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Nadis, the energy channels

In our article about Hatha Yoga and Ashtanga Yoga, we introduced the nadis in the Hatha tradition. We briefly described the Ida, Pingala, and Sushumna nadis as channels through which the energy of the moon and sun balance each other.

In this article, we'll dive deeper into the philosophy around the nadis. We will explain what they are, how they are organized, and what is their goal.

What are the nadis?

In the yogic culture, the nadis are known as channels for energy circulation, or Prana. The word Nadi comes from Sanskrit and means "flow" or "current." Although they correspond with the nerves, the nadis are not part of the physical body. It is important to note here that Prana and nadis are subtle concepts and describe invisible and spiritual anatomy.

It is said that there are 72 nadis in the body through which the energy circulates. From these, ten are the major ones: Ida, Pingala, Sushumna, Brahma, Koorma, Shakti, Saraswati, Brahmaputra, Kaveri, and Lakshmi. Three are most significant in the Hatha Yoga philosophy: Ida, Pingala, and Sushumna.

Nadis organization

According to the yogic anatomy, the nadis originate from the Mooladhara chakra, which is the lowest chakra and is located at the perineum for the male and at the cervix for the female. From there, some nadis extend upward in the spine and some others descend from the spine into the lower limbs.

The Sushumna nadi is the main one and originates from the Mooladhara chakra and ends at Sahasrara, the chakra of higher consciousness located at the crown of the head. Sushumna is the spiritual channel, and all the other nadis are its subordinates, as the nerves are branches of the spinal cord.

The two other principal nadis, Ida and Pingala, originate from each side of the Mooladhara chakra and flow in spirals, crossing each chakra until they reach Ajna, or the third eye chakra. Ida and Pingala have a mirroring path, Ida starting on the left of Mooladhara and ending on the left of Ajna, and Pingala starting and ending on the right.

Ida is known as the moon Nadi and is associated with passive, introverted, and feminine energy. Pingala, for its part, is called the sun Nadi and represents active, extroverted, and masculine energy.

Ida and Pingala complement and balance each other in both their trajectory and characteristics. They represent the two opposite forces flowing within us.

An alternate flow

Ida and Pingala operate alternatively during the day. One's energy flow passes from active and extroverted to passive and introverted at different moments of the day.

That change is done by itself, and it is possible to know which is more active by observing the breath. Pingala Nadi is more active when the breath flows wildly through the right nostril. On the opposite, a breath that would flow mainly through the left nostril would show the dominance of Ida.

When the right nostril is predominant, there is more energy for physical work, the mind is extroverted, the body generates heat, and the food can be digested easily. When the left nostril is active, mental energy is dominant, the mind is introverted, and it is excellent timing for mental work.

All activities are influenced by the flow of the nadis, and having a disturbed flow can have different impacts. For example, Ida usually naturally flows during sleep. If Pingala flows at night, the sleep will be restless and agitated. On the contrary, if Ida flows while one eats, the digestion will be slow, and there will be risks of indigestion.

Finding balance

Hatha yoga aims to bring balance to the flow of the nadis. One must practice shatkarma, asanas, and pranayama to find this balance.

The Shatkarma, or cleansing processes, purifies the body and mind and prevents diseases. They are of six types, each regulating the function of an internal organ and cleaning the body and mind of their waste. The Shatkarma practices are essential for finding balance in the nadis and must be performed before any other yogic practices as they keep the obstacles away from the spiritual path.

When the nadis are purified and balanced, the energy from Ida and Pingala starts flowing through the Sushumna Nadi. Then only the yogi can practice higher levels of meditation and reach Samadhi.

At Japam, we teach according to Hatha Yoga philosophy. We have Shatkarma and pranayama classes every morning at our studio in Rishikesh. It is also possible to take private classes online to learn the different methods. Don't hesitate to contact or visit us for more information or to discuss about yoga.

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