The tongue is vital to digestion. It is a “freely moveable muscular organ” and it is the first organ of digestion. The back of the tongue is attached to the hyoid bone and to the epiglottis. Below the hyoid is the thyroid and parathyroid glands. The thyroid is considered one of the “master glands” and is primarily responsible for metabolism. When the throat is constricted, and the hyoid bone locks, the tongue may similarly constrict. Any kind of bracing or gripping in the throat region (vishuddhi chakra) can have a paralyzing effect on digestion and in turn the overall metabolic functioning of the body. Additionally, the throat is the transition between the heart and the head. The throat is the 5th chakra, the place where we speak our truth— called satya in Sanskrit. Tension in the tongue may cause repression in the voice. The base of the tongue attaches to the frenulum, the tendon palpable underneath your tongue. If the frenulum is short a person is said to be “tongue-tied”. In Khechari Mudra, this piece of tendon is cut and the tongue turns back into the space of the upper palate.
Practice Jiva Bandha, by lightly pressing the tip of your tongue to the center of the roof of you mouth. This helps to broaden the upper palate and create space in the back of the oral cavity. It is particularly beneficial for those who have had extensive dental work, grind their teeth or have tension in the TMJ (Temporal-Mandibular Joint). Practice this internal tongue position when in seated meditation and when driving around town!