In Part One, we talked about yoga and the benefits it can have for those studying for the bar exam. Today, we will show you the poses that will increase your ability to concentrate.
Studying for the bar requires focusing on complex material for long periods at a time. It’s a marathon for your brain, and yoga just might be the perfect way to cross-train. While practicing yoga overall helps with blood flow and oxygenation, both of which improve brain function, there are specific poses which help develop your ability to concentrate. You can always attend yoga classes, but you can also practice at home if you are short on time or want to hone in on one specific goal with yoga. If you want to boost your concentration skills, or if you’re having a day when you just can’t seem to focus, try these poses for 5-10 breaths each and tackle your MBE questions with renewed confidence!
Balancing poses require strength, coordination, and endurance, but they also demand and help improve concentration. From standing, shift your weight to your right leg. Lift your left foot and place it on the inside of your standing leg, either on the calf or on the thigh, avoiding placing it on the side of the knee. Repeat on the other side.
Eagle pose helps to relax your shoulders and hips as well as develop your concentration. From standing, bend your left leg and cross it over your right knee. Slowly bend your right knee and wrap your left foot around your right calf. Once you feel steady, cross your left elbow over your right elbow and wrap your arms together, drawing them towards each other. Repeat on the other side.
Downward Facing Dog
The most well-known yoga pose, downward facing dog increases blood flow to the brain, helping with memory and concentration. Start on your hands and knees. Make sure your wrists are in line with your shoulders and your knees are in line with your hips. Spread your fingers wide and press them into the mat. Tuck your toes, lift your knees off of the floor, and raise your hips towards the ceiling as you straighten your legs and press the floor away. Be careful not to lock your knees. You may want to pedal your feet, slowly bending one knee at a time and then straightening it before repeating on the other side.
Warrior II helps you improve your ability to concentrate by utilizing a drishti, or focused gaze. Start in downward facing dog. Step your right foot forward between your hands, and spin your left heel down to the ground, keeping your foot angled outwards slightly. Windmill your arms open, with your right arm reaching forward and your left reaching towards the back of the mat. Gaze over the middle finger of your right hand, and pick a spot to focus on. This is your drishti. Hold your focus for the entire 5 breaths, or longer if you choose. Repeat on the other side.
Sukhasana (Easy Pose)
There really is something easy that can help you with bar prep! Finish with this meditative pose that teaches you to be still and focused, and will improve your ability to concentrate for longer periods of time by shutting out distractions. Sit up straight with your legs out in front of you. Bend your knees and cross your right shin in front of your left. Keeping your knees wide, tuck each foot under the opposite knee. Widen your knees, and rest the backs of your hands in your lap, or rest your palms on your knees. Either gaze straight ahead or close your eyes, and take slow, deep breaths. Focus on your breathing and try to clear all other thoughts from your mind. If you find this difficult, try counting slowly in your head to focus your thoughts in one place and prevent your mind from wandering to your most recent essay practice question. Try to do this pose for 5 minutes a day.
Next time: Poses to Combat Sitting and Poor Posture in Studying
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Did you find this post helpful? Check out the other articles in this series:
Photo credit: Megan Canty