Memory: A Dynamic Process of the Mind
Memory goes beyond merely retaining information and recalling it when the need arises. It is a dynamic faculty of the mind that actively analyzes the assimilated information and processes it to be used by us and our body, consciously or unconsciously. For example, out of the vast mass of information we come across daily in our lives, it sieves out the irrelevant part and retains only that part which is, or may be, useful to us. That’s why a good memory is said to be the key to a healthy and wealthy life.
Need to Train the Mind to Sharpen Memory
The importance of memory in our daily lives needs no reiteration. Every moment of our life floods us with new information, developments, happenings and facts that have to be taken into account. In order to cope up with all this, we have to train our mind in a way that strengthens the dynamic aspect of memory. However, most methods and techniques to improve our memory sorely fail in it, as their stress is only on the static process of retaining information.
Why Yoga Is the Best Way to Improve Memory
Yoga is perhaps the only method that takes into account both the static and the dynamic aspects of memory, thus strengthening all the faculties of the mind – retention, analysis, and recall. The asanas and other yogic practices bring about attention, sharpen the audio-visual perception, strengthen cognition, and facilitate the processing of sensory information. The yogic practice of hath yoga – a combination of asanas, pranayam, and various meditation techniques – stimulates blood supply to the brain. This facilitates the overall health of the brain and enhances concentration. This results not just in better memory but improved cognitive abilities in general.
Yogic Ways to Improve Memory
Yogasanas: Two great asanas that address all physical and mental problems to facilitate general well being are Sarvangasana and Bhujangasana. Both these provide a great boost to memory as well. Shirshasana is a specific asana for improving the functions of mind including memory. Its regular practice greatly sharpens memory while improving concentration and attention. Asanas involving forward bends, like Uttanasana and Pashchimottanasana, also improve memory by acting on the spinal cord and the nervous system.
Pranayams: Pranayam focuses the mind on the breath as it goes in and comes out of the lungs. The process elevates the level of oxygen in the body and stimulates the flow of spiritual energy, or prana, in the mind, thus giving a boost to memory. Kapal Bhati, Bhastrika, and Bhramari are the three best pranayams for memory. Different pranayams control breath in different ways, the most common being breathing in with one nostril while keeping the other closed, and breathing out with the other nostril while keeping the first closed.
Meditation: Meditation in Siddhasana, Padmasana or Sukhasana is a great help to memory. The effect increases manifold when the meditation is done while chanting some mantra. It is not necessary to use long mantras with difficult pronunciation. Simple omkar, or the chanting of om, is enough for the purpose.
Dharana: This is the yogic practice of concentration. It yokes the wandering mind and curbs its tendency to waver. The result is increased mental strength and improved work efficiency. At the same time, it takes stress off the mind and induces peace and calm. Its daily practice proves beneficial to the body as well as the mind in multifarious ways.
These yogic practices, taken together, go much beyond merely improving memory. They provide mental strength and impart a clear, focused and directional thinking, along with improved memory.
The Word of Conclusion
According to Joan Shivarpita Harringan, Director, Patanjali Kundalini Yoga Care, if you practice yoga regularly and religiously, it can shift the automatic patterns of your nervous system over time. It can change the physiological processes and stimulate positive neurotransmitters in the brain to lay down the foundation of a calm and peaceful life with clarity of purpose as well as receptivity and retentive power of the mind. Yoga Sutra aptly sums up the relation of yoga to mind: Yogah Chittavritti Nirodhah – yoga paves the way for the cessation of the fluctuations of mind; and a firm and stable mind is a clear and focused mind with optimum memory and problem solving abilities.