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Elementary School punishment or Super Brain Yoga


Super-brain Yoga! Yes, that’s the name of this yoga routine that we were asked to do as punishment in our early school days back in India. I wrote about it in my May newsletter.

Recently I received an email from a friend on the same topic. In this email was enclosed an article about the practice. I am not sure who the original author of the article is. However, since I thought the article was well written with lots of valuable information, I decided to publish it as a blog post.

If you know who the author is, please do let me know so I can acknowledge the person on the blog. Here is the article… (with only minor editorial changes). 

Please read the complete article before you watch the video – it will give you the proper context.

Folks, especially the seniors who grew up in India (or Uganda or Kenya), you might remember the days when you were in elementary school and, if you misbehaved or failed to do your assigned homework, the teacher would punish you by telling you to do a certain number of what we used to call in Gujarati "uth bess"” or “uthak bethak,”  or squats – crossing your arms and holding your left ear lobe with your right  thumb and forefinger and right ear lobe with your left thumb and forefinger. Well, in case you didn’t know, that “punishment” has now become a must-do exercise and (I think it was three or four years ago) has officially been “patented” by Master Choa Kok Sui (more about him later) as Super Yoga in America and many other parts of the world.   

Many doctors, medical researchers of prestigious universities (e.g. Yale), physical therapists, occupation therapists, teachers and others claim that the so-called exercise has excellent “cognitive” benefits. A number of studies have shown that this regimen can be very beneficial to children with disabilities such as ADHD/ADD, developmental and cognitive delays, Down syndrome and specific learning disabilities. Children studied showed significant increase in academic and behavioral performance, greater class participation and improved social skills.

A few months ago I stumbled upon an interesting article in one of the three health newsletters I subscribe to that about this simple regimen that can be very beneficial to restore your memory. So I started doing the regimen twice a day, once in the morning before I do my meditation and once in the evening when I do my 30 minute yoga before I go for my 2.3-mile brisk walk. Now I have read a couple of more articles about the benefits of “""uth bess""” (in Tamil, “Pillayar Thoppukarnam,” a kind of a routine many people do when they do Ganesh puja). Most people, including Chandu Radia, worry about deterioration of their memory as they age and many studies say that it is a very valid concern. In fact, according to the couple of articles I read about aging, studies have shown that more than half the people age in their late 60’s, 70’s and 80’s have at least some memory loss and about 15 to 18% develop more serious problems with their memory. But all these studies also say that there are ways to save your aging brain from loss of memory. Actually, they say that around the time we hit early 30’s our brains begin a slow but steady downward trajectory. But the good news is that according most new studies, you can counteract age related changes in your brain with a surprisingly simple regimen of activities to “fortify,” so to speak, your mental muscle power. The "uth bess" or Super Yoga, as it is now called, simple as it is, is perhaps the most effective technique to “fuel” and sustain the healthy brain.     

We all know that human brain is truly amazing – even more sophisticated than your computer or iPad or anything else – because it gives us a powerful potential. They say that a baby is born into the world with around 100 billion – yes, a BILLION – or so brain cells, give or take a few million. But to make the most of one’s brain, the studies say that it needs to be exercised and nurtured like every other part of the human system. It is very important to the necessary regimen as you age (but even during childhood) for the brain to stay alert and healthy throughout your aging days. Many nurses, physicians and other health professionals these days use this ""uth bess"" or Super Brain Yoga to improve health of some of their patients while educators and therapists use it as an intervention to support student success. Whether young or old, all stages and ages can use Super Brain Yoga as a simple and effective technique to not only enhance wellbeing but also to ensure a happy and productive life as we age.

Some people claim that the technique was developed a guy by a Phillipino guy, Master Choa Kok Sui who studied a wide range of healing arts (notably at a time when they were not yet validated as sciences), including pranayama, and gained a level of knowledge on the subject matter of brain health. He studied under spiritual guides, who themselves were spiritually advanced and extraordinarily powerful healers, and whose guidance were inevitably crucial to the development of Modern Pranic healing. He has authored various books, including the one about Super Brain Yoga where he talks about this technique many of us know as ""uth bess"".  

Having said that, now let us talk a little bit about regimen ""uth bess"" itself. The “correspondence” of the ear to the whole body was long ago recognized by not only the ancient Chinese acupuncturists but also by the great rishis (teachers) of India who, in fact, are the ones who developed this technique to increase people’s intelligence. Now we know it worked because it was based on the principle of ear acupuncture. As I said earlier this simple exercise regimen offers many benefits to adults seeking brain wellness into their senior years, and patients with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Attention Deficit Hyperacticity Disorder (ADHD), Down Syndrome, and other developmental challenges and cognitive delays. So, how exactly does  this simple regimen help the brain? Well, the simple exercise allows/helps the body’s energy centers to absorb, digest and distribute prana to the different parts of the body – brain, eyes, forehead, mouth, ovary, temple etc. by pressure from the exercise. They say that it also gives greater psychological stability to the mind. This is briefly what some of the articles said:

  • The right ear lobe corresponds to the left brain.
  • The left ear lobe corresponds to the right brain.

So, now let us discuss some of the details of the actual exercise: When the right ear lobe is gently squeezed with the left thumb and left index finger with the thumb outside, it produces the necessary energy connection. Similarly, when the left ear lobe is gently squeezed with the right thumb and right index finger with the thumb outside, it produces the necessary energy connection and, it is rather difficult for me to explain but it says that this “…causes the right brain and pineal gland to become energized and the activated connection causes the left brain and pituitary gland to become energized and activated.” It also says that “…..for energizing and activating the Left Brain and the Right Brain, Get it? The correct arm position is important for energizing and activating the brain. The whole exercise routine will take less than three minutes! Briefly, then:

  • Left arm must be inside, while the right arm must be outside (over the left arm)
  • Facing the correct direction (some say north, others say east (I guess any is OK)
  • Positioning the fingers properly (thumb in the front and the index finger behind the ear lobe)
  • Breathing correctly (inhale when squatting down and exhale while getting up from the squat
  • Connect your tongue to your palate
  • Do at least 20 to 25 squats in the morning and the same number in the evening

I probably said more than you wanted to know but, then, what is new, right? 

Now turn on your speakers, click open the link below and watch this 5-minute video which was on CBS News a couple of years ago. There are a number of other videos about the exercise itself. You will see the list on the right when you turn on the video.

37 comments to Elementary School punishment or Super Brain Yoga

  • Meera Krishnamachary

    Coincidentally,I have started doing this as part of my yoga practice..

    • Subhash

      Great to hear from you, Meera. I am so glad to see that you are maintaining your yoga practice and have added this “superbrain yoga” to your routine. All the best.

  • sumansrinivasan

    its a very beneficial information you have given, more than the punishment aspect of it, one should understand that prostration to Lord Ganesh in this fashion, would mean kindling of cognitive abilities and asking for memory power and progress in education.

    • Subhash

      Dear Suman, that is a beautiful thought – thanks for sharing. Even though I only remember it as a primary school punishment, I am sure it must have come down from the yoga tradition. The teachers also, not knowing the background, were actually helping us build better memory and sharpening our cognitive abilities. Even from a pure physical viewpoint, it is a great routine for the health of the ankles, knees and especially the thighs (quads).

  • Importance of touching the tip of the tongue with the roof of the mouth is not mentioned. It is a khechri Mudra. This has many advantages. According to Taoist yoga, it circulates awareness around the microcosmic orbit. Google microcosmic orbit to know the details.

    • Dear Dalsukh, thanks for mentioning the Khechari mudra. I am not sure how and when you’d apply this mudra during the SuperBrain yoga routine. Can you please elaborate? Thanks.

  • ajay

    it is so funny right. i thought it was practiced just to punish the students who got low marks but never thought that it was just to activate their mind.indians were really great

  • Huble student of Master Choa Kok Sui

    “Kechari Mudra” is just fold your toungue and touch to the smooth area of the palate up….little back that’s it. Excellent… It helps to expand you energy body…

    “Pranic Healing” could clear sveral of my doubts

    Thanks to GURU

    Huble student of Master Choa Kok Sui

  • Vani

    This posture is called ganapati namaskara. In temple, we see people doing this posture in front of ganesha idol asking for memory power and good education.

    I would like to share the procedure which I learnt in yoga class
    1. Face East. If you are married, face north.
    2. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart.
    3. Squeeze the right ear lobe with the left thumb and left index finger with the thumb outside
    4. Squeeze the left ear lobe with the right thumb and right index finger with the thumb outside
    5. The left arm must be inside and the right arm outside
    6. Connect your tongue to the palate (Kechari mudra)
    7. Invoke for divine blessings – Om Gam Ganapataye namah (Optional)
    8. Inhale when squatting down.
    9. Exhale while getting up.
    10. Repeat steps 8 and 9.
    Children below 7 years old – 7 times
    Children below 14 years old – 14 times
    Above 14 years – 21 times
    11. Release your fingers from ear lobe, observe your breath and relax.

    Practice yoga for eternal happiness 🙂

  • Rizwan Khan

    Sir, Initially i found this entire funny, as it is used as punishment in our schools.

    Can u please tell me, Can murgha punishment be used a Yoga for body or brain? it is sort of forward bending? can u please highlight this murgha

    • Dear Rizwan, in this exercise we hold the left earlobe with the right hand and the right earlobe with the left hand. Then we repeatedly sit down to a squat and come up straight again. So, there is not a forward stretch but more a work for the knees, thighs, ankles, abdomen etc. Moreover, recent studies have shown that it also enhances brain function, memory and develops a sense of calm in the mind.

  • archana

    Ganapathi Namaskara should be done 21 only. Why 21?

  • Sakshi

    SIr tell me that what are good points in murga punishment,is it good for ladies to reduce weight?I am trying this for last 2 day?Sir can u tell?

    • Hello Sakshi, I am assuming that by murga punishment you are referring to the super brain yoga that is discussed in this article. Yes, this routine is definitely helpful for both men and women. It can help in reducing weight if done on a regular basis for an adequate length of time. Try to build up your capacity to do about 15-20 rounds. Hope this helps.

    • vijaya

      sakshi, now a days many married girls/ladies do murga yoga regularly for 10/15/20 minutes daily one or two times .

  • devan

    i am also doing daily 50 sit up by holding both ear with opposite hand. this helps me a lot and also remember past days….

    its helpful to all body..
    1st my teacher forced me to do so. its very harsh…but now i like to do in front of all

  • anu

    Found this yoga very interesting. I have a 4 year old daughter. Has problems in focusing. I want to teach her this exercise but unfortunately she doesn’t know how to inhale and exhale. Is there any other yoga for brain. Can you please help?

    • Dear Anu, I suggest you continue to encourage your daughter to establish this practice on a regular basis even if she is not able to maintain the proper breathing rhythm. She will learn proper breathing in due course of time. I am pretty sure she will begin to feel the benefits right away.

  • […] Elementary School punishment or Super Brain Yoga | Yoga … – Super-brain Yoga! Yes, that’s the name of this yoga routine that we were asked to do as punishment in our early school days back in India…. […]


    The tamil Pullayar Thoppukaranam is same in Kerala “Ganapathikku Ethamidal”

    Legs must be crossed like in the utube video.(not parallal)…..

  • sarika

    hello subhash sir and other yogis,
    would like to share my two cents to the practice. just be careful with your knees when youth do the super brain yoga or uthak bethak. it can be strenuous for some of you are not careful of how wide your knees get splayed out or if you get your knees close to reach other with feet placed apart.

    I also have a question, why left hand to right ear and vice versa? why not left hand to left ear and right hand to right ear?


  • L.Chari


    In South India, this is a way of worshipping Lord Ganesha & is called “Thoppukarnam”. It is believed that the Lord helps us if we pray in this fashion. Even elders who can bend do this.Of course it is also a form of punishment- teachers do not touch pupils so cant be blamed.

  • Jerry

    Hello Subbash, I’ve read that more than fourteen squats is not recommended. Do you know why?

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