III.31 कण्ठकूपे क्षुत्पिपासानिवृत्तिः

kaṇṭha-kūpe kṣut-pipāsā-nivṛttiḥ

“[By saṁyama] on the hollow of the throat, a return of healthy rhythms of hunger and thirst.”

Kaṇṭha is the throat, the neck, the voice. The word derives from kaṇ, “to sound,” and so the hollow (kūpa) of the throat is intrinsically related to vibration. It is where we vibrate our meanings and intentions. This is the realm of the fifth cakra, called viśuddhi, which means purification (see II.28).

Patañjali draws attention to our relation to food and drink, saying that contemplation of the throat  cakra brings nivṛtti of hunger and thirst. Vrtti means movement or patterns of movement and is a key word in Patanjali’s definition of yoga in I.2–Yoga is the removal of the patternings of the consciousness. Though classical commentators translate nivṛtti here to mean cessation, the ending of movement, the word does suggest return, leaving (from ni-, “down, into” + vṛt, “to move, to turn, to condition”; nivṛt, “to turn back, return”).

I am uncomfortable with the promise that yoga, a practice of body awareness, brings a cessation of body needs. I follow the lead of Matthew Remski, who says that control of hunger and thirst is  “an unfortunate temptation to a culture prone to disordered eating.” (Threads of Yoga, p. 177 ) I translate kṣut-pipāsā-nivṛttiḥ instead as “a return of healthy rhythms of hunger and thirst.”

I hope this resonates with any who have suffered from disordered eating, from a starve/binge pattern or an obsession with weight and body image that can alienate us from our own internal hunger cues. Yoga–and particularly, work with the cakras–is about integration of the parts of our selves.

The throat cakra is of particular interest when we consider integration. Anodea Judith, in Eastern Body Western Mind,  writes that the fifth cakra‘s primary function is communication. It is both “a gateway between the inner world and the outer” and “an internal gateway between mind and body.” The narrowest cakra in the body, it is a kind of bottleneck and can literally function in that way, stopping the thing that cannot be said, the place that blocks the feeling that cannot be felt. A dissociation of mind and body can be seen in the head out of alignment with the body, the neck and shoulders tight.

Sounding in our throat, through chanting, speech, singing, resonates through us. Those vibrations resonate out to others as well, and can powerfully connect us to community in group activities of movement or song. They connect us through the cakras as well, from the root to the crown of the head.

Anodea Judith calls our attention to input of sound as well. Modern life clangs and roars with noise of combustion engines, machines, sirens, and piped-in background music. Our world is very noisy, and we might consider how that input of loud sound affects us. In our efforts to filter those vibrations out, do we become dull to internal soundings?

The fifth cakra governs input/output in a general way. I consider whether my daily routines allow me enough time to process all the input–including the massive amount of information from headlines and news reports. When in a day do I pause? Am I in a quiet place? Can I make time to be quiet and sense internally?  I need to consider, too, as a person with a history of disordered eating, whether my eating is jangled or ravenous because I have not processed, because I am overwhelmed by events and experience.

In the Spring of 2022, as the shut down of the first two years of Covid began to lift, I attended a live performance of Parable of the Sower, an opera written by Toshi Reagon and her mother Bernice Johnson Reagon (founder of the renowned singing group Sweet Honey in the Rock). The work is based on Octavia Butler’s dystopic novel, and it tells the story of a world on fire, of a young woman who survives apocalypse and starts her own community of faith whose central tenet is

All that you touch
You Change
All that you Change
Changes you
The only lasting truth
Is Change
–Octavia Butler, Parable of the Sower, p. 3

Parable of the Sower has had a powerful hold on my imagination in the Covid era–it has helped me process my sense that we are in an apocalypse, not because of Covid but what Covid revealed.

The opera was wonderful and beautiful, and after the performance, there was a talk-back with Toshi Reagon. She was asked about her own practice of staying well at the end of a world. She said, “I am black. I am here because my amazing ancestors passed on technology to live. My body is the home I have. They passed on to me how to vibrate my body and be at home.”

Toshi Reagon considers music a technology to live. Her practice is to vibrate her body.

Today’s sūtra offers us a technology. The fifth cakra teaches to tune in to the vibrations of our selves. Sound in Hindu tradition is the subtlest of the senses. Sound takes us to what is most true. Listen. Make sound. Vibrate.


“Communication is the essential function of the fifth chakra. As self-expression, it is a gateway between the inner world and the outer. Only through self expression does the outer world get to know what’s inside of us…. The throat chakra is also the internal gateway between mind and body. The narrowest passage within the whole chakra system, the throat is literally a bottleneck for the passage of energy. We can think of it as a kind of relay system, sorting through messages from the body and connecting them with information in the brain. Only when mind and body are connected do we have true resonance.” –Anodea Judith, Eastern Body, Western Mind, p. 296

“The kaṇṭha-kūpa is the throat-pit. This is a meeting place of the movement of vital breaths passing through the channels of the nose and the mouth…. It is said that this Chakra governs the externalizing mind, or in other words, it controls the expressional activities of the mind. Now hunger and thirst have much to do with these externalising activities.” –Rohit Mehta, Yoga, the Art of Integration, p. 337

• What poses have brought you more awareness of the throat and the neck? Where do you feel sound in your body?
• Do you make sounds in your practice–playing an instrument, chanting, singing? Do you have a writing practice? How is listening part of that practice?
• Are your surroundings noisy? Where are places of quiet that you can go? Are there places you can listen to nature sounds? Do you set limits for yourself around news or social media?
• Has yoga practice affected your relation to food and drink?


masculine noun in compound

throat, neck, voice (from kaṇ, “to sound”)


masculine noun, 7th case singular, “on”

hollow, cavity, well


feminine noun in compound

hunger (kṣudh, “be hungry”)


feminine noun in compound

thirst (from , “to drink”)


feminine noun, 1st case singular

returning, leaving, [ceasing] (from ni-, “down, into” + vṛt, “to move, to turn”; nivṛt, “to turn back, return”)

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