Khechari Mudra, Release the nectar into the Throat with Tongue Lock
Khechari mudra, also known as the gesture of the tongue lock, is regarded as a very important practice in Hatha yoga, Raja yoga, and vedantic text due to its profound effect on the body and the mind. The word Khechari is derived from two separate terms of Sanskrit langauge: khe, which means ‘sky’ or ‘space’; and chari means ‘to move’. Thus the term Khechari means ‘one who moves through space’. This mudra gets this name because it produces a state of mind in which the astral body is detached from the physical body, in such a state the consciousness dwells in akasha, the space between the astral and physical bodies.
Khechari mudra is practiced to stimulate a point in the head known as Bindu, which means ‘drop’, and it lies just below the crown of the head where the Hindu brahmins keep a tuft of hair. This center is so called because of a small master gland, pituitary gland, that produces a secretion which is converted into nectar. This crude secretion drops down into a refining center into the throat, Vishuddhi chakra, where it is purified, if the nectar is not held at this point int he throat it will further drop down and be absorbed at the Swadhisthana Chakra located in the sacral spine region. These two points, bindu and the Visuddhi chakra, can be stimulated adequately by regularly practicing Khechari mudra, or the Tongue lock. The pituitary gland (bindu) is located very near to the Ajna chakra or the third eye chakra.
This will stimulate the flow of the nectar, also known as amrita. from the pituitary gland which has the potential to rejuvenate the whole body. Kabir has mentioned that all fear, disease, guilt, and ignorance are burnt away just by tasting this nectar. This gesture comes under shirsha mudras as it involves the head region of the body. It is also known as the King of all mudras as it can stimulate the master gland out of the entire endocrine system. Khechari mudra is actually a simple gesture where the tongue is rolled up and back against the upper and lower palate in the mouth cavity and locked as far back as possible, the final aim being slipping the tongue into the nasopharynx (nasal) cavity which opens into the throat beyond the Uvula, the edge of the soft palate.
The technique of Khechari mudra is slightly different as practiced in Raja yoga than how it is practice in Hatha yoga.
Khechari Mudra as Practiced in Raja Yoga
Perfecting the technique of Khechari mudra requires a lot of practice since the act of rolling the tongue up and back is not a regular and easy practice for most of the beginners. One can start with the easy version of Khechari mudra, known as Nabho mudra or the sky gesture, which is suitable for most people. Although it too takes a long time to perfect.
The tongue is folded upward and backward so that the tip of the tongue is brought as far back as possible and lies in contact with the soft upper palate. It is kept there for as long as possible , from 30 seconds to 10 or 20 minutes. Dat by day, week by week, year by year, this is done, and slowly the tongue becomes flexible and elongated to be able to enter the epiglottis. This will give the same results as are achieved by the full Hatha yoga practice of Khechari mudra described later here.
Technique of Khechari Mudra
- Sit comfortably in any meditative posture, keep the head and the spine straight, hands in chin or Jnana mudra
- Slowly close the eyes and relax the whole body
- Fold the tongue upward and backward so that its lower surface lies on contact with the upper hard palate
- Stretch the tip of the tongue backward into the mouth cavity as far as comfortable, avoid any strain, one can slightly push the tongue inwards using one’s finger
- Perform Ujjayi pranayama by breathing deeply and slowly
- Hold the tongue lock for as long as possible
At first one may feel some discomfort and the practice of Ujjayi pranayama may irritate the throat, but with practice it will become more comfortable.
When the tongue becomes tired, release and relax it, then repeat the practice. The act of fake swallowing can help slide the tongue further down to the soft palate. The initial aim is to make the tip of the tongue reach and touch the Uvula, the fleshy bag hanging over the tongue.
With consistent practice the tongue will move beyond the uvula into the nasal pharynx and reach the point where the pituitary gland is located. This contact will stimulate the master gland and one can feel saliva like liquid getting released and accumulated inside the mouth, which may initially taste bitter, an indication that toxins are being removed from the body, but will eventually begin to taste sweet.
One needs to gradually reduce the respiration rate over a period of months until the number of breaths per minutes comes down to 5, 6 or even lesser.
Physical awareness must be kept on the stretch of the tongue and the light pressure against the palate. Spiritual awareness is maintained at the Vishuddhi chakra.
Initially practice Khechari mudra for at least 5 to 10 minutes. Tongue lock gesture can also be practiced with other yoga techniques.
Khechari Mudra – Precautions & Contraindications
Too much physical impurity in the body or excess of kaphadosha, mucuous element can cause the taste of the secretion emanating from the point of contact of the tip of the tongue with the pituitary gland turn bitter. One must practice Hatha yoga and get rid of any toxins along with balancing of the dosha before starting the practice of Khechari mudra, then the secretions from the gland will not taste bitter.
One may see blood on the tip of the tongue while sliding the tongue inward into the oral cavity and upward into the nasal cavity. This must be taken as normal and not as some warning sign. Switching to low protein diet while preparing for Khechari mudra can be an asset.
Do not attempt to push the tongue to its limits on the very first attempt at Khechari mudra. Be patient as it may take some months of practice for the tongue to get elongated and flexible enough to even reach the soft palate or the Uvula. A few additional months would be required to gain enough proficiency in sliding the tip of the tongue into the nasal cavity to reach the point called Bindu.
Always begin the practice of Khechari mudra under the guidance of an experienced yoga teacher. Avoid practicing the tongue lock in case any oral ulcers or other ailments are present till these are completely healed off.
Khechari Mudra Benefits
- Practicing Khechari mudra the right way helps stimulate a number of accupressure points located in the back of the mouth and the nasal cavity which influence the whole body
- It also help massage a number of other glands, located in the oral cavity, which stimulate the secretion of a number of related hormones and saliva
- This practice reduces the sensations of hunger and thirst, and induces a state of inner calm and stillness
- It preserves the vitality of the body – rejuvenates the organs – and is specially beneficial for inner healing
- The tongue lock gesture facilitates the flow of prana between the group of chakras located above and below the throat region and can help awaken kundilini shakti
- It helps remove fatigue from the body
- It helps remove the fear of any disease, old age, and death as the body feels and becomes divine
- Khechari mudra when combined with Ujjayi pranayama is beneficial to women in labour when practiced between contractions
- Ujjayi and Khechari are also used in combination to develop awareness of the spinal and frontal psychic passages
- Its main aim is to activate the psychic, physiological, and endocrine processes responsible for cellular revitalization and longevity
- It helps heal and prevent any disorders of the salivary glands
- It helps activate the parasympathetic nervous system which reduces the heart rate leading to a relaxed state of mind
- Khechari mudra when combined with Bhrahmari pranayama helps heal hearing disorders and memory loss or dementia
- In a way the tongue lock as achieved while practicing Khecahri mudra is synonymous with shutting off the sense of speech which helps reduce the number of thoughts in the mind, thus, practicing meditation becomes a much easier process, also since this mudra restricts the breathing process it helps reduce the chances of disturbance of one-pointedness of the mind which can occur while taking an inhalation or an exhalation
- One of the hormones the secretion of which, from the pituitary gland, is stimulated by the practice of Khechari mudra is the growth hormone which helps arrest the process of ageing
- Regular practice of Khechari mudra positively impacts the secretion of hormones from the thyroid glands leading to a healthy metabolic rate of the body, this helps equal and proportional distribution of fat – weight- around the body parts,
- It helps improve one’s extra sensory perception and aid in awakening Ajna Chakra
- The drops of the nectar when descend over the tongue help remove impurities stuck to it which cures bad breath – halitosis – along with helping improve the over all dental hygiene
- It improves the sensitivity of the tongue to different taste as generated by all the 5 elements, Thus, one can easily sense the deficiency or excess of the particular element in the food being ingested by sensing the intensity of the corresponding taste it generates
- Since this Khechari mudra impacts Vishiddhi chakra – vocal cords – it helps impart a certain degree of pleasantness to the voice
- The face receives a healthy glow and one experience reduced levels of negative emotions like anger, hatred, attachments along with reducing ego and desires in the practitioner of the tongue lock mudra
- It helps one improve the reproductive energy
- Along with the other hormones this gesture also stimulate the release of dopamine which produces a state of well being in the mind of the practitioner
Effects of Khechari Mudra on Chinese Meridians
As per the concept of Chinese meridians the kidney meridian terminates at the root of the tongue and is stimulated by the tongue lock or Khechari mudra. As per Chinese medicine kidneys store the essence, corresponding to ojas in ayurveda , which controls growth, development, immunity and regeneration of the body. Kidney essence produces marrow and holds the fundamental yin and yang of the body.
The kidneys, which are yin by nature, are coupled with the urinary bladder as their yang counterpart. Both organs govern the functions of the reproductive organs, adrenal glands, and the autonomic nervous system. The kidneys act as a major controller of homeostassis in the body, ensuring physical and mental stamina, vitality and resistance. all of these functions are enhanced by practicing Khechari mudra.
The spleen meridian terminates at the root of the tongue. The spleen is the major digestive organ which transforms nutrients and helps in the production of the blood. It also maintains the upwards flow of the energy, increases awareness and lucidity of thoughts. The functions of the cerebral cortex, all organs that secrete digestive juices, and the female reproductive glands are governed by spleen.
The spleen is coupled with stomach in the yin yang relationship, therefore stimulation spreads form the spleen meridian to the stomach meridian. Due to its effect on the processes of the stomach which involve production of the heat in the body Khechari mudra practice is associated with heat production. This practice also retards the urges of hunger and thirst which are again relate to the stomach.
The liver meridian passes through the nasopharynx, the nasal part of the oral cavity where the tip of the tongue enters in the final stages of Khechari mudra, and thus is also stimulated. Live is a significant detoxifier of the body which is responsible for its purification and revitalization when stimulated with Khechari mudra. Liver also determines a person’s basic attitudes, manifesting on deep levels. Khechari mudra causes profound changes in the realm of consciousness, which have repercussions on the deeper level of the personality.
The Khechari mudra stimulates the conception meridian at the points ‘C23’ and ‘CO24’ located in the front of the throat by contracting the throat muscles. The proper flow of prana energy through this meridian ensures high vitality and resistance to diseases.
Tongue Lock as Practiced in Hatha Yoga
The Hatha yoga technique of Khechari mudra involves the gradual cutting of the fraenum (fleshy mass on the lower side of the tongue which keeps it attached to the gums) and elongation of the tongue. This technique must only be attempted after properly detoxifying the body and under the guidance of a competent yoga teacher of Khechari mudra.
This tehnique is advised only for the serious yogis who are totally dedicated to spiritual awakening and no longer involved in worldly life as cutting of the fraenum may affect swallowing making eating difficult and thus special diet is necessitated. More so it can even make the speech quite indistinct. as per Gherand Samhita, the nadi connecting the tongue and the root of the tongue, which is located underneath the tongue , is to be severed and the tip of the tongue to be moved continuously. By applying butter nd with the help of dohan kriya (milking process) it is to be pulled with iron foreceps.
With daily practice the tongue becomes elongated. Its length should be so increased that it can reach the eyebrow centre. Khechari mudra is then accomplished. In this way the tongue should be gradually inserted into the root of the palate. By folding the tongue upward and backward it should be taken right up to the nasal cavity. Keep the awareness fixed at the eyebrow centre at that time. This is Khechari mudra.
The yogis had recommended the use of root of a tree, or a sharp edged leaf like Tejpatta (Cinnamomum tamala), or rice stalk which is pure, so that their is no fear of infection later on. The cutting of the fraenum must be undertaken in gradually daily, or weekly, bit by bit and the severing should be equivalent only to the thickness of a hair, this means it should be a mere touch, aslight stroke. Care must be taken that there should be no bleeding.
It is also likely that with such gradual cutting speech impairment will be minimum. The tongue is also required to be gradually elongated by dohan kriya, the milking process. This can be achieved by two methods: outward massage ( as in milking process) of the tongue using a finger; and pulling the tongue using foreceps. In order to prevent vomiting, a pair of tongs can be used to hold the tongue firmly but gently, instead of the fingers, while executing the milking process.
Once the tongue is elongated it will require the push of the fingers to place it against the nasal cavity, gradually as it gains strength then the support of the fingers wont be necessary. At this stage the tip of the tongue can be used to direct the flow of breath in either of the nostrils, block one nostril by inserting the tip into it and let the breath flow from the other, or place the tip of the tongue at a bit lower postion at the naal cavity to allow the breath move through both the nostrils.
The elongation of the tongue may take several years of consistent practic and is recommended to start early ( around 16 years of age) in order to avoid the adverse affects of the process. Yogis who have perfected Khechari mudra gain the ability to suspend their breath for hours or days at a time. Another of the requirements for perfecting Khechari mudra is perfecting the pranayama, the rate of breathing needs to be slowed down to one inhalation and one exhaltion in a minute.
The flow and taste of nectar – Tongue Lock
Various tastes are experienced in the mouth that reflect the associated states of the body and mind. When the tongue is inserted upward and backward, a taste is experienced; juices are secreted from the taste buds located on the palate and the hole in the forehead (kapala kuhar). At first the mouth may be filled with an extremely bitter taste, Next comes an astringent taste, then salty and after that it is filled with sweet taste.
When the tongue crosses the limits of the taste glands, various tastes are secreted that cannot be described. For instance, the taste of milk or butter, which is neither sweet, nor alkaline, nor salty , nor bitter, not even sour. Thus, the experience of these other tastes, natural flavours, occurs as the glands become active. The secretion of saliva in the mouth is also gradually reduced while practicing Khehari mudra so that saliva does not constantly need to be swallowed.
The particular tastes attributed to the nectar are related to the panch tattwas. Each of the five tattwas:earth, water, fire, air, and ether, creates a particular flavour when it predominates. tattwas represent specific pranic flows associated with the pancha pranas and each can be tasted when it is active. As per the flavour, the active tattwa can be known. Earth tattwa is characterise dby a sweet flavour, water is astringent, fire is bitter, air is acidic, and ether is pungent or hot.
One must not practice Khechari mudra if one experiences a bitter taste in the mouth, continuing to practice Khechari mudra in this scenario can turn the bitterness into poison for the body. Bitterness in the taste also indicates presence of toxins and disorders in the body. One must practice Shatkarmas ( purification techniques) in order to remove these impurities before beginning to re start the practice of Khechari mudra.