By Georgina Berbari. This article originally appeared on www.elitedaily.com.
More often than not, studying can be painfully monotonous. Can I get an amen from all of my college and grad school students out there grinding? While there are various ways to make studying a tiny bit more tolerable, it never hurts to break up your study sessions with some rejuvenating movement that both stimulates and soothes the mind, and relieves some of that tension you’re holding on to in your body. And what better way to do that than with some yoga poses you can do while studying? Trust me, these asanas will make your cramming — I mean, studying — so much more bearable.
“Numerous scientific studies have proven yoga can empower you to increase memory and cognitive function,” Veronica Parker, a kundalini yoga teacher and meditation coach, tells Elite Daily over email. “Having a consistent and regular yoga practice can help you release stress, improve memory, and ace your tests.”
While you practice these poses, Parker explains, don’t forget to tune into your breath as well. “Studies have demonstrated the benefits of unilateral nostril breathing to increase oxygen and brain function.”
From breathing to bodily movement, here are seven poses you won’t want to skip out on during your next study sesh. Your muscles and your mind will thank you, that’s for sure.
LEGS UP THE WALL POSE
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“Legs up the wall pose is an easy and restorative yoga pose, helping the mind and body relax while releasing stress,” Parker tells Elite Daily.
Lie down on the floor, and inch your butt up so it’s touching the wall, while your legs rest straight up the wall, the yoga teacher explains. Feel free to add a small pillow under your head, Parker suggests, a cozy blanket to cover your body, and maybe even listen to some soothing music to help you unwind.
“Inhale deeply through your nose, then exhale slowly. Repeat this slow breath pattern and continue to relax,” Parker says. Alternatively, she adds, you can open up your legs into a “V” formation, if that feels good.
Finally, let your hips open up and release all of the tension you’re holding there. Release, relax, and give yourself permission to receive whatever you need at this time.
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Shoulder stand is a powerful inversion that can increase blood flow to the brain, thus improving memory and well-being, according to Parker.
“You can start by lying on your back with your arms beside you,” she explains. “Bend the knees, and bring them above your chest. Press the arms against the ground, and start to lift the hips up. Use your hands to support the hips.”
Now, straighten your legs up, gently move your hands to support the mid-back, and try to stay in this pose for a minimum of three minutes before resuming your studies.
HEAD TO KNEE POSE
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“Head to knee pose stimulates the third eye and frontal lobe, allowing the brain and mind to relax,” Parker tells Elite Daily. Sounds perfect for those stressful study sessions, right?
“Sit on the floor with the legs extended in front of you. Press the legs against the floor, and pull back the toes, pressing the heels away from the body,” the yoga teacher explains. Be sure to keep your leg muscles activated here, she adds.
Then, stretch your spine up, drop the shoulders down and back, and tuck your chin in slightly. “Start leaning forward from the hips, keeping the spine straight and reaching for the toes before you wrap the index and middle finger around the large toe, and press the toenail with the pad of the thumb,” Parker says.
Take a few deep breaths in here. Exhale, and relax.
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“Lotus pose comes to mind immediately [as one] to do while you’re actually studying,” Susan Shumsky, a yoga teacher and author of the book Awaken Your Divine Intuition, tells Elite Daily over email. And why is that? Well, she says it’s because this pose requires you to be alert and cross-legged: aka a pretty ideal set-up for a study session.
If full lotus is too advanced for your practice, try half-lotus to modify.
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“Any yoga asanas will increase your mental capacity, since the purpose and result of doing asanas is that they increase the flow of prana (life force energy) throughout the body,” Shumsky explains. “When life force energy is flowing without obstruction, the mind becomes clear, and you experience elevated consciousness.”
Plus, kneeling in vajrasana (victory/thunderbolt pose) will be especially accessible while you’re studying. If you have sensitive knees or ankles that are giving you issues in this asana, try staff pose instead.
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“Stress and anxiety can cause the mind to become agitated, our thoughts to be scattered, and focus to fade,” Nancy Gerstein, a yoga teacher, author of the book Guiding Yoga’s Light, and founder of Motivational Yoga, tells Elite Daily in an email, adding that sphinx pose can help to ease some of these scattered thoughts and soothe intension in the body.
According to Gerstein, sphinx pose is especially great for opening up your chest and shoulders, which will feel amazing if your upper body gets a little cramped after hunching over your books for hours on end.
BUMBLE BEE BREATH
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“Bhramari breath (aka bumble bee breath) is ideal for memory, as well as concentration issues, before or after a study session or workday,” Gerstein recommends. The humming sound of the exhale and its vibrations can calm and soothe the mind, the teacher explains, as well as alleviate fatigue, and even dark emotions, such as anxiety and anger.
Don’t worry about being silly with this breathing technique — letting loose and accessing your inner child will feel great during a tedious session of studying.