with straight elbows.
Lengthen your torso.
Lift sitting bones as you exhale.
Release hamstrings and gently lift your lower belly to back of pelvis.
You will feel your lower back hollow.
Try to deepen the hollow more with every exhale.
Bend your elbows and lengthen both sides and front of torso as you start to finish pose.
Lower yourself into forward bend when you exhale.
Hold for 45-60 seconds before releasing toes.
Move hands to rest on hips.
Inhale deeply as you bring head and torso upright together.
Bhramari Pranayama (Humming Bee Breathing)
In a quiet spot, sit down on the floor and close eyes.
Feel your body with your mind and “listen” to the quietness around you.
Put index fingers onto your ears in the cartilage between ear and cheek.
When you exhale, press gently onto the cartilage.
Keep it pressed and make a “bee” humming sound.
Higher pitched is more effective.
Repeat 5-7 times.