We have all experienced times in our lives when it has felt hard to focus. With so much going on in the world and all of the distractions of modern life, it is normal to feel like your attention is scattered and to have difficulty honing your awareness on a single task. There are many powerful ways to increase focus and concentration without the extra cup of coffee or relying on stimulants. Breath, meditation, and grounded movement are powerful ways to start improving your concentration. This practice was created to invite a relaxed yet grounded awareness into your body and the present moment. Try this practice at the start of your day to boost concentration and stay in a workflow all day long.
Nadi Shodhana is a form of pranayama that balances the left and right hemispheres of the brain and brings harmony and balance to the mind. It is a slow and focused breath that allows you to draw your awareness to the practice and drop deeply into the present moment.
To practice Nadi Shodhana, sit comfortably with your back upright, somewhere where you will not be disturbed. Take a few deep breaths to settle into your body. Begin by tucking your index and middle finger into the palm of the hand. Exhale all of the air out, and close off your right nostril with your thumb as you inhale through the left. At the top of the inhale, plug the left nostril and exhale out of the right. Inhale through the right, and repeat the process by plugging the right nostril and exhaling out the left. Continue this pattern for up to five minutes, releasing your final exhale out of the left nostril and resting your hands in your lap.
Begin to invite your awareness to your breath. Feel as it enters and leaves through the nostrils. Notice the temperature, the sensation, and any other qualities of the breath that meet your awareness. Now begin to follow the breath, watching as it enters through the nostrils and fills the body, and then watch it as it leaves and allow your body to relax. Follow the air with your awareness as it enters your body and as it leaves. Continue to follow your breath in and out, redirecting your attention when your mind wanders. Continue this for five minutes, slowly returning to the space around you and opening your eyes when you are finished.
Seated Spine Articulation
From your seated position, root firmly through your sit bones and place both palms on your thighs. On an inhale, open up through the heart, arching the spine and directing your gaze toward the ceiling. On your exhale, press your palms into your legs and hollow out the belly and spine, gazing toward your navel. Repeat this process for seven rounds, linking breath to movement and directing the entirety of your awareness to your body.
Come to stand at the top of your mat, feet hip-width apart, and fold over your legs. Invite a gentle bend into the knees and allow your head and neck to hang heavy. You can place your palms on the mat or grab opposite elbows for rag doll. Nod the head yes and shake the head no, releasing any tension in the neck and shoulders. Hold and breathe for ten breaths, allowing the body to soften deeper with every exhale.
From forward fold, inhale to halfway lift, then place your palms on the mat and step back to a high plank. Place your palms underneath your shoulders and engage your legs. Lift your hip points toward your ribs, and press firmly into your hands to puff up between the shoulder blades. Stay steady and engaged as you hold and breathe for five breaths. Gently lower down to the mat when you are finished.
Come into a seated position. Extend your legs out at a 45-degree angle and extend your arms forward by your sides. You may bend your legs, keeping your shins parallel to the mat to modify. Keep a long, neutral spine and engaged core. Find a steady gaze at something in front of you and hold for ten breaths.
Come to lie down on your back. You may want to place a block or blanket underneath your sacrum for support. Extend your legs toward the ceiling, coming into waterfall pose. Keep a slight bend in your knees and allow the rest of the body to be heavy. Hold here for up to five minutes, allowing your body to relax deeper as you receive the nourishment from this inversion. When you are finished, gently come out of the posture. You may take a brief savasana or move about the rest of your day.