The Power of your Tongue

There is one curious piece of information that has stayed with me from my years as a singing student. Such thing is this: “Your tongue is the biggest obstacle to Singing, yet without it you can’t sing”. Paradoxes of life😊. The tongue is also one of the strongest muscles in the body. And no wonder, as the tongue is highly responsible for holding our head upright, forming all the subtleties of our language, and helping digest our food. The tongue (the tongue is actually a group of 8 muscles), together with the diaphragm and the larynx (what a coincidence, the main Singing muscles!) are the only skeletal muscles that can function independently from the skeleton, that means you can move them without moving your ‘frame’, without being noticed😎.

I think ‘Relax your Tongue!’ is the sentence I’ve had to repeat the most as a Singing teacher (similar to saying “relax your shoulders!” as a fitness trainer). This is in great part due to the fact that the tongue becomes the receptacle of the body’s tension, without one even noticing. The relaxation of the tongue does not only influence our sound, but also our relaxation and – wait for it – our connection to the higher realms of existence🧚‍♀️. This is due to the tongue being rooted inside the neck, and the neck is a vital crossroads in the body, because all the nerves connecting the different parts of the body with the brain pass through it. So anything to do with that area must always be relaxed in order to achieve serenity and good performance, which is exactly the opposite of what daily life does to us.

But not only is the tongue special and powerful as it appears on the outside. It also has other powers👅💪🏼.

In Yoga, there is a specific mudra that works with the tongue. Let me first say what a mudra is. A mudra is a physical practice that generates a strong psychic effect upon our inner being, facilitating our spiritual advancement. If practiced correctly it can even lead to the generation of siddhis, i.e. paranormal abilities (some yogis, monks and highly evolved people do it). The Khechari Mudra is considered the king of the mudras, and it consists of rolling the tongue backwards so that the underside of it touches the back of the palate while the mouth is closed. With practice, it will touch the uvula, the throat space… and eventually the nasopharynx. It’s almost like touching your brain with your tongue👅🧠. Pretty wild😱.

With further practice, the tongue will be able to negotiate the uvula and go behind it. Next the tongue enters the nasal cavity. One should be able to hold it there for at least few minutes. One can breathe normally during this process. As you progress, the breathing rate will go down to 5 – 8 breaths per minute or even lower. Once inside the nasal cavity, the tongue can stimulate certain nerve centers that are connected to the brain. It is said that constant churning of the tongue produces a liquid that emanates from the roof of the cavity. The taste of the liquid varies. Initially, it may be salty which has to be spit out. Later the juice turns sweet and finally ‘Amrit’ or nectar is produced. This nectar is consumed by the yogi and it nourishes the body.

There are various pressure points and glands in the cavity behind the palate which have extensive control over the activities of the body, including removing the feelings of thirst and hunger, and even retain the breath for long periods of time with no harm. It also preserves our vital energy. Practising the stretching of the tendon beneath the tongue, when perfected, causes the astral body to detach from the physical, therefore consciousness dwells in between both worlds (physical and astral), and so much more that I won’t share here – not yet. The wonders of the body😏.

From a Singing point of view, the position/height of the tongue in the mouth varies the resonance of our tone, i.e., depending how and where you place your tongue in the mouth, you will sound one way or another. Tongue exercises that I know of, will stimulate your tongue in ways that will make you breathe better and you will be come generally more aware. I will share with you some here. Enjoy!🙂

  • Go in front of a mirror. Placing the tip of your tongue resting behind your lower teeth, let the jaw fall with the mouth open. Keeping the tip of your tongue where it is, and maintaining the tongue totally relaxed, move the base of the tongue up and down the throat, until you see the uvula and the space behind it as big as possible. Breathe normally throughout.
  • Say “ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya”, without moving your jaw, just move your tongue.
  • Say: “Take a ticket, take a ticket, take a ticket, Tom”. Try it faster each time with no tension anywhere.

Link of interest:

Khechari Mudra (with video and instructions).

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