Use a yoga routine to help with mental clarity

Use a yoga routine to help with mental clarity

With so many demands and distractions in our modern workday, is there any wonder people are looking for more effective ways to focus their minds? From scheduling tasks and attending meetings to organizing the family carpool, it can all get a bit foggy. High levels of stress can make us feel as if the mind has derailed and gone into a land of self-punishment and undisciplined play, just when we need to be working or enjoying our relationships.

So, how are we able to once again take control?

Yoga has become a popular way to address such split-focus (pun intended) and bring our minds back to the game, so to speak.

Yoga has many forms, all of which attend to the mind and body juncture. Yoga roughly translates to “union”: union of mind and body, union of heaven and earth-- union of work and rest. Its aim is to join mind and body for enhanced combined effect, returning us to our natural capabilities.

Choosing Your Path of Clarity

There are many schools of yoga, some of which are named after their premier teachers, and others for their technique. Some of the more popular types include Kundalini, Ashtanga, Iyengar, Hatha and Bikram. However, it isn’t crucial to choose the “correct yoga” to practice the first time out, as some may feel more appropriate to you than others.

Here is a short list of benefits of these different types; see what suits you best for your goals:


Ashtanga is a yoga form that moves through poses, so the student feels high energy and muscle movement. Stretch and strengthening are increased, and the mind is a major player in focusing through each position. Many people find this type beneficial because of its active nature, so harnessing the mind can also feel like a workout.


Bikram, or “hot yoga,” is practiced in a heated room, and can involve dynamic stillness or movement through poses. The heat pumps up the detoxifying element of sweating and finds muscular release. The challenge of both the physical postures and the heat uniquely urges the mind to “stick with it,” and that can help your determination through adversity.


Hatha yoga is a term for a series of exercises, usually based in held postures that combine the body and mind into harmony. Hatha can be interpreted to mean “willful” or “forceful”, but derived from the concept that sun energy and moon energy in the body are smelted into one.

To practice this, teachers encourage peacefulness of mind within a dynamic pose, or quieting the mind to experience the body, if either is dominant. This can be of considerable use in keeping an even keel, especially when stress arrives to put us off balance.


Iyengar is a teacher of hatha yoga, and his disciples are devout. Besides being an effective hatha practice, Iyengar is known in bodywork circles for adaptations that can be made to poses, in order to ease the restrictions of injury or structural limitations. Modifications can be important for newcomers to the practice, and teach us that not every challenge (mental or physical) needs be pushed through.

Sometimes, a gentle approach or adjustment is still the best route-- even with an important deadline looming.


Kundalini has a unique focus, in that these techniques use breathwork and chanting as a way of filling the body with fire energy, or god energy within. This energy is said to be coiled at the base of the spine and can be brought up through the body to awaken each chakra (energy center) and even bring the practicer to enlightenment.

While we may not all seek enlightenment, kundalini yoga can bring us in harmony with an awakened mind and better ability to focus on the tasks at hand. The extra oxygen in this breath work also benefits the brain quite directly by clearing that foggy feeling after being indoors and artificially lit most of the day.

Getting Back into the “Flow” of Things

Yoga is gaining a lot of scientific validation to help its popularity, but for thousands of years, yoga has lowered stress, raised health and mental focus. Trying different forms of practice could bring the mental focus back into your daily life in a way that is long-lasting and personally satisfying. Namaste.

Guest Writer Virginia Cunningham is a health enthusiast and experienced yogi living in Southern California. Her writing, in collaboration with NorthWest, covers various health topics, from alternative health and medicine to natural supplements and vitamins. She personally enjoys practicing yoga each day, which also helps to ease her mind and improve her focus.