Super Brain Yoga -Thoppukaranam. Religious Significance and Current Research
Super Brain Yoga is the practice where pressure is held on the acupressure point of ear lobe. Gentle pressure is applied on either side with the thumb opposing the fingers while performing a squat.
Let us acknowledge the ancient practice of squats at the end of religious Ganesh Pooja.
On this holiday, I was hearing the Brahmin recite pooja rituals on the laptop. I hear him advise, the entire family to perform 10 Squats at the end of Pooja holding the ears.
As I ask my 9-year-old Son, who can perform the squats in full expression, his buttocks touching his heels with ease, my husband and I performed a modified version of the squat. I later learnt is called “Thoppukaranam”. It basically is a modified squat position with knees bending only to 90 degrees.
I fondly reminisce my childhood days when my brother and I, were competing as to who performs the most number of squats on each Vinayaka Chavithi & of course with full expression.Another experience is my social studies sir (a subject which I was never good at) punishing me for talking in the middle of class, with squats standing outside the classroom : )
Now that I am a physical therapist, I was recollecting an article that I read over the internet about Brain Yoga and how it helps children with their attention. That was an aha moment for me.
Research Behind Super Brain Yoga/Thoppukaranam:
I took some time on this long weekend to research the articles where I came across several mentions of Super Brain yoga, study by Yale University Professor but also a modified version which we practiced this holiday Thoppukaranam. I realized extensive research performed by the center for Pranic Healing USA where standardized tests scores using the Gates MacGinitie Reading Inventory as a measurement tool. The study reports a point change of 24 in the positive direction. Another study performed by the same center utilized regular super yoga practice in 4 kids suffering from ADHD, Autism etc., reported significant improvements in the sensory processing, visual perception, visual-motor speed, speech, language, communication and social behavior in these children.
A study performed by Chandrasekaran et al at the S-VYASA University evaluated the effect of Thoppukaranam on selective attention and psychological states in a sample of young adults report a statistically significant improvement in attention and inhibitory control with the practice of Thoppukaranam as compared to baseline and traditional squats.
I could however not find the original research study by Dr.Eugenius Ang, Jr at Yale University, which is mentioned by several researchers.
There is also a contradiction that the entire practice of Brain Yoga is a hoax. Hoax or not a hoax, there is research supporting beneficial effects of aerobic activity, coordination in improving memory, attention and mental skills.
Try it yourself and figure out if it is beneficial for you, as all it takes is 15 minutes of regular practice.
The recommended dosage is 15-20 reps of Super Brain Yoga or Thoppukaranam, a modified version of Brian Yoga to reap the beneficial effects.
Asha Gummadi, is a physical therapist with 15 years of clinical experience. She practices in USA. Asha is a board certified neurological clinical specialist, competent at treating patients with vestibular dysfunction and primarily treats patients suffering with functional impairments from stroke, balance, and vestibular pathologies.
- Chandrasekeran, A., Rajesh, S. K., & Srinivasan, T. (2014). Effect of repetitive yogic squats with specific hand position (Thoppukaranam) on selective attention and psychological states. International journal of yoga, 7(1), 76–79. doi:10.4103/0973-6131.123497
- Verma, S. & Kumar, K. (2016). Evidence based study on super brain yoga and its application on alpha E.E.G. in adolescence. International Journal of Science and Consciousness; 2(4): 40-46.