Memory is critical to our daily lives. Memory is the capacity to retain information about past events, and helps us plan future events. We should be aware of how our memories work, what changes occur in memory over time, and how we can improve our memories as we get older. Fortunately, most changes in memory are normal changes of the aging process, or may be caused by temporary or treatable problems.
It is important to understand that there are memory problems in all age groups. Children and teenagers seem to forget everything they’ve just been told. Many adults are so busy and have so many distractions, they just don’t have time to remember everything. Seniors are more likely to have difficulty remembering names, items on a list, or where they put things. In general, no one has a “perfect” memory. Most of what happens around us is forgotten because there’s no need to remember everything. We are bombarded with information all the time and the memory processes only the information that we need to remember.
There are many yogic techniques that stimulate the brain and nervous system to improve memory and concentration.
Dharana- or the practice of Concentration. Dharana affects and reduces the occupied mind. The mind is kept firm at one place instead of letting it wander here and there. This reduces strain on the mind. The mental strength increases. With such habitual concentration, the work is done effectively and efficiently. The daily practice of dharana reduces the wavering attitude of mind and a different kind of peace can be observed throughout the day. The sixth limb of yoga, is a state of focused attention used during asana.
Pranayama and Meditation. Dharana trains the mind to become clear, focused and one-pointed.
In asana, using a drishti (gazing point), especially during balancing postures, improves mental concentration. Spine lengthening postures, the forward and back bending poses, activate the spinal column and stimulate the nervous system.
In pranayama, the mind is focused on the breath as it flows in and out of the body. Oxygen and prana (energy) are also increased in the body and brain by the regulation of breath. Thus, pranayama increases concentration as well as nourishes the brain.
Meditation is a step beyond Dharna, requiring even more mental focus and concentration. The practice of meditation either by itself or in conjunction with asana and pranayama un-clutters the mind by reducing excessive thinking. Excessive thinking consumes mental energy and fogs the mind from seeing and thinking clearly. Meditation on the sixth chakra or third eye will activate the brain as well as focus the mind.