Many are familiar with the nauli, the belly churning Kriya
Perhaps not so familiar, and on a rock further down the river, I recently discovered the great and renowned tongue yogis of Ber-ksh-ire.
Below is rare footage indeed of the advanced series kriya, Tongue nauli
More tongue nauli from the Intermediate series
Ok, so just a bit of fun to show off my colleagues and their remarkable talents.
However, perhaps it's interesting to reflect on the role of the tongue in our practice
In the eight limbs of Ashtanga...
YAMAS / NIYAMAS
we find mindfulness of speech in the yamas
1. Ahimsa (अहिंसा): Nonviolence. Abstinence from injury; harmlessness, the not causing of pain to any living creature in thought, word, or deed at any time
2. Satya (सत्य): truthfulness, word and thought in conformity with the facts.
...and in the 10 traditional Niyamas
Japa: recitation, chanting mantras daily;
Svādhyāya: study of the Vedic scriptures (remember it was and often still is an oral tradition)
we clearly have the advanced series tongue vinyasas above as well as simhasana, lion face,
As S points out in comments there is also Khechari Mudra, Traditionally this involved cutting the frenulum a hairs width at a time, week by week, for three years. I've heard too that it is possible to take a kinder approach where you stretch the tongue back towards your soft pallet for a period of time each day. S. writes in the comments
"There is another very important tongue action in yoga - Khechari Mudra. I have learned mine with Shri Shailendra Sharma in India. It is achieved by the series of special kriyas rather than cutting the base of the tongue. I can't say it was totally painless but it worked fine".
See the comments for a second comment from S with more details on this.
Also, by coincidence, I just recived Shandor Remete's book Shadow Yoga, Charya Yoga. This book was recommended to me in comments to previous posts in relation to the Ten Vayus and also the Eight Marmas. Opening it at work this morning I find on page 55, a chapter on....The Tongue (page 56). More on this soon.
Interesting book by the way and some wonderful illustrations.
See the Pranayama techniques Sitali, mentioned below. In the approach Ramaswami describes, the tongue is folded back at the end of the inhalation....
"fold the tongue, and touch the top of the upper palate, even the uvula if possible, This is called jivha bandha".
Here's Krishnamacharya writing on the traditional approach in his Yoga Makaranda of 1938.
"After first learning the yoga marmas with the help of a sat guru who is still practicing this, cut 1/12 of one angula measure (width of one hair ) of the thin seed of skin at the bottom of the tongue with a sharp knife. Apply a well-powdered paste of sainthava lavanam salt (rock salt) on the area of the cut. Rub cows butter on both sides of the tongue, and holding the tip of the tongue with a small iron tong, pull the tongue out carefully, little by little. Repeat this pulling (the pulling) every day. once a week, as mentioned above, cut the seed of flesh at the base of the tongue very carefully. practice this for three years. the tongue will lengthen and will easily be able to touch the middle of the eyebrows. After it lengthens this much, fold it inside the mouth, keep it in the cavity which is alongside the base of the inner tongue and fix the gaze on the mid brow". Krishnamacharya Yoga Makaranda. p47
"1. Sit in a comfortable asana.
2. Curl the tongue into a roll, protrude it and inhale through the wet tongue.
3. At the end of the inhalation, release the curl, fold the tongue, and touch the top of the upper palate, even the uvula if possible, This is called jivha bandha.
4. Then stretch the back of the neck, drop the chin to around three inches below the neck pit, forming kantha bandha.
5. After Kumbhaka (retention) exhale through alternate nostrils (or both and visualise alternating).
6. Repeat wetting the tongue (before inhalation) -the air conditioning pranayama"
Srivatsa Ramaswami : Yoga for the Three Stages of Life p209
The withdrawal of the senses would include that of taste
Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi we may employ the chanting of mantra
Here's Ramaswami again
"The meditation or chanting of the mantra would be referred to as
pranava dhyana or pranava japa. Pranava itself is a beautiful word.
Scholars refer to it as a word derived from the root “Nam” or “nam” to
bow (Nam prahvi bhave) as used in namah or namaste. 'Prakarshena nauti
sthouti iti pranavah', meaning pranava is the highest praise or
obeisance to the highest principle, here Iswara or Brahman. Another
interesting interpretation of this word comes from deriving the word
from another root 'nav' (or nava) to begin or new like 'novo'. Since
Brahman is said to be pure consciousness and never changes it is
always new, always 'nava' and hence pranava.
There are other important mantras who have separate names. The Gayatri
mantra which is of the gayatri meter refers to the mantra starting
with 'tat savitur..' and even though there are many other mantras in
the Gayatri meter, only this particular mantra, the brain child of
Viswamitra is referred to as gayatri. Then we have another famous
mantra “namassivaya”. This namassivaya mantra is more often referred
to as 'panchakshari' or five syllable mantra even as there are scores
of other mantras which have five syllables. 'Om namo narayanaya' my
Guru's favorite mantra is known as ashtakshari as it has eight
syllables. 'Om namo bhagavate vasudevaya' is a very popular Krishna
mantra and is known as 'dwadasakshari' as there are 12 syllables in
The mantras especially pranava were chanted, meditated upon and
referred to with considerable devotion and respect in the olden days".