Thoppu Karanam

Thoppu Karanam

This is a nice way to start a pranayama or meditation practice, awaken your brain when you need better focus or attention, and/or if you do have to sit at a desk break it up with Thoppu Karanam or what is called “Super Brain Yoga”.

Photo by Patrick McDowell

It is a funky type of squat done while holding your earlobes.

Hold your right earlobe with your left thumb on the front, fingernail outward and index finger behind your lobe. Then do the same with your right hand holding your left earlobe — and it matters which hand is on top left first, right on top.

Modernly its taught to stand with your feet hip distance apart and squat, but when I did it in pranayama classes with Robert Moses, he had us cross our right foot over the left and squat that way. Either way inhale and squat, exhale stand up. Squat with your breath. Although I habitually switch over to the yoga breathing way of inhaling on extension (when standing up) and exhaling on flexion or the squat down.

Photo by Patrick McDowell

The right ear lobe represents the left brain, which includes the pituitary gland. When you hold the right ear lobe in this manner, you energize your left brain and balance the hormonal secretions of the pituitary gland.

The left ear lobe represents the right brain, including the pineal gland. Holding the left ear lobe this way energizes and activates the right brain and balances the pineal gland which is what secretes melatonin.

There are studies done on this yogic exercise showing an improvement in attention and concentration and a reduction in anxiety when compared to control subjects and subjects just doing squats. While the squats themselves showed some benefit too, more benefit was derived from thoppu karanam than squatting alone.

It used to be taught in schools in India, then fell out of favor as it started being used to punish children in school for bad grades or not being able to remember a chant or verse. It was used because it is believed this improves brain power and memory/learning.

And people performed it during their morning ritual puja times in India in front of a statue of Ganesh, Ganesh represents intelligence.

According to yoga texts this exercise activates the brain, balances the energy of the heart and brain, synchronizes the right and left sides of the brain improving their communication giving you a sharper mind. It also induces calmness by relaxing and balancing the two sides of the autonomic nervous system leaving one with a feeling of more energy and less stress.

It’s quick and easy to do so why not slip it in and break up a little computer time throughout your day.

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