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Friday, September 4, 2009

Yoga Strategies to Help Cram For Exams

By Marilyn Reid

A feeling of anxiousness or anxiety prior to taking an examination is normal. In fact, some experts believe it is healthy as it serves as an effective stimuli that prompts one to come up with a preparation strategy for an upcoming examination.

But some people are not good with handling their nervousness and anxiety such that it affects their performance in the exam. This is most especially true for those who are cramming for their exam. This makes them repulsive to any preparation method as they are unable to clear their mind.

Allow Body Movement

When an individual feels tensed about the idea of taking an examination that s/he isn't fully prepared for, the tension is manifested throughout the entire body. Although you have short preparations to ensure that you perform well on your exam, that feeling of nervous tension often reacts on you mentally making you incapable of thinking logically.

Hence, a trick of releasing body tension and nervousness would be really helpful in remaining calm prior to taking your exam. Allowing as much body movement as possible is really helpful. You can do simple exercises such as walking, jogging, or stretching. This will effectively calm your nerves and release any tension that is building up. Doing these body movement enhancement exercises are also quite helpful in waking up your nerves and senses.

Reducing Anxiety and Stress

Stress and anxiety are two of the worst mental and physical health enemies. When people suffer from stress or anxiety, you lose synchronization and focus. This is a deadly combination when you are about to take an examination. The negative emotions or thoughts that you might be having could prevent you from thinking clearly. As a result, you have difficulty remembering all that you have reviewed for the exam and put you at risk for low performance.

Performing Rhythmic Breathing

Rhythmic breathing has been known to offer a wide range of benefits as a yoga practice. Among the physiological effects are increased oxygen supply and re-establishment of the body's natural rhythm.

Mentally though, rhythmic breathing offers benefits that would help those who are cramming for their exam. It helps bring about calmness of the mind, increase your level of self-confidence, and improve concentration ability. These are all mental abilities that would help improve your performance in an examination. Thus, retention of important information that you need to be able to respond to the exam questionnaires is a very useful benefit of practicing this particular yoga breathing technique.

Deep Breathing

Deep breathing in yoga has been known to effectively combat stress. As you know, preparing for an exam is such a stressful situation to be in. The level of stress also adds up when the actual time of the examination is drawing near and you have not done enough preparation to be confident on your exam performance.

Deep breathing comprises of full and cleansing breaths. This relaxation technique is very simple to perform and yet its effects on the body are very powerful. Here are the steps you can follow:


  • Find a comfortable sitting position. Make sure that your back is straight while you place on hand on your chest and the other resting on your stomach.
  • Use your nose for breathing in. Do this fully such that you can see your hand resting on your stomach rise. There should also be movement on your chest.
  • Use your mouth for exhalation. Do this in a sudden and forceful manner to empty out your lungs.
  • Repeat the same process all over again.


Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Here is another well known strategy used for stress relief due to its effectiveness. It involves two process that follows a systematic approach. The first step is involved with tensing specific muscle groups, while the second part helps in releasing that tension to provide relaxation. This is also a very good relaxation technique to use if you are suffering from muscular tension in specific areas of the body. It takes only a few minutes and would be very effective to perform a few minutes before starting your examination.

You must begin by trying to relax and make your entire body comfortable. You can start with slow and deep breathing to provide relaxation. Once you are ready, you can focus your attention on your right foot. Try to tense your muscles on your right foot by squeezing it and holding this position for at least 10 seconds. After that, relax your right foot and bask in the feeling of relaxing your foot.

Use the same method on your left foot this time. The same sequence of creating and releasing tension should be done. Follow this pattern by slowly working your way upwards in your body.

Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness meditation must not be confused with meditation. The former is more effective if you want to use this method for stress relief or reducing anxiety caused by cramming for an exam. The idea of mindfulness is basically enabling you to get rid of any negative form of thought and becoming more engaged with the present moment. This quality allows you to focus on the task at hand, which in this case is the exam, and increase ability to concentrate.

Although deeper than regular meditation, it does not equal zoning out though. There is still that certain level of awareness of your physical environment but attaining a more specific focus. This will be able you to be more guided in your mental activities.

Guided Visualization

Lack of focus and unorganized thoughts are very characteristic among individuals who are anxious or cramming for an exam. This is crucial as you could basically forget all the information you have patiently reviewed on previously.

To follow this relaxation technique, you must imagine a serene and tranquil scene. Your goal must be to find peace and release any form of tension, whether mental or physical. It could be somewhere tropical or your favorite place as a child, but it has to have a calming effect on you. Do this with your eyes closed and allow yourself to drift away into the scene. Take note of all sensory impulses too for a more effective stress relief.

Tai Chi

Tai Chi is one particular yoga style that you can practice to provide more physical and mental harmony that would help your exam preparation. It comprises of a series of slow and flowing movements. Some of the benefits of practicing Tai Chi includes relaxation of mind and body, revitalized energy, and increased concentration ability.

Tai Chi is a low impact yoga style that you can perform, which suits even those with minimum fitness level or any age level. Plus, the above mentioned benefits will truly help you cope with the tension of an upcoming examination.