Exercise for Memory–call it yoga if you will

In our daily rituals, a Hindu prays to Lord Ganesha, the elephant headed God by crossing their arms and holding the ear lobes between the tips of the fore and middle finger; next they bend their knees and get up–doing this three times. This prayer is called thoppu karanam.

The karanam are the 108 key transitional movements that are used in Bharata Natyam and other classical Indian dances. Most of these 108 Karanas have a central, static pose as a base, i.e. the dancer is usually supposed to stop and maintain it for a very brief duration (0.5 sec). Typically the pose of Lord Siva with his leg raised is a popular karanam.

This ritual has been used by teachers in India to punish their students when they were acting up or refused to learn….and this was not restricted to three.

In fact it is also associated with obedience and the joke was when a husband transgressed he would do this in front of his wife asking her to count out loud.

Now modern science has discovered what our ancients knew–that this exercise is great for memory and brain development. Read on:

In this video, a teacher, doctor, neurobiologist, occupational therapist, and parent discuss how one easy exercise:

  • Stimulates neural pathways via acupressure points in the earlobes
  • Synchronises the right and left side of the brain to improve function and promote calmness
  • Sharpens intelligence in seniors, juniors, mums, dads and kids
  • Helps those with autism, Asperger’s syndrome, learning difficulties and behavioural problems
  • Is fast and simple to do – takes just 1 to 3 minutes a day
  • Benefits anyone of any age

Exercise Instructions

Make sure you are wearing comfortable clothing and have removed any ear jewellery before starting.

Avoid doing the exercise immediately after eating.

Step One: Stand with your feet about shoulder distance apart, toes pointing forward.

Step Two: Hold your right ear lobe between your left thumb and finger, with the thumb on the outside of the lobe (we’re not joking).

Step Three: Hold your left ear lobe between your right thumb and finger, again with you thumb on the outside of the lobe. You should now be holding both earlobes with your arms crossed over your chest, right arm on top (and we’re still not joking).

Step Four: Look directly ahead and commence doing a body squat by slowly bending your knees and lowering your body toward the floor. Go as low as you comfortably can and then slowly raise yourself back to a standing position. Exhale as you squat and inhale as you stand.

Step Five: Repeat the squats for 1 to 3 minutes, or 14 – 21 times, while continuing to hold your earlobes.

  • Results may be immediate or gradual.
  • Concentration should certainly be stronger within 3 weeks.
  • The exercise only needs to be done once a day but if concentration wanes it can be repeated as often as desired.

In or Out?

Some groups swear by the ’squat and exhale’ approach while others insist it has to be, ’squat and inhale’ (as recommended in the video).

As both claim their breathing technique works, either is probably fine.

We have placed the squat and exhale method in our written instructions as an alternative to the video recommendation.

It is also consistent with the principles of yoga where the breath is expelled with chest compression and inhaled with chest expansion.

The bottom line is, use the approach that works best for you.

For the Committed

Some say the exercise is more effective if done while facing east (where the sun rises) with the tongue pressed firmly into the roof of the mouth – a tip no stranger than being told to hang on to your earlobes!

Why Wait?

So, with an exercise this easy why not commit to giving your brain a regular workout?

Just hold those ears and bend the knees for a few minutes each day to have clearer thinking and a sharper memory.

About padmum

You could call me Dame Quixote! I tilt at windmills. I have an opinion on most matters. What I don't have, my husband Raju has in plenty. Writer and story teller, columnist and contributer of articles, blogs, poems, travelogues and essays to Chennai newspapers, national magazines and websites, I review and edit books for publishers and have specialized as a Culinary Editor and contributed content, edited and collaborated on Cookbooks. My other major interest used to be acting on Tamil and English stage, Indian cinema and TV. I am a wordsmith, a voracious reader, crossword buff and write about India's heritage, culture and traditions. I am interested in Vedanta nowadays. I am now an Armchair traveller/opinionator/busybody!
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19 Responses to Exercise for Memory–call it yoga if you will

  1. Rummuser says:

    When two youngsters together are mischievous, the teacher would also ask them to do a double thopukkaranam. That is, one fellow will hold the other fellow’s ears with crossed arms and the other fellow will reciprocate. They will be then asked to sit down and rise in tandem. Each will be asked to recite so that the whole class can hear the mantra “Ennal nee kettai, unnal naan ketten” translated to I spoilt you and you spoilt me.

    Our father was a great believer in this punishment. He would ask us to keep doing it till he told us to stop if we could not answer his questions on multiplication tables. The fact that I do not need to use a calculator today can be attributed to his ways. At that time of course it was torture, but I suppose many of these things are understood only in retrospect. Wisdom by hindsight!


  2. Grannymar says:

    I’ll give it a go. If my knees seize up please send help to unlock them! Five minutes while the dinner is in the oven will do nicely!


  3. Conrad says:

    I will need to try this! It is tempting to be a wiseacre and add “… if I remember.”

    But, I am never a wisacre.


  4. Sleven says:

    There are noticible changes but I can’t explain them.After 2 heart attacks, this is the best exercise.This exercise serves a lot more than the mind.So easy So effective!
    Thank You


  5. cbdmdr says:

    What if you can’t do a squat?


  6. Pingback: Wow Education Rewards | Memory: tips and facts

  7. jainu says:

    i too will try …..thanku


  8. Beth says:

    Has there been any feedback on people who have had strokes? My husband lost his ability to read and his right peripheral vision-wondering if this would help?


  9. punchaw says:

    First, to padmum: Here is the research on this exercise http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4097921/. I have been doing this “Yoga” for a week, and I have definitely felt a difference. I was more than skeptical, but also somewhat intrigued. I found a small study, not definitive, but supportive of the practice. I exercise regularly, so I am giving it a try.


  10. Is it ok if I do it 108 time per day, in the morning?


  11. Pingback: Batu Caves’ Hindu Temples Visit – Museum Volunteers, JMM

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