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Paramhansa Yogananda and Khechari Mudra
February 19th, 2010

This article covers a technique, Khechari Mudra, that is one of the most unusual in yoga and therefore a bit too strange for some people. I’m posting it here because there is quite a lot of confusion around this technique, and what Paramhansa Yogananda taught about it.

Khechari Mudra (also spelled Khecari or Kechari) is an ancient yoga technique that is used in the practice of Kriya Yoga as taught by Yogananda and his lineage of Kriya gurus. It has also been practiced by yogis and meditators for perhaps thousands of years, due to its wonderful benefits.

Yogananda privately recommended Khechari Mudra to some of his disciples, but only occasionally mentioned it publicly. He explained that he was teaching in a country where yoga was already strange enough — without also telling people about a yoga technique where the tongue is turned upward and placed into the nasal cavity, above the soft palate!

It’s important to remember that techniques alone can’t give one enlightenment or liberation. Yogananda said about Kriya Yoga:

Kriya plus devotion works like mathematics. It cannot fail.

Right attitude, devotion, and attunement to the Guru are more important than an over-reliance on exotic techniques such as Khechari Mudra. However, Khechari can be an aid to deeper meditation when done with the right attitude.

Yogananda didn’t fully describe the technique in his writings and lectures — it is explained in The Art and Science of Raja Yoga, by Swami Kriyananda.

In the ninety years since Yogananda began teaching in the West, unusual yoga practices, such as Khechari Mudra, have become more well known. Many people are confused about whether Yogananda even recommended Khechari. In fact, Yogananda both wrote and spoke about Khechari Mudra.

Yogananda wrote about Khechari in an early version of his home study course, published in 1926. The “little tongue” that he mentions below is the uvula, the soft tissue that hangs from the roof of the mouth, at the back of the throat:

This Kundalini moving brainwards, and helped by the union of nerves in the tip of the tongue and the “little tongue,” and certain centers in the nasal cavity, brings about the secretion of a fluid with union of the Life Energy and Cosmic Energy.

This secretion of nectar and union of energies do not involve any loss, but mean immense spiritual realization.

He also gave a similar explanation once to Swami Kriyananda:

Sex seems pleasant to you now, but when you discover the joy of real inner union, you will see how much more wonderful that is.

This union can be achieved physically also, by what is known in yoga as kechari mudra—touching the tip of the tongue to nerves in the nasal passage, or to the uvula at the back of the mouth.
Conversations with Yogananda by Swami Kriyananda

In an early article Yogananda described one of the benefits of practicing Khechari Mudra:

It draws energy from the cerebrum and medulla by connecting the tip of the big tongue with the little tongue (uvula).

He gave a more esoteric explanation in a lecture in India during his visit there in 1935-6:

While practicing Kriya… a divine nectar-like current flows from the sahasrara (chakra, or spinal center, at the top of the head).

Through the performance of Kechari Mudra, touching the tip of the tongue to the uvula, or “little tongue,” (or placing it in the nasal cavity behind the uvula), that divine life-current draws the prana from the senses into the spine and draws it up through the chakras to Vaishnavara (Universal Spirit), uniting the consciousness with spirit.

The entire body is thereby spiritualized and energized. As a result, a perceptible glow may emanate from the body.
—Mejda: The Family and the Early Life of Paramahansa Yogananda by Sananda Lal Ghosh, pp. 279-28

As you can see in Yogananda’s lectures and writings, he described the different stages of Khechari: first touching the tongue to the uvula, or “little tongue” at the back of the mouth, and then placing the tongue into the nasal cavity above the soft palate.

In The Art and Science of Raja Yoga, Swami Kriyananda gives a more complete explanation of Khechari:

Kechari Mudra, “the tongue-swallowing” technique that I taught in Step Five, creates a cycle of energy in the head that generates enough magnetism to draw great amounts of energy from the universe around you.

This energy is actually experienced in the mouth as a slightly sweet, and very pleasant, taste that has been described (accurately, in my experience) as resembling a mixture of ghee (clarified butter) and honey.

This is what is known in various mystical writings as “the nectar of the gods.”

Kriyananda goes on to explain:

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 that 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 assumption of this mudra helps to hasten the advent of deep spiritual states of consciousness.

The difficulty for most people is that the frenulum, the membrane under the tongue, isn’t flexible enough to allow the tongue to reach so far back and up. Over time the frenulum can be gently stretched to enable one to practice Khechari Mudra.

Yogananda was extremely vocal with his disciples that under no circumstance should one try to cut the frenulum, as some unscientific and ill-advised “teachers” recommended.

It is possibly out of such concern that certain teachers in Yogananda’s lineage are afraid of discussing Khechari Mudra. But there are some very simple exercises which enable one to gently stretch the frenulum and tongue enough to practice Khechari.

How did Yogananda recommend adding the practice of Khechari to one’s meditation and Kriya practice? Gradually, as Swami Kriyananda has explained:

He (Yogananda) didn’t talk about (kechari) much, but when he found somebody who could do it, he was very glad and urged them to do it.

One time he said to Dr. Lewis, “You’re not doing Kriya right.”

And doctor said, “What do you mean, sir?”

And Master said, “You should be doing kechari mudra.”

After Doctor told me, I asked Master, “Should I be doing kechari while practicing Kriya?” And he said, “Not yet.”

He didn’t emphasize this a lot. I think it was because he was teaching thousands and thousands of people in America who weren’t ready for this kind of thing. All Master did was bring people into the technique step-by-step rather than giving them everything all at once.

Khechari Mudra clearly isn’t for everyone — but it is extremely helpful for all meditation practices, including Kriya Yoga. And again, right attitude, devotion, and attunement to the Guru are more important than technique alone.

I’ve been practicing Kriya and meditation with Khechari for about thirty years. Because of the wonderful benefits it has for meditation, I would suggest that all Kriya Yogis, and any serious meditator, at least consider learning Khechari Mudra.

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58 Responses

  1. In order to keep the discussion focused, we will limit discussion to the subject of this article, which is what Paramhansa Yogananda and Swami Kriyananda have taught about Khechari Mudra. Also, please don’t make comments that might allude to the actual Kriya technique, since it is only given through initiation, in private. If anyone has questions that aren’t appropriate to be posted here, please feel free to email me by clicking on the “Email Devarshi” link above on the right.

  2. vincent natali says:

    I frequently wonder if practicing Kechari Mudra in a partial manner, reaching the soft palate but not the uvula, is beneficial.

  3. Vincent: it’s interesting, but I’ve had several people tell me that they felt very good results by touching the tongue to the soft palate, even when they were unable to reach the uvula with the tongue. So yes, I think it must be beneficial.

  4. S says:

    The practices taught by Lahiri Mahasaya — i think you refer to the Talabya kriya… Its heartening to know that ananda does not forbid its practice!!
    Nayaswami Devarshi, can you post on the Navi kriya as well, since this kriya too wasnt publicly emphasized upon by Yogananda, and hence theres much confusion on it as well. In particular, Kriyananda mentions how to practice it in one of his books (perhaps in intuition for starters); but how many times must it be done in one sitting of meditation?

  5. S: Yes, the Talabya Kriya technique is taught in the “Khechari Mudra Booklet” mentioned in the article.

    Yogananda spoke even less about Navi Kriya than he did about Khechari Mudra! Swami Kriyananda does teach it in his book, Awaken to Superconsciousness, in Chapter Nine. People can find the exact instructions there, including the general advice to practice one round of it at the beginning of one’s meditation.

  6. Melissa Bunt says:

    I thank you for this article – it is very insightful! I have, for a good number of years (7 at least) – from time to time, curled my tongue over on itself over and over – and find a wonderful estatic sense from it. It seems to evade hunger – similar to this nectar experience you speak of – truely amazing – almost like eating (nectar)! – Anyone else experience anything similar? – I noticed my daughter does this also from time to time! (and any similarities known?)

  7. Dev Adhikary says:

    Please can you elaborate upon the benefits of Navi Kriya

  8. Misho says:

    Khechari Mudra; the key word is ‘transmutation’, upon its facility being used… with sincerity.

  9. satinder says:

    khechri mudra is done automatically while practicing sidha yoga..

  10. Baba says:

    Aum Devarishi,

    Referring to =>

    >Yogananda spoke even less about Navi Kriya than he did about Khechari Mudra! Swami Kriyananda does teach it in his book, Awaken to Superconsciousness, in Chapter Nine.

    Does Kriyanandaji really give out specific details of Kriyas in a book?

  11. mr, chandrashekhar giri says:

    aum devrshi!!!!!
    i am 48 years young man from india
    i took intiation from lahrimahasaya linage guru mangeshda on 25th july on gurupurnima day.
    as of now i have riched satishfied level of devlopment in khechri mudra.
    its really wonderful i
    while i seepin nector i feeel no hunger .
    i feel young its fountain of youth i realise meny more drem signals from i started kriya.
    more on next time .
    hari om !!!!!

    • CHANDRASHEKHAR GIRI says:

      SINCE 2010-ITS NOW 2013 —- & I AM REACHING SLOWELY TO THE DESIRED POINT (WHERE I SHOULD REACH MY TOUNG.IT WILL TAKE SOME MORE YEARS TO RICH FINAL POINT ( BRAHMA RANDHRA).

      • CHANDRASHEKHAR GIRI says:

        some ygois in hurry cut the base of toung to reach the point , it is not at all advisable .

        • ari says:

          Hello Girir sir,
          Can you please give me your add or mail id oe any other form of contact like facebook/linkedin etc to discuss details on mudra

          • Nayaswami Devarshi says:

            Greetings,

            To go further, it would be best for you to have personal instruction and connection with an Ananda teacher. If you live in India, you can find the nearest group or center at http://www.anandaindia.org.

            joy,
            devarshi

  12. Arisane says:

    How long timewise is it recommended to practice Khechari Mudra, I am initiated into the Technique and am a Kriya Yogi.

    • You can practice Khechari as long as you like, during kriya practice and afterward. The only limitation might be if your tongue or palate start getting sore – then it can become a distraction. But as long as you are comfortable, you can do it for a long time.

  13. kanchan says:

    Very good

  14. pawan kumar says:

    it’s really good method.please mention time and pose of doing kheri mudra

  15. ricardo uribe says:

    i would like to learn the talabya kriya technique like an introduction to kechari mudra.
    I practice kriya from SRF.
    Can you help me?
    Regardfs,
    Ricardo

  16. birendra prasad says:

    wonderful
    pl keep guiding

  17. swaranjitkhanna says:

    i am practising khechari mudra on my own & it gives me lot of energy to spend my day earning my livelihood.i am not in touch with any yoga teacher.

  18. veeraiah n says:

    Your explanation on kechari mudra and its practice, is really convincing.

  19. Stuart andrews says:

    i am starting out and i have a question – the salty iron taste that drips in the mouth from holding your tongue this way, which is the default taste before enough practice is done enough for the drip to become sweet, is it bad to swallow? i guess a tantra saiva text warns that until it is sweet it should be spit out. anybody know what difference that makes?

    • Devarshi says:

      Yogananda didn’t say anything about the different tastes and whether any were harmful to swallow. If there was any harm at all, he would certainly have said so. I think there is a great deal of misinformation about Khechari. Trust the Master on this.

  20. saswati bose says:

    it is very beneficial to others, very infomative as well as educative. Thank you so much…

  21. sandeep jain says:

    I am practising kriya but don’t know when i should do it? & how to do it properly?

    • Devarshi says:

      It’s best to talk to a Kriyacharya or teacher about the best time and way to introduce Khechari into your Kriya practice.

  22. Kunal Maniar says:

    I am doing this unknowigly from childhood!! I did it cause I liked the taste of jucies.
    knowing it what it actually is a great feeling. But now after knowing what it is. I am unable to reach to the nasal cavity. Still secretion of jucies is wonderful, and taste is good. But there is some bitterness in it. Can u explain? I need more enlightment on this can u help?

    • Devarshi says:

      The taste is the beginning of the taste of Amrita, or the sacred astral nectar that comes from deep meditation. That’s a good thing, and all that is really important to know. Reaching the nasal cavity takes time and practice.

  23. Luka says:

    Hi!

    I have tried to do Khechari Mudra,but cannot reach with my tongue to fit it where it should be.
    Could you please advise on exercises to make frenulum more flexible?
    Thank you!

    • Devarshi says:

      The exercises are best learned in person from an Ananda teacher. We have centers all over the world:
      http://www.ananda.org/find-ananda/

      Unfortunately, the internet is a poor teacher and a poor vehicle for sharing more subtle practices. Best to learn in person from someone who is qualified.

  24. pat wolff says:

    I am taking Raja Yoga online with the intention of applying for Kriya. I can’t get my tonque back far enough to touch the “little tongue” so should I start trying so I can stretch the membrane and use kechari mudra later? I’m thinking it might take awhile to get the membrane to stretch far enough to allow it to go so far back.

    Pat

    • Nayaswami Devarshi says:

      Yes, it’s helpful to start working on stretching the tongue (and especially the frenulum linguae underneath) now since it can take a while to be able to do khechari mudra.

      If you just regularly turn the tongue back to try and reach the uvula, it will do a good job of stretching the frenulum. That’s all I did, and that’s how I was able to eventually do khechari. It took over a year, but that isn’t very long after all.

  25. Nayaswami Devarshi says:

    This is a request that people please not add their own personal instruction on khechari mudra. While there is plenty of valid information that could be added here, and plenty that is not so helpful, this blog is focused on instruction and teaching from Paramhansa Yogananda and his disciple Swami Kriyananda.

    Thank you for your understanding.

  26. jitendra kumar singh says:

    I do practice kriya since about 8 years as taught by Guru Paramhans yoganand ji. Like to learn khechari mudra. Please teach me

    • Nayaswami Devarshi says:

      Beyond what I’ve already shared, Khechari Mudra is best learned in person. One should go to their own Guru lineage for instruction. If you learned Kriya through Ananda, you can find Ananda teachers in India through http://www.anandaindia.org.

    • By only studying from the books or reading lectures one can not learn any yogic kiryas , you will have to learn in the presence of some Guru , who must be practical. You take guidance from your inner Guru , who always guides us for good or bad.

  27. Khacheri mudra is not an easy task for a meditator / kiya yogi , up to and until the aspirant do not jump in the ocean of Guru and attain live death , he can not succeed on this path . As soon as he merges himself in Guru , attains live death , all kiryas in his body will automatically happens .One require a live Guru in his life.Live Guru/Shiva/Yogananda is residing in our body and guiding us every moment if we listen to him .

  28. jayadevan says:

    interested to learn more…

  29. k.n.mohan rao says:

    i want know more about kachari mudra

  30. ashok choudhury says:

    if you make cosmic energy work for you, you have all the energy to work . cosmic energy should be used to raise productivity, and ensure progress and peace! with kechari mudra and kriya yoga, we can make earth the planet of higher humanity! let the yoga and the wisdom in it touch every soul …

  31. RAJEEV DWIVEDI says:

    DEAR SIR,

    CAN ONLY PURE SOUL CAN GET SELF REALIZATION.

    • Nayaswami Devarshi says:

      Indeed, devotion and purity of heart are needed for self-realization—they are much more important than techniques.

  32. pooja jain says:

    How to enlarge d toungue.

    • Nayaswami Devarshi says:

      No need to enlarge the tongue, only to relax and stretch the frenulum linguae under the tongue. Any further instruction should be received in person from one’s own Kriya lineage and teacher.

  33. srinivas raitha says:

    very helpful sir. thanks a lot. but kindly e mail me more about it. i am meditating by chanting my manthra given my Guru.
    i am totally new to kechari mudra, pls send every step to attain that yoga. i will do it.

    • Nayaswami Devarshi says:

      Any further instruction should be received in person from one’s own Kriya lineage and teacher. This blog was only meant to introduce the subject.

  34. mohandas k says:

    I like paramahamsas words

  35. K V Raghuram says:

    Beloved Sir,

    I am doing Kriya Yoga for a few years now. It is very nice of you to give details of kechari mudra. Please advise, while in this posture, is the Kriya to be performed or to be merely in the kechari state, meditating.

    I shall be immensely grateful, if you will let me know details of Omkar Kriya and Yoni Mudra details, which I came across in the book Sri Lahari Mahasaya Ji.

    Love and Regards,

    K V Raghuram

    • Nayaswami Devarshi says:

      Yes, Kriya is performed while doing khechari mudra, and it is also helpful to practice khechari while meditating. Beyond that, you really need to go to the kriyacharya and lineage where you received Kriya for more information.

  36. SUNDER SRINIVASAN says:

    very nice and useful information.

    • chandra shekhar says:

      how can it be performed in open mouth as taught in srf/yss

      • Nayaswami Devarshi says:

        Khechari Mudra can only be practiced breathing through the nose because it blocks the airway through the mouth. Beyond that, please let’s not discuss the kriya technique here any further, thanks.

  37. Swami Bodhichitananda says:

    Nayaswami ji, your articles are excellent, a real boon to all Yogis. much love…

  38. chetan says:

    please tell me where can i leanr khechari mudra

    • Nayaswami Devarshi says:

      As pointed out above, The exercises are best learned in person from an Ananda teacher. We have centers all over the world:
      http://www.ananda.org/find-ananda/

      Unfortunately, the internet is a poor teacher and a poor vehicle for sharing more subtle practices. It really is best to learn in person from someone who is qualified.