Super Brain Yoga. The name grabs your attention, right? It did mine. Who doesn’t want a SuperBrain? Or a "super" anything for that matter.
To be honest, when I first heard of it, I thought it was a joke. At the very least, a SuperBrain Yoga Hoax. It might be. But some people claim positive results from this unique Eastern practice.
If you're not familiar with SuperBrain Yoga, it's another self-improvement activity that not only promises to give overachievers that extra edge, but claims to cause dramatic improvements in children with neurological disabilities, such as ADD, ADHD and autism.
To be honest, it’s a little much for me to wrap my head around. I’m a natural skeptic because let’s face it… although this website is primarily a blog about income, there are more important things than money, such as TIME.
If a practice like Super Brain Yoga can supercharge your mind, it will help you save TIME.
If not, it'll just be a waste of time.
Perhaps some sit-ups and push-ups would be a more effective way to use those 5 or 10 minutes every day.
What is Super Brain Yoga?
Revealed by Master Chao Kok Sui in his book SuperBrain Yoga (SBY), it’s an ancient Indian technique that utilizes acupressure and breathing techniques that are apparently, supposed to balance the two hemispheres of the brain and increase energy.
I say "apparently" because it’s also claimed that the actions of SuperBrain Yoga were once used as punishment in India’s schools. I’ll get more into that in a moment.
Yoga Master Choa Kok Sui, who introduced SBY to the Western world is also known for his books on Pranic Healing, such as "Pranic Crystal Healing" which, as the title suggests, teaches healing methods using the natural power of crystals.
I did say that I’m a skeptic right? That doesn’t mean I’m closed-minded. I’d love to discover this stuff actually works, but I can't say I'm a big believer in the power of crystals.
Since there are people who will exploit anything to scam people out of money, I prefer to use logic as my guide.
"Pranic Healing is a claimed energy healing system developed and promoted by Choa Kok Sui (1952-2007), a Filipino entrepreneur and philanthropist of Chinese descent. The healing modality claims that prana (energy) can heal ailments in the body by contributing to the person's energy field. Sui has also stated that pranic healing is like acupuncture and yoga in that it treats the "energy body" which in turn affects the "physical body".
Writing in the Times of India, Rajesh Parajapati, a student of Pranic Healing claims: "The primary principle of pranic healing is utilising the inherent energy prana or energy of life in all beings for self-healing." – Wikipedia Pranic Healing
Whether or not Pranic Healing is a hoax or not is topic for another post. Whether or not SuperBrain Yoga is a hoax, however, that's a question we will dive a little deeper into.
Super Brain Yoga Instructions (14 Steps)
Does Super Brain Yoga Work?
For the moment, let’s classify Super Brain Yoga as a form of mediation, since the activity and claimed benefits are similar.
The benefits of meditation are not imaginary.
According to the NCCIH (National Center For Complimentary and Integrative Health),
“Some research suggests that meditation may physically change the brain and body and could potentially help to improve many health problems and promote healthy behaviors.” – NCCIH.NIH.GOV Meditation
To get a better idea of what’s going on here, and why some people report positive results, we need to understand the physiological effects of this stress-reducing activity.
The obvious explanation is that those who try SuperBrain Yoga and honestly believe it, are experiencing a placebo effect. It works because they THINK it works.
A 2015 Huffington Post article explains the placebo effect.
“Recent research on the placebo effect indicates that for many people, the simple act of believing (a mental condition) a therapy or medication will increase their health or eliminate disease is sufficient to create physical improvements in their body. This implies that our thoughts are not simply making us feel better, but they can change our brain and physiology.”
Neuroscientists and researchers have struggled to come up with a conclusive theory as to why the placebo effect exists.
One potential hypothesis is that those who “think” they are being healed, or made well, experience a significant reduction in stress. When they receive treatment, there is a feeling of relief, which leads to better-regulated body chemistry and an improved state.
They feel better.
Stress occurs when we are threatened. There is an evolutionary reason for this. When we experience immediate danger, a car accident, for example, the region of our brain called the hypothalamus triggers a response in our adrenal glands. Our adrenal glands release cortisol and adrenaline into our bodies, which causes the liver to increase sugar production.
You've more than likely been in a threatening situation, and you know how quickly the process happens. The release of these hormones, increased sugar levels and a quicker heart rate gives us superhuman powers so to speak.
Like "The Flash", time appears to crawl. Seconds seem like minutes, and we become aware of every important detail surrounding us. We calculate trajectories, almost predicting the future and our bodies react at speeds not possible under normal conditions.
In some cases, people have lifted entire cars off of people.
There is a dark side to these superpowers, however. Cortisol, one of the hormones responsible for this “fight or flight” mode, can be toxic to the body if unregulated.
In the case of a car accident, the immediate threat passes quickly. Within seconds, the accident is over. Hormone levels stabilize, and the bodies stress-response-system returns to normal. (provided there are no serious injuries)
But the release of these hormones does NOT ONLY occur when we are in danger.
Threats can be both real (such as the car coming straight at you), or perceived, such as the fear of losing your job or being unable to pay your bills.
When people are stressed, they live with perceived danger. Not necessarily physical danger, but the fear that something is threatening their present state. This causes sustained levels of unregulated cortisol which literally wreaks havoc on the body. It interferes with immune system function, inhibits the uptake of amino acids required to build and repair our bodies, and causes increased blood pressure as just a few examples.
It also causes problems with the digestive system, production of thyroid hormones, and makes us more sensitive to the effects of other chemicals in our bodies.
The result is that we are more susceptible to things like depression and anxiety, heart disease, sleep and digestive problems, weight gain (or loss), memory impairment and the inability to focus.
“The body's stress-response system is usually self-limiting. Once a perceived threat has passed, hormone levels return to normal. As adrenaline and cortisol levels drop, your heart rate and blood pressure return to baseline levels and other systems resume their regular activities.
But when stressors are always present, and you constantly feel under attack, that fight-or-flight reaction stays turned on.
The long-term activation of the stress-response system — and the subsequent overexposure to cortisol and other stress hormones — can disrupt almost all your body's processes. This puts you at increased risk for numerous health problems.” – Mayo Clinic - Stress-Management
Perceived vs. Immediate Threats
When a threat is NOT immediate... not happening now at this very second, then it's simply a perceived threat (meaning your perception of it is distorted by what you believe “could” happen). That doesn’t mean it’s not a legitimate threat; it just means you are adding your own personal biases to it.
If the threat is not NOW, then it's only a thought. (regardless of how real it feels)
And if you are generally a positive person, your perception (your thought) of the situation will be different than someone who turns everything into a crisis.
A perceived threat is the fear of future outcomes, but the physical effects caused by your stress-response-system occur at the moment the stress is experienced. The moment that you feel fear is rarely during the time of occurrence. This is important.
In other words, if you’re continuously stressed, or worried about future (or past) events, you are triggering a physical response that has no relevance to the present moment. Your body is responding to an emergency that doesn’t exist.
Stress and the Placebo Effect
Pain and illness are also considered to be perceived threats. Although they may be present in the moment, the actual threat is what the eventual outcome will be.
How long will the pain last? Will this illness keep me from working? And then what? If that happens, then this other thing could happen. And if that happens… and so on.
When a placebo is given (for pain or illness), however, and the patient “believes” the threat has been reduced or eliminated, their stress-response-system returns to normal. All of the worrisome outcomes disappear, or, at the very least get minimized.
Stress goes down, they become more relaxed, and as a result, they feel better.
That means the simple “power of belief” is, in an indirect way, having a REAL effect on the body.
This is one reason that stress-reducing activities such as yoga and meditation can dramatically improve our bodies and our minds, strengthen our immune systems and normalize bodily functions.
Now, there is no definitive research on why placebo’s work the way they do, however, the correlation between the belief that tomorrow is going to be okay (the reduction of stress), and the stress-response-system returning to a healthier state could be (in part), responsible.
Is This What's Happening During SBY?
Super Brain Yoga and Pranic Healing also harness the power of belief.
Is it a stretch to assume that those who report positive results are doing so because they are experiencing dramatic reductions in stress, and their body chemistry is returning to a healthy state?
Or is there something mystical going on here?
Acupressure and Breathing.
Since Super Brain Yoga utilizes both acupressure and breathing techniques, is it possible these are responsible for the energizing effects?
The benefits of proper breathing are well documented.
A 2015 Harvard article condenses this extensive topic nicely into a single paragraph,
“Deep abdominal breathing encourages full oxygen exchange — that is, the beneficial trade of incoming oxygen for outgoing carbon dioxide. Not surprisingly, it can slow the heartbeat and lower or stabilize blood pressure.” – Harvard
Of course, breathing practices can do much more, such as improve focus and mental alertness, build cardiac strength, and even potentially lead to some superhuman abilities according to the Wim Hoff Method.
The benefits of acupressure are not quite as clear. While I haven’t had experience with it myself, I have friends that swear by it. I'd like to believe acupressure works (and maybe I could benefit from it). There’s certainly enough evidence and testimony to suggest that it's an effective treatment.
There is, however, Western skepticism.
“Not all Western practitioners believe (acupressure) works, that this is possible or even that these meridians exist. Instead, they attribute any results to other factors, such as reduced muscle tension, improved circulation, or stimulation of endorphins, which are natural pain relievers.” – WebMD
Whatever your thoughts are on breathing exercises and acupressure techniques, the benefits of SuperBrain Yoga (if there are any), are probably a result of those better-understood practices. The meditative effects and momentary stress reduction also help.
Super Brain Yoga as a Punishment
“The punishment known in Ghanaian language Ga as "mi toe wa minuu nii" (which translates to "I am stubborn and I don't listen to advice") is an exercise referred to as Superbrain Yoga or the Calisthenics of the Brain and three minutes of it has been found to improve brain power among its practitioners.” – Ghanaweb – Primary School Punishment Found To Increase Intelligence
I’m not convinced that SuperBrain Yoga as a punishment helps children. It’s convenient to think the activities we administer to our children are good for them, but as someone with two daughters and lot of parenting books, I’ve learned that’s not necessarily the case.
The article references the research of Dr. Joie P. Jones of the Dept. of Radiological Sciences at the University of California. According to Dr. Jones, the effects of SuperBrain Yoga are real.
However, I found a dozen articles making this claim and using Dr. Jones as proof, but I could not find any real sources for Dr. Jones' findings.
I did find the following information from the University of California, but no mention of SuperBrain Yoga.
"Dr. Jones has pioneered many new developments in ultrasonic imaging, ultrasonic tissue characterization, and acoustical microscopy."
People usually resist punishment. I think (although I don’t know) that resistance would negate the beneficial effects, if there are any, of using SBY to punish children.
I think the best way to find out if Super Brain Yoga works is to give it a try. I might even do it myself.
As I said, I’m a skeptic, but I’m not closed-minded. And, if I can find something (safe and legal) that makes me more effective in the pursuit of my goals, then why not take advantage of it.
My gut tells me it’s a hoax, though. A scam to sell books to Westerners, but who knows. If my gut were right all the time, I’d be a billionaire today, and I can say with certainty that I’m not. 😀
Please leave a comment below; I’d love to hear your thoughts. Do You Practice SuperBrain Yoga? If you do give it a try, stop by and share your results and opinions.
If you found this article useful, or think it might be helpful for others… Please share.