Mindfulness and Presence
Superbrain Yoga: Description and Benefits
THC Editorial Team August 11, 2022
- What Is the History of Superbrain Yoga?
- How Does Superbrain Yoga Work?
- How to Perform Superbrain Yoga
- The Potential Benefits and Effectiveness of Superbrain Yoga
- Summary/Key Takeaways
Superbrain yoga is a holistic, somatic (i.e., bodily] technique used to enhance brain function, improve mood, and promote health. It is particularly popular as a method of improving school children’s cognitive function and performance.1 The technique of superbrain yoga involves crossing the arms, holding one’s earlobes, pressing the tongue against the roof of the mouth, and performing 10 to 21 squats while controlling the breath.1
In addition to strengthening general cognitive performance, the practice appears to have gained some following as a method to help people with neurodevelopment disorders, such as learning disorders, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and autism and is promoted at several schools and institutions as a potential complementary method to help with improved academic performance.1
According to renowned personal improvement coach Jack Canfield, superbrain yoga is a simple exercise that can help people feel “smarter, more psychologically integrated, calmer, more creative… and more energized.”2 Some practitioners combine superbrain yoga with other holistic, somatic modalities, such as EFT [emotional freedom techniques] tapping.3
What Is the History of Superbrain Yoga?
Superbrain yoga combines mindful movement and controlled breathing exercises. Mindful movement practices, such as yoga and conscious breathing techniques, have been around for thousands of years and have been used for personal development and enhanced well-being.
According to some researchers, ancient Indian scholars developed the technique used in superbrain yoga based on ear acupressure and acupuncture and forms of energy medicine, including chakras and prana (universal healing) energy.4 Within energy therapy, chakras are concentrated energy centers throughout the human body.5 The practice resembles and may draw from Thoppukaranam, a “form of penance to the Hindu god, Ganesha,” and a type of school punishment known as uthak baithak.1
The term “superbrain yoga” appears to have been popularized by writer and spiritual teacher Master Choa Kok Sui, its primary promoter.6 Sui published a book on the topic in 2005.7
How Does Superbrain Yoga Work?
According to Sui, superbrain yoga increases “one’s brain power by harnessing the body’s primordial energies.”7 Proponents further suggest that superbrain yoga enhances the “qualitative and quantitative pranic energy… in the brain” by promoting the better movement of prana/energy through the body’s chakras.4
Superbrain yoga is also based on ear acupressure and acupuncture and a technique called auriculotherapy, an alternative treatment modality that views the ear as a representation of the entire body. Proponents of these practices believe that by pressing the earlobes, the left and right hemispheres of the brain are activated.4 The squatting action in the practice is meant to “transmute the energy that is trapped in the lower chakra to the upper chakras.”8
How to Perform Superbrain Yoga
While there are variations among the descriptions provided by different authors of how to perform superbrain yoga,1 it is generally described as being practiced as follows:7,9
- Remove any jewelry.
- Face east, if you know where it is. For older people/the elderly, face north.
- Roll your tongue inward and press it firmly on the roof of your mouth.
- Raise your left arm in front of you. It is important that your left arm be raised first.
- Fold at the elbow and reach for your right earlobe.
- Hold your right earlobe with your left hand so that the thumb is on the outside and two fingers are on the inside, behind the ear.
- Extend your right arm in front of you.
- Fold at the elbow and reach for your left earlobe. The right arm will cross over the left one.
- Position your thumb and forefinger in the same manner as on the right earlobe.
- Inhale deeply through your nose and simultaneously squat down gently to a sitting position, with your arms positioned as above. No chair is required; just squat. If you can go down almost to floor level, that is best.
- If possible, hold the position for two or three seconds.
- Exhale gently and rise to a standing position as you are exhaling.
- Repeat steps 10–12 fourteen to twenty-one times.7
- Release your grip on your ears, place your arms loose by your sides, and remove your tongue from the roof of your mouth.
According to Sui, superbrain yoga can be practiced two to three times per day; however, over-practicing may have disadvantages.7
The Potential Benefits and Effectiveness of Superbrain Yoga
Studies demonstrating the effectiveness of superbrain yoga are limited, and most findings of positive outcomes are primarily anecdotal.1
Despite limited research, proponents of this technique believe that superbrain yoga may provide the following benefits:4,7
- improved academic performance
- improved short-term memory
- increased academic participation
- improved selective attention
- improved state and trait mindfulness
- improved cognitive functioning
- improved confidence
- improved concentration
- reductions in state anxiety
- improved behavior
- greater calm and focus in children with autism
- improved focus and social skills in children with ADHD
Superbrain yoga, drawing from mindful movement techniques, acupressure theory, and conscious breathing techniques, may provide several benefits for individuals. While research on the practice is limited and benefits are primarily anecdotal, superbrain yoga’s simplicity and ease of application make it an attractive complementary technique that can be used by many people, particularly school children and those with attentional challenges such as ADHD.