A couple of years ago I used to visit a homeopath to treat a recurring hair fall problem, she would diagnose the cause by checking my pulse also known as Nadi Pariksha (pulse examination). Surprisingly, she would point out the right causes, simply by examining the energy flow in the nadis. In ancient Indian medicine, Nadis are the channels or energy pathways that carry Prana or life force throughout the body and they connect at special energy points called chakras. The Sanskrit term ‘Nadi’ comes from the root ‘Nad,’ which means motion, flow, or vibration. Just how veins and arteries are important for the healthy functioning of our physical body, Nadis weave through our physical nerves as well as the subtle circuitry (yoga nadis) of the mind, of the self, of the consciousness matrix that supports our physical presence from invisible dimensions of existence.
Illustration showing the nadis and major and minor chakras
Prana needs to flow freely through the system to be healthy; when it becomes weak or congested, it leads to poor mental and physical health. Often painful life experiences lead to blockages and ultimately health woes, so opening up these channels is important for our overall well-being. The body is filled with innumerable Nadis that cannot be counted. Tantric wisdom state that there are 72,000 Nadis in the human body, 14 are principal nadis out which Sushumna, Ida and Pingala are considered to be the three most important.
Nadis are energy channels that carry prana throughout our body
Ida, associated with the energy of the moon, represents the feminine aspect of our personality and is often shown as white. It is also the Yin element in Chinese philosophy. Ida controls the function of parasympathetic nervous system which calms the mind and body, because it is related to emotions, feelings and memories. When Ida becomes too strong or dominant, tiredness, depression, introversion, and an inability to see things with a clear perspective can take over.
The Ida is channeled via the left nostril and Pingala nadi through the right nostril
While Pingala, associated with energy of the sun, represents the masculine aspect of our personality and is often shown as red. It controls the sympathetic nervous system, and stimulates activities and planning of body and mind. Pingala nadi is responsible for the logical, rational and analytical intellect. Pingala is also the Yang element in Chinese philosophy. When Pingala is overused, due to the hustle and bustle of city life, we can have difficulty sleeping, concentrating or we can become anxious, irritable, and impulsive. Ida and Pingala start and end to the left and to the right of the Sushumna respectively, moving in spirals like the DNA helix, crossing at each chakra or energy portal. Anahata Menon, shamanic healer and mystic at Anahata Foundation, explained, “It is the interaction between these two distinct yet complementary energy channels that controls our mental processes, intuition and the activity that takes place between the left and right hemisphere of our brain. The sacred union between the male (solar or day) and female (lunar or night) aspects of our spiritual nature forms the basis of most evolutionary esoteric paths.”
Sushumna is the central channel of energy in the human body that runs from the base of the spine to the crown of the head and carries Kundalini energy, the primal evolutionary force within, upwards as it is awakened through the practice of Yoga and meditation. Sushumna nadi only opens and flows freely when Ida and Pingala nadis are balanced and clear, thus the purification of all three nadis are important for the overall health, wellness of the body and mind, and one can also experience spiritual growth. Anahata said, “However, as a spiritualist, even though I personally enjoy all the technicalities of ancient wisdom and esoteric arts, I don’t obsess over them. If our spiritual urge or intent is aligned to infinite expansion of awareness, potentials and consciousness, to love, to higher principles of freedom and balance for the highest good of all, then any sincere spiritual practice, be it yoga or plant spirit medicine, drum medicine or reiki, should support this process effectively.
In traditional Chinese medicine, meridien is a path through which the life-energy or qi flows
As humanity makes a big shift of consciousness from the Collective Mind to the Collective Heart, I believe that the subtle technologies of our physical and etheric bodies will unlock or reveal themselves to us and spontaneously restore or repair themselves to a state of optimum balance and health.” To determine the flow of current at any particular time note the flow of breath in the nostrils. It the left nostril has a greater flow of air, then ida nadi is predominant. When the flow is greater in the right nostril, then pingala is predominant. If the flow is equal, then sushumna is ruling.
Hatha Yoga is a yoga technique that focuses on bringing this balance. Meditation, Pranayam, breath work and sound (nada or swara yoga) healing are different paths that one can explore to achieve this balance as well.
Surya namaskara is a common sequence of Hatha yoga asanas