This post isn’t about the Kama Sutra, it’s about jivha bandha. Bandha, which is translated as “lock,” refers to a maintained body position that is used along with asana and/or meditation to regulate and direct energy flow through the body. We typically hear about mula bandha (root lock), uddiyana bandha (lower abdominal), and jalandhara bandha. Less frequently, we come across jivha bandha (tongue lock), but it’s simple. The tip of the tongue comes to the front of the roof of the mouth, where the teeth meet the palate. In some schools of yoga, more of the tongue makes contact with the roof of the mouth, but the way that i was taught was just the tip – the rest of the tongue naturally kind of hollows out.
I don’t teach this – i might mention it to plant a seed, but like ujjayi pranayama, i believe it should come through one’s practice without forcing. A little bit of trying it on is good, but when you’re just starting, or even if you’re 5 years into a regular practice, you need a lot of attention for your breath, your right foot, your left elbow, your tailbone, an intention, a mantra, softening, opening, focusing, oops, don’t forget to breath – is jivha bandha so important that we need to shove it in on top of everything else? I don’t think so, no.
However, once it arrives in your practice without force or struggle, it’s a wonderful addition. I find it calming and focusing, and that it helps me keep my jaw relaxed – for a habitual clencher, this is very useful. Give it a try when it occurs to you and see if you’re ready to get anything out of it. When you start to feel used to it, trying adding it in an asana and see if and how it shifts. It can be like jnana mudra – a cherry on top to keep you fully engaged.
Is there anything that you practice now that you used to find weird or distasteful? Are there things that your yoga teacher encourages you to do that make you go, “huh? why on earth would i ever do that?”