Life during the Master's is not easy. You have lengthy assignments, massive projects, strict deadlines, frequent quizzes and exams, a part-time job, etc. And it doesn't end here. You have your chores like cooking, cleaning, washing dishes, and whatnot. Peer pressure and the pressure of getting an internship/co-op/full-time are a different class of problems altogether. To make things worse, there's COVID19 and the 4 months long winter which is just a few days away.
In such a situation, it is only natural that one might feel overwhelmed or stressed. There are times when we are unable to focus no matter what, times when we blank out when the assignment submission is just minutes away. In these stressful moments, we tend to pluck our hair, bite nails, overeat, oversleep, spend more time in the bathroom than necessary, etc.
I'm not an expert on this matter. But having experienced all these things myself, I tried a few yogic remedies which I found to be very effective. While there are thousands of yoga asanas and pranayama techniques that provide a wide range of benefits, the ones mentioned below are really simple which anyone can practice with ease. These techniques help relieve stress and clear the mind which will in-turn help you focus on whatever you are doing. And I assure you that it won't take more than 30 minutes (unless you want to extend it).
Trikonasana https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trikonasana : Translates to Triangle pose. It is named so because of its resemblance to the triangle. Apart from relieving stress and anxiety this asana also strengthens the thighs, knees, and ankles. It is also known to improve digestion and provide relief from backache.
Bhujangasana https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhujangasana : This is commonly known as Cobra pose for its resemblance to a cobra with its hood raised. This is one of the asanas that make up the Surya Namaskara. It is a simple, yet excellent asana that helps reduce stress and anxiety. Other benefits include stimulation of abdominal organs, improved flexibility, invigoration of the heart. It is also known to make the face radiant because of the increase in blood circulation.
Balasana https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balasana : Bala in Sanskrit translates to "child". This is a kneeling asana that almost instantly calms the mind. Performing this asana at the start of your day on an empty stomach will prepare your brain for all the heavy tasks for the rest of the day. It relaxes the spine, shoulders, and neck and relieves stress, tension, and fatigue.
Savasana https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shavasana : Also known as the Corpse Pose, it relaxes the whole body. Though it is easy to perform, it is one of the most challenging of all. Savasana is usually practiced at the end of a yoga session, giving you a positive and gentle end. Savasana is effective in relaxing your nervous systems and allows tissues and cells to repair. It is also powerful in releasing stress, reducing the heart rate, reducing anxiety, and alleviating insomnia.
Bhramari https://yogainternational.com/article/view/5-ways-to-practice-bhramari : While practicing this pranayama, a humming sound (much like a bee) is produced at the back of your throat, hence it is also known as Humming Bee Breath. It is a calming breathing practice, effective in soothing the nervous system. Bhramari Pranayama strengthens the health of the throat thus improving the voice. This pranayama is effective in releasing cerebral tension, lowering blood pressure, reducing anger, and inducing sound sleep.
Anuloma-Viloma https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anuloma_pranayama : This is a simple technique that involves alternating use of the left and right nostrils for breathing. You will be surprised to see that by the end of this pranayama, you are more relaxed than ever. The benefits of this technique are much more than just stress relief. Performing this pranayama regularly improves focus, enhances the ability to concentrate for a long time, fosters mental clarity, and makes the mind alert.
Ujjayi : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ujjayi_breath : Ujjayi Pranayama is another powerful pranayama to help calm the mind. Ujjayi Pranayama is also sometimes called Ocean Breath or Hissing Breath because of the sound made while performing this pranayama. Unlike other pranayamas, this pranayama can be performed in every pose. This pranayama is effective in increasing the amount of oxygen in the blood and regulates the blood pressure. It helps in detoxifying the mind and body. And lastly, the regular practice of this pranayama improves the concentration of the mind, releases tension.
- Abhay Rajendra Dixit, Computer Science MS student