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Kechari Mudra Technique For Kriyabans Only (those who have received Kriya Yoga Initiation)
Kechari Mudra Technique For Kriyabans Only (those who have received Kriya Yoga Initiation)
Ananda Kriya Sangha India B-10/8, DLF Phase I Gurgaon (Haryana) 122 022 email: [email protected] web: www.anandaindia.org United States 14618 Tyler Foote Road Nevada City, CA 95959 email:[email protected] web: www.ananda.org
What is Kechari Mudra? From The Art and Science of Yoga, by Swami Kriyananda
A mudra is a yoga position that is designed especially to awaken spiritual energies in the body. Of all mudras, Kechari [pronounced ke–CHAR–ee] is one of the most important. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most difficult. The tongue must be brought back behind the soft palate so that its tip connects with certain nerves in the nasal passages. If the tongue cannot be brought back that far, its tip may be placed against the uvula (the soft fleshy appendage that hangs from the soft palate at the back of the mouth). The chief purpose of Kechari Mudra is to awaken Kundalini. The positive and negative energies in the tongue and nasal passages (or uvula), when joined together, create a cycle of energy in the head which, instead of allowing the energy to flow outward to the body, generates a magnetic field. This field draws energy upward from the body and from the base of the spine to the brain. It is said that the tongue turns back of itself in Samadhi. The practice of this mudra helps to hasten the advent of deep spiritual states of consciousness.
Questions and Answers on Kechari Mudra (from Ananda Kriyaban Retreats with Swami Kriyananda)
Question: Please tell us a little about Kechari Mudra? Swami Kriyananda: Kechari Mudra is called the highest of all the mudras. To be adept in hatha Yoga, there are two mudras in particular you should master. Kechari is one of them. It is a very peculiar technique. I understand why Master only hinted at it in his lessons. It’s the sort of thing that can make people say, “Yoga is weird! Thank you, I’m not interested!” In Kechari Mudra, you turn the tongue back and put it behind the soft palate. A compromise version that gives some of the same benefits is to touch the tip of the tongue to the uvula, that little flap hanging down at the back of the throat. Yoga teaches that the union of the nerves in the tip of the tongue and the uvula is the real inner sexual union. It creates a kind of short circuit of the energy that draws it forcibly from the body into the brain. You can feel an immediate effect when you do it. It is an extraordinary and powerful technique. In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras and in Hatha Yoga shastras, it is the technique for learning to levitate and fly. If you keep these nerves [in the tip of the tongue and nasal passages or uvula] united for a certain period of time an elixir is secreted. It tastes sweet, like a mixture of clarified butter and honey. I wonder if the “promised land” where the Jews were led—the “land of milk and honey”—was really a symbol of the heavenly kingdom within. There is a whole veda in the India scriptures called Samaveda, which most people think is about drinking rice wine and getting soused. In fact, it is about this inner nectar, which is highly charged and can keep you energized for long periods of time without your needing to eat. It gives tremendous joy and 4
spiritual power. Yogis say that when bears go into hibernation they roll their tongues back. That is why they are able to remain so long— months at a time—in suspended animation. Their heartbeat gets very slow—down to one or two beats a minute, I believe. In samadhi, the tongue automatically goes into Kechari Mudra. So doing it deliberately will help you go into ecstasy. For the Higher Kriyas, it is particularly beneficial. Kamala Silva [a direct disciple of Master] told me she got far more from the Higher Kriyas when she did them with Kechari Mudra. Lahiri Mahasaya taught Kriya with Kechari Mudra. To be able to get the tongue into Kechari you first have to stretch the frenum (the cord that ties the tongue to the floor of the mouth), so many of Lahiri Mahasaya’s disciples include tongue-stretching exercises as part of their Kriya initiation. (See next section.) Question: What is the goal of Kechari Mudra? Swami Kriyananda: People often ask how to get their energy moving up the spine to the spiritual eye. Well, Kechari Mudra is a good way to do it. It draws the energy into the spine and starts pulling it toward the brain. Question: At what point do you recommend that one add Kechari Mudra to one’s practice? Swami Kriyananda: You should begin doing it when you have a good sense of internalization of energy, of inner calmness in the spine. When you’ve reached that stage of your practice, you will get more effect from Kriya doing it with Kechari Mudra. Don’t think in terms of starting after a certain period of time— five or ten years, say—think rather of starting when you feel it 5
is the right time to do it. It is a very important technique, even though it may seem a little strange at first. There is a positive energy in the tip of the tongue and a negative energy in the uvula and in certain nerves in the nasal passages. When these two energies unite, it short circuits, making a powerful cycle of energy that creates a magnet. The right way to raise the kundalini is to create a magnet from above, rather than forcing it from below. Kechari Mudra is a natural and right way to create that magnet. Question: Will Kechari Mudra help to get rid of blockages in the spine? Swami Kriyananda: It definitely will do that. Spiritual blockages in the spine are a kind of tension. Generate enough upward moving energy and it will blast through those blockages. Kechari Mudra is one way of generating that energy. Everything gets drawn up in its wake. Question: Ever since last year’s Kriyaban Retreat I have been practicing the preparatory exercise Telubya [pronounced te–LUB–ya] Kriya. Can you tell me where this exercise originated? Swami Kriyananda: It originated with Lahiri Mahasaya. He taught it. Where did he get it? I suppose from Babaji. Where did Babaji get it? That fact is buried in history. Babaji said that in a former incarnation he was Krishna and gave the science of Kriya to Arjuna and a few others. Krishna, in the Bhagavad Gita, also says that he had given this science to the most ancient of known rishis at that time. This Kriya, therefore, has been taught by great rishis through thousands of years. It is very holy. All the different aspects of it are ways of helping to make our practice of Kriya Yoga more perfect. 6
Question: How long does it take to master Kechari Mudra— months, years? Swami Kriyananda: It depends on the tightness of the frenum. Pushing the tongue against the roof of the mouth and milking the tongue helps to loosen the frenum. It also depends on the length of your tongue. If you can touch the tip of your nose with your tongue that’s a promising start. Lahiri Mahasaya insisted on people doing Kechari Mudra. Ours is Lahiri Mahasaya’s Kriya so we should keep in mind the importance he placed on it. Question: I have been practicing Kriya with my tongue turned towards the back of my throat in the closest approximation to Kechari Mudra I can make. Would it be better to wait until I can do Kechari Mudra well before practicing Kriya in this way? Although this is helping to stretch the frenum, it causes me to have to breathe through my nose as well as through my mouth. Swami Kriyananda: Touching the tongue to the uvula does bring some of the same effects as Kechari Mudra. The difficulty is that when your tongue is tensed to keep it against the uvula, it is harder to make the Kriya sounds. One of the sounds especially is very difficult to make when the tongue is turned back. You don’t want to keep moving the tongue back and forth with each Kriya because it is distracting. If you can make the sounds with the tongue turned back, if you can hold the tongue against the uvula and still relax your throat enough so your concentration is on the currents and not on the tension in the tongue, then it’s fine to do Kriya that way. It becomes a matter of personal taste and personal abili7
ty. It is up to you. Frankly, I can’t do it, but other people have assured me they can. The fact remains, it really isn’t as good to do Kriya in that way as it is with the tongue all the way back and into the nasal passage. Master didn’t teach Kechari Mudra to the general public because it is a difficult technique to master. Westerners find yoga extraordinary enough without this in addition! Also, Master found that emphasizing the Kriya sounds is important for getting the true feeling of Kriya in the throat and spine. In Kechari, you have to make the sounds deep in the throat and it is impossible to make the sounds the way they are normally taught. You have to visualize the sounds. But Master did teach that when you can go deep, doing Kriya with Kechari is the correct way to do it. Interestingly, Dr. Lewis told me that one time Master looked at him and said, “You aren’t doing Kriya properly.” “What do you mean, sir?” Dr. Lewis asked. Master said, “You should practice Kechari when you do Kriya.” Because I could do Kechari, the next time I saw Master I asked him, “Sir, should I do Kechari while doing Kriya?” Master replied, “Not yet.” In other words, he wanted me to get the feeling of cool and warm, and control over the currents before doing Kechari. In India they make a big thing of teaching Kechari before you can even do Kriya. Master said, “That isn’t necessary.” In the past, I was a little hesitant to teach Navi Kriya except as one of the Kriya preparation techniques. I don’t want to teach anything unless I know Master taught it. But recently I have heard that Kamala Silva taught Navi Kriya and Durga Mata [a direct disciple of Master] knew it. The only way they could have gotten it is from Master. So now I feel more confident in teaching it. Navi Kriya is a good thing to practice, but it is not 8
part of the way Kriya Yoga is taught to the public. These other techniques are things you can add bit by bit if you want to, but they are not necessary. The necessary thing is that you feel the currents in the spine. These techniques, especially Kechari Mudra, are adjuncts that will help you practice Kriya more deeply. Question: What did Master say about practicing Kechari Mudra in combination with the other meditation techniques like Hong-Sau, AUM, Jyoti Mudra, Maha Mudra? Swami Kriyananda: I didn’t hear him say anything on this particular subject. I know that different lines of Lahiri Mahasaya’s disciples say of course you do Kechari with Jyoti Mudra, and I would assume that this is true. If you are doing Kechari with Kriya, why not do it with Jyoti Mudra? It makes sense. The same thing could be said for the other meditation techniques. With Maha Mudra, it is less important. The main thing in Maha Mudra is stretching and magnetizing the spine. With the heel in the anus and the chin on the chest you lock the energy in the spine. Magnetizing that energy, send it upward, drawing it to the point between the eyebrows. Maha Mudra is a very important practice. It is not just physical stretching; it is a magnetizing process that will make your practice of Kriya deeper. Question: Should you use olive oil in doing Kechari Mudra? Sometimes my throat gets really dry? Swami Kriyananda: Yes, you can use oil. Question: Do you have to use your fingers to get the tongue into Kechari Mudra? Swami Kriyananda: I have to, but people who are better at it don’t. Some people can do Kechari as soon as they attempt it. It’s part of what they practiced as yogis in past lives so they’re 9
born with the ability to do it. Norman [a fellow disciple at Mt. Washington] was able to do it immediately. Question: When you do Kriya do you always keep your mouth open? Swami Kriyananda: If I do Kriya without Kechari Mudra I keep my mouth open, unless I have a sore throat. If I do it with Kechari Mudra, then of course my mouth is closed. You can’t make the traditional Kriya sounds with Kechari, instead you make a sound in the deep throat. Question: If you finally learn to do Kechari, and you want to incorporate it into your sadhana, where would it fit in? Swami Kriyananda: Do your Kriyas with Kechari Mudra. Question: What about doing Kechari Mudra while moving? A friend of mine told me he actually did it while walking. Swami Kriyananda: You can do it as a stretching exercise while doing something else, like walking or driving. Just don’t get too deeply into it, or you might go into samadhi and walk off a cliff or drive up a telephone pole! There is a written record of a Brahmin priest who lived to be very old. It says he traveled long distances on foot, doing Kechari Mudra as he walked. He was able to travel hundreds of miles a day that way. [Swami has cautioned people not to do full Kechari Mudra while driving or with any other task that requires concentration.] Question: Even after your Kriya practice, do you continue doing Kechari Mudra while sitting in the silence?
Swami Kriyananda: Yes, of course you can. Question: If you can do Kechari Mudra, should you do it with the Higher Kriyas? Swami Kriyananda: Yes Question: Do you have to open the throat when you do Kechari Mudra? Swami Kriyananda: When you turn the tongue back the throat opens automatically. Question: If you are doing Kechari Mudra when you do the Kriya breath, is there a sound? Swami Kriyananda: Yes, you can make a sound deep in the throat. With Kechari Mudra, though, you can’t get the traditional Kriya sounds, so you have to think them. Question: When I do Kriya with Kechari Mudra, I have to use my will to make the sounds in the throat. Should I do that? Swami Kriyananda: Yes, the sound in the throat helps to get the feeling of air passing. It’s a good thing to do. It doesn’t have to be loud. When I’m doing Kriya on my own I do it softly. Question: Where does the tongue go in Kechari Mudra? How far up can you push it? Swami Kriyananda: There’s no hole that passes the tongue into the brain, so feel free to go as high as you can. There is a cord between the two nostrils, and above that, still more space. With practice you can push above the cord. That’s where the tongue should be. You can also just touch the tip of the tongue 11
to the uvula and get some effect that way. Question: Do you need to press the tongue up in the nasal passage and touch the nerves there? Swami Kriyananda: No, keep the tongue relaxed in the nasal passage. At first there is a certain strain in this position. Then after a while it feels natural and easy. Question: Does the tongue ever get stuck in Kechari Mudra? Swami Kriyananda: No, don’t worry about it.
Kechari Mudra Preparation Exercises The main obstacle to doing Kechari Mudra is the shortness of the average tongue and of the frenum (the cord that ties the tongue to the floor of the mouth.) These exercises will help you to stretch the tongue and frenum gradually and naturally. (Lahiri Mahasaya taught some of them.) Under no circumstances should the frenum be cut. It was put there by nature to prevent us from swallowing our tongues. To cut it might also sever the nerves that go to the tongue. You may be able to practice one of two of these Kechari preparation exercises on a daily basis. You may have time to do them all. But don’t overdo it. If you find the frenum, tongue or soft palate getting sore, you may need to take a break from the exercises for a day or longer. Keep in mind that it takes time— months or maybe years—to be able to do full Kechari Mudra. In addition to these practices, devotion to God and gurus, will also in time help you to be able to do Kechari Mudra. Devotion draws God’s grace on your practice.
“Milking” the Tongue—The tongue can be stretched by gently pulling or “milking it.” With a damp cloth, pull the tongue outward and then downward several times with a gentle “milking” motion. This may be done for several minutes a day, before your meditation or at other times.
Pressing the Tongue Against the Roof of the Mouth—The frenum may be stretched by turning the tongue back as far as you can and pressing the base of it against the roof of the mouth. Gradually, as the tongue relaxes, try to stretch it further and further toward the back of the mouth. In time, you should be able to touch it to the uvula at the back of the throat, as a first step to doing full Kechari Mudra. You can hold this posi13
tion while practicing Hong-Sau, AUM or Kriya as long as it is comfortable for you.
Rubbing the Frenum Across the Teeth—The frenum may also be softened and stretched by pulling the tongue out and gently rubbing it left and right across the lower teeth. Be very careful with this exercise; especially if you have particularly sharp lower teeth. This technique, which you should practice for a couple of minutes, can be combined with the “tongue-milking” exercise—gently pull the tongue outward and downward, then rub it across the bottom teeth.
Telubya Kriya—In this exercise, turn the tongue back and cleave it to the roof of the mouth. Slowly open your mouth while continuing to press the bottom of the tongue against the roof of the mouth. At the point where the connection breaks, thrust the tongue out as far as you can. Practice about 25-50 times a day, or as much as you can with comfort.
Kechari Mudra FAQS (Frequently Asked Questions) 1 Question: Can anybody do Kechari Mudra? Are there some people who just are not able to do it no matter how long they practice the preparatory exercises. Answer: Although we haven’t done a study, most people that we know have been able to do Kechari Mudra if they do the exercises regularly. 2 Question: Is this an essential practice for Kriya Yoga? Answer: Although it is very helpful for deepening ones meditation, it is not absolutely essential. 3 Question: How long does it normally take to get into Kechari Mudra if one does the preparatory exercises regularly? Weeks? Months? Years? Answer: For some people it’s a month. For others it can be a year or longer. How long it takes will depend on the tightness of the frenum and the length of the tongue. 4 Question: How will I know when I am in Kechari Mudra? Answer: You will feel your tongue above and behind the soft palate. The soft palate will be pushed forward by the base of the tongue. 5 Question: When your tongue is in Kechari Mudra how long does it stay in that position? Answer: Initially the frenum and soft palate might get sore and you’ll want to come out of Kechari Mudra, but after a while you will be able to stay in it for an hour or longer. There is no limit to how long you can stay in that position. 6 Question: Will I begin to talk strangely if I do the Kechari 15
Mudra exercises or Kechari Mudra? Answer: No, stretching the tongue won’t interfere with your normal speech nor will your tongue look any different. 7 Question: Will I gag by bringing my tongue to the back of my throat? Answer: Some people have that reaction in the beginning, occasionally, but it usually calms down quickly. 8 Question: Can I hurt myself by doing these practices, for example, can I swallow my tongue? Can my tongue get stuck in the nasal passages or in the throat? Can I block my breathing? Answer: The tongue goes up not down in the throat during Kechari Mudra. Once you are in the mudra you breathe through the nose. We have never heard of anyone swallowing their tongue doing Kechari Mudra. And no, your tongue can’t get stuck in this position. 9 Question: I’ve heard that you can cut the frenum and get into Kechari Mudra more quickly. Answer: Under no circumstances should the frenum be cut, as certain unscientific writers have proposed. The frenum was put there by nature to prevent us from swallowing our tongues and it contains important nerves that supply the tongue. To cut the frenum might sever the nerves that go to the tongue. It may take longer to stretch it than to cut it, but to hasten this process with a razor blade would be foolish and dangerous. 10 Question: Can I do Kechari Mudra when I do the Energization Exercises? Answer: Swami Kriyananda said not to do Kechari Mudra while doing the Energization Exercises because during Energization we are sending our energy outward to the body. For the same reason it would be unwise to do Kechari Mudra 16
when you are ill. 11 Question: I’ve heard that the tongue goes into Kechari Mudra automatically when you go into deep states. Is this true? Answer: Yes, it is true. When you go into samadhi your tongue naturally goes into Kechari Mudra. 12 Question: Can I automatically go into Kechari Mudra in a deep meditation without having practiced the techniques? Answer: Yes, some people have had that happen. 13 Question: What do I do if I go into a deep state of consciousness in Kechari Mudra? If my breath stops, or if I feel a deep joy, or an over-powering sensation in my head? Answer: Just enjoy that state of consciousness. Your tongue may naturally come out of Kechari at that point. Don’t worry about it getting stuck.
Progressive Stages in doing Kechari Mudra First Stage: The tongue is as far back as comfortable toward the back of the throat. Second Stage: As you stretch the tongue and frenum, you will be able to touch the tongue to the uvula (the soft fleshy appendage that hangs from the soft palate at the back of the mouth.) Third Stage: The tongue is brought above the soft palate. Final Stage: The tongue is brought above the soft palate and up to the top of the hollow area (nasal cavity) as far forward and upward as possible. 17
1 Nasal cavity 2 Soft palate 3 Tongue
4 Frenum 5 Throat 6 Uvula