We may be used to the practice of 'Thoppukaranam', especially as part of worship of the elephant-headed deity, Lord Ganesha. Thopukaranam is done by holding both earlobes between the thumb and index fingers, with the hands crossed in front of the chest, and performing repetitive squats.
This ancient yogic practice is designed to activate, energize and strengthen the brain cells. It was commonly practiced in Indian schools as a punishment for lethargy, laziness and not memorizing, or to improve brain power.
Do you know that according to Chinese acupuncture therapy and Indian ayurveda, the earlobe is believed to contain energy points which correspond to the head?
In auricular therapy (ear acupuncture), the ear is believed to correspond to the whole body in the shape of an inverted fetus curled in the womb, and the earlobe stands for the head.
Meanwhile, in yoga, thopukaranam is known as a dynamic paripurna utkatasana - a full squat with hands holding the earlobes in a crossed position.
Although the thopukaranam is nothing new to Indians, especially Hindus, let's learn the detailed and correct way to do this beneficial exercise.
1. Cross both your arms in front of your chest.
2. Your right arm must go over your left and both hands must be raised towards the opposing ears.
3. Your thumb must go on the front of your earlobe, while the index finger, on the back. Do not press hard on the lobes, a gentle squeeze would do.
4. Inhale and exhale gently. Inhale while bending your knees and lowering your hops into a squatting position.
5. Keep both knees parallel and do not exceed toe level during the bend. This is to avoid putting burden on your knees during this repeated movement.
6. Exhale and get back to standing position.
7. This exercise is best done 18, 108 or 1008 times.
Now, let’s look into the benefits of thopukaranam:
- According to researches, thopukaranam is believed to increase alpha waves (brain waves that help one calm down and promote feelings of relaxation and content) immediately, after this method is performed for just 1 minute. Since this method involves squeezing the earlobes, pressing the left earlobe activates the right brain and energizes the corresponding pituitary gland, and vice-versa.
- Thopukaranam also stretches vital veins and nerves in the spinal cord which connect to the brain, which multiplies brain power.
- Performing thopukaranam daily gives a practitioner an excellent level of tranquility and mental strength.
- Thopukaranam also increases one's thinking power, concentration, reduces anxiety and stress, and also provides a fresh mindset.
- Thopukaranam strengthens the thighs hip flexors, calves, ankles and back muscles of the practitioner.
- It is also one of the most effective poses to lower your centre of gravity for stability, and a great remedy for flat feet.
Now, let's challenge yourself with a 18 or 108 thopukaranam today!
Nizha Periaswamy is a yoga instructor and freelance writer.
Photo source: blog.therexportal.com