7 Ways to Boost Your Memory
Meet Pippi. No, I didn’t get a dog. I’m just dog sitting this week while a friend is out of town. You can see that Pippi is an adorable, teeny, tiny poodle. She has a teeny, tiny bladder to match her size so every 3 or 4 hours we go outside for a walk since I don’t have a yard.
It’s nice to be outside, but it means I’ve had to adjust my entire schedule. Most of us have our daily routines and I’m no different. I especially like my morning routine, which has been upended by dog sitting duties.
While we were out walking at 5:30 a.m. this morning, I was reflecting on my adjusted schedule and, true confession, missing my morning routine. Then I wondered – when does a routine become a rut causing our brain to go on auto pilot so we no longer focus on what we’re doing? What does that do to our brains?
This month’s blog has talked about brain health and the critical role a sharp, healthy mind plays in healthy aging and total well being. We’ll finish up July’s topic by focusing on FOCUS.
Medical researchers know that much of age related forgetfulness is due to not paying attention. It can be easy to not pay attention, to go on auto pilot, when some activity is completely routine and, perhaps, boring. The obvious solution is to pay attention and focus on the activity.
In yoga, we talk about focus as “being in the moment” and “being mindful”. Frankly, it’s much easier said than done. Our minds can be so unruly. But, FOCUS (mindfulness) is the key component to improving memory.
Steps to Boosting Memory
There are numbers of ways to improve focus and with it memory. You may have some techniques that work for you and I would love to hear about them. (firstname.lastname@example.org) Following are some that work for me. The first four are yoga related followed by three non-yoga specific suggestions. By the way, you’ll find the postures I describe in The Five Yoga Essentials e-book published last week.
- Incorporate Asymmetrical Postures into your yoga practice. Our brains like symmetry. In a forward bend, for example, feet are kept parallel and we touch same hand to same foot. If we change that and step one foot in front of the other and bring opposite hand to opposite foot our brain isn’t used to that and pays closer attention. Brain synapses also improve.
- Incorporate Balance Postures into your practice. My teacher says that the balance postures will tell you immediately how good your focus is and I’ve found that to be true. Try standing on your toes or one foot while thinking about something else.
- Be Present; Practice Mindfulness throughout your practice. I like to explore the postures by asking myself questions. Where is my breath? Where do I feel this posture? How can I modify the posture to keep it fresh? Questions like these help keep postures I’ve been doing for decades from becoming routine.
- Meditate. There are many benefits to meditation and we’ll delve more deeply into them next month. One major benefit is that it reduces stress, which improves concentration because it is difficult to focus when stressed out.
- Schedule attention requiring tasks for the time of day when your brain is sharpest. For many people, myself included, that time is morning.
- Minimize External Distractions. I’ve never been one of those people who can focus on attention requiring tasks with loud music, or the TV or people blaring in the background. Learn what breaks your concentration and try to avoid these distractions.
- Change Your Environment. Take a break and do some other activity when you can’t concentrate on the task at hand. Go for a walk, call a friend, etc and come back refreshed and recharged.
By the way, Pippi loves the calm and relaxation of yoga. She sits next to me during my practice and goes to sleep in Savasana. Too Cute!
Enjoy and Breathe Easy!
Health is a precious gift and my goal is to help you live a healthier, happier life through yoga. Every private session is uniquely designed just for you. For a free telephone consultation call me at 303.818.4181. Discover whether personalized, private yoga instruction is right for you.
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