Bandhas seem like a very popular topic amongst western Yoga practitioners. Bandhas are “locks” that are used to effect the flow of energy in the body. Energetically, bandhas are effective and relevant when there is already a good flow of energy. But bandhas have another quality which can be useful for almos all practices and practitioners – they create focus.
I will start this conversation of bandha with a less known and less popular but very useful bandha – Jihva Bandha – the tongue lock. Jihwa bandha is performed by placing the tongue on the roof (upper palette) of the mouth. It’s that simple. It has an immediate and gratifying side-effect of silence – it’s hard to talk with Jivha bandha in place – so if you are a teacher it’s a great way to start a class 🙂 It becomes an interesting and sometimes challenging focus when you try to hold it in place during an entire practice. It demands attenion on focus – you’ll be able to perform any posture regardless of the position of your tongue – so it is entirely a practice of mind.
The effects of Jihva bandha are described in it’s more extreme form of Kechari in the “Hatha Yoga Pradipika” chapter 3 sutras 32 – 41. In the practice of Kechari the tongue is lenghtened so that it can reach deeper into the physical mouth and where there is an energetic “hot-spot” – where there flows a divine nectar “Soma” of concentrated life-energy. The tongue is lenghthened by stretching it, shaking it and gradually cutting the tissue beneath it which keeps it in place!
I don’t recommdne Kechari – but I highly recommend adding Jihva bandha to your practice.