Some people practice yoga to achieve the relaxing states of alpha and theta brainwaves, not realizing that beta waves have advantages as well. Beta waves are the fastest of the main four brainwaves -- beta, alpha, theta and delta -- and make you feel more alert and engaged. Certain yoga poses, breathing techniques and meditations can increase your beta waves, alertness and focus.
According to Ned Herrmann, an educator, brain activity model maker and contributor to "Scientific Atlanta," beta waves are the brain waves responsible for thought and heightened awareness. They emit electrical activity between 15 to 40 hertz per second -- the fastest of the brainwaves. They also relate to activities that require engagement such as conversation or work. Many healthy adults already function within the beta range often, since it’s the brainwave that corresponds most to being awake and alert. NueroHealth Associates says that the high beta range -- 18 to 40 hertz -- relates to mental activities like math or planning. So, increasing your beta wave activity can actually help you feel more awake, alert and focused, especially if you’re tired, whereas alpha and theta are slower waves that correspond to more relaxing states.
Poses and Movements
Dahn Yoga recommends poses that activate the energy meridian point -- called Jangshim -- in the palm of your hand to create more beta wave activity. According to its website, babies taught to perform the hand movement Jaem Jaem, which activates Jangshim increased their beta wave activity by 30 percent. Research published in the "Journal of Neurophysiology” corroborates this idea, since primates performing hand movements operated within the range of 20 to 40 hertz, which is within the beat range of 15 to 40 hertz. You can also use the Sleeping Tiger pose to activate Jangshim and increase beta waves. Lie on your back with your arms and legs raised. Straighten your arms with your palms up and bend your knees at a 90-degree angle.
Meditation can increase beta brain waves, but it depends upon the meditation. For instance, according to a study published in the journal “Cognitive Processing,” participants who practiced two different types of meditations, activated two different brain waves. Participants practicing no thought meditation -- thinking of nothing -- activated beta waves, while those who practiced Qigong meditation -- a concentration-based meditation -- activated alpha waves.
The breath of fire -- or ego-eradicator as it is sometimes called in Kundalini yoga -- is a fast-paced breathing technique that can quickly wake up your body and mind. Also recommended is the Jangshim energy breathing technique, which opens the Jangshim meridian point. Sit in a chair and place your hands with your palms down and parallel with the floor. Breathe in as you imagine energy coming in through your palms and moving up to the heart. Breathe out while imagining the energy leaving your heart. Pay attention to how you feel as you do the exercises. According to NueroHealth, the high beta waves -- 18 hertz and above -- can sometimes make you feel agitated.
- Dahn Yoga: Jangshim: Energy Gateways for Your Heart
- NueroHealth Associates: The Science of Brainwaves: The Language of the Brain
- Journal of Neurophysiology: Oscillatory Activity in Sensorimotor Cortex of Awake Monkeys: Synchronization of Local Field Potentials and Relation to Behavior
- Scientific American: What Is the Function of the Various Brainwaves?
- Cognitive Processing: EEG Source Imaging During Two Qigong Meditations
- Photo Credit ULTRA F/Photodisc/Getty Images