Pingala Ida Shushumna Nadi?

Are you interested in learning more about the ancient practice of yoga? Central to the yoga philosophy are the yoga Nadis — Ida, Pingala, and Sushumna Nadi being the most “famous” ones, or anyway the principal Nadis. Sooo… Ida Pingala Sushumna — what are those? Let’s take a look together, shall we?

The yoga Nadis (and not only Ida Pingala Sushumna, mind you), or energy channels, in yoga are important because they are believed to carry prana, or life force energy, throughout the body. At their meeting place are the chakras. Practicing yoga is said to help clear and balance the flow of prana through the Nadis, leading to improved physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

sushumna nadi

It’s good to keep in mind that yoga is an ancient practice that has been used for centuries. Just like with any old spiritual and philosophical tradition, there is a lot of out there literature on various concepts pertaining to it. I’m not saying it’s of utmost importance for your yoga practice to understand who or what Ida, Pingala, and Sushumna Nadi are, but personally, the more I know, the less I feel like I’m blindly appropriating something that doesn’t belong to my culture.

So What are the yoga Nadis

In a nutshell, “Nāḍī” is an ancient Indian concept that refers to the pathways through which vital energies flow. These channels are believed to link at important locations known as chakras and provide energy for our physical or gross body, subtle body, and causal body. The what, now? Let us briefly recap:

The Three Bodies

The gross body in yoga refers to the physical body, also known as the material or external body. It is considered the outermost layer of the human body and is made up of bones, muscles, tissues, organs, and also our nervous system. In yoga practices, the gross body is focused on through physical postures (asanas) and breathing exercises (pranayama) to improve strength, flexibility, and overall health.

Meanwhile, the subtle body refers to a non-physical aspect of a person that is believed to control their physical, mental, and emotional states. It is thought to consist of subtle energy channels and centers (known as chakras) that influence a person’s overall well-being. Practicing yoga is believed to balance and harmonize the subtle body, leading to improved physical and mental health.

Lastly, the causal body is a concept that refers to a spiritual aspect of a person, which is considered to be the source of consciousness and the ultimate cause of all physical and mental experiences. It is thought to be the True Self, beyond the physical body and the subtle body, and to exist in a state of pure awareness. In yoga, it is believed that by realizing the causal body, a person can attain liberation and a state of union with the divine. The practice of yoga is seen as a means to reach this state of consciousness.

The Main Nadis

ida pingala sushumna

So, back to our Nadis, yo. Visualize thin tubes that form an interlinked web within the body, only they are intangible. Are you still with me?

It’s said that there are approximately 72,000 distinct Nadis that originate from the three primary or major Nadis: Ida, Pingala, and Sushumna Nadi. These pathways of energy or prana cannot be located physically in our body; rather they become more tangible to us as we gain a greater consciousness. As you take notice of your inner workings, you could discern these flows forming organized patterns instead of random movements. I know, that’s a bit out there.

Ida and Pingala

Ida and Pingala Nadi are two energy pathways located on either side of the spinal column that run from the base of the sacrum through each chakra point along its path to the crown chakra (aka Sahasrara chakra) at the top of our head. They represent opposite forces – Ida Nadi (the left channel) being feminine or lunar energies while Pingala Nadi (the right channel) is masculine or solar energy – which come together to create energy balance within us physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, energetically as well as psychologically.

By understanding these two pathways stemming from the base of your spine, we can better understand how our bodies respond to different postures during our practice as well as gain insight into why certain poses feel more challenging than others do. Additionally, we can use this knowledge to make conscious changes in our practice, allowing us to work more effectively with our bodies and achieve greater results.

To access the full potential of yoga, it’s important to understand both the Ida and Pingala channels and how they interact with each other. Learning about these two pathways can help you better understand your body and its needs, balance any energy imbalances, and achieve a deeper alignment in your practice. With this understanding, you can unlock the full power of yoga to improve your physical and mental well-being.

Sushumna Nadi

Sushumna Nadi is the central Nadi and the central energetic channel in the human body, according the Hindu tradition of yoga and Tantra. Shushumna Nadi runs from the base of the spine (aka the Muladhara chakra) to the crown of the head, passing through all the central chakras along the way. One of yoga’s aims is to activate and balance the flow of energy through the Shushumna Nadi, leading to spiritual awakening and liberation.

Other Nadis

There are many other Nadis in the human body, here are some of the most notable ones:

  • Vama: Vama Nadi is associated with the left channel of the body and is believed to play a role in overall health and wellness.
  • Vajra: Vajra Nadi is believed to play a key role in the practice of meditation and the attainment of spiritual enlightenment.
  • Gandhari: Gandhari Nadi is believed to be connected to the sense of touch and the skin.
  • Hastijihva: A lesser known Nadi, said to carry psychic energy from the lower limbs to the third eye chakra (aka Ajna chakra)
  • Kuhu: The Kuhu Nadi is a lunar channel in Ayurveda, a traditional Indian system of medicine, that is believed to influence emotions and the mind. It is said to be associated with the waxing moon and the female reproductive system.
  • Saraswati: Saraswati Nadi is a term used in Hindu spirituality and refers to an imaginary channel or river of consciousness considered to flow within an individual. It is associated with the Hindu goddess of knowledge, music, and the arts, Saraswati, and is said to control the flow of creative energy in the body. The concept is part of Hindu yoga and meditation practices, where it is believed to be awakened to bring enlightenment and liberation.
  • Varuni: Varuni Nadi is a Sanskrit term meaning “main channel of water”. It is a term used in Ayurvedic medicine and refers to the body’s fluid metabolism, including the circulation of lymph, blood, and other bodily fluids. In Ayurvedic theory, imbalances in the Varuni Nadi can lead to various health issues and it is thought that promoting balance in this channel can contribute to overall health and well-being.
  • Bbrahma: Brahma Nadi is a term used in Hindu Tantra and Yoga philosophy to refer to a subtle channel in the human body that is said to connect the base of the spinal canal to the crown of the head. It is believed to be the pathway through which spiritual energy flows and is associated with the awakening of spiritual consciousness.

Is It Important to Know About the Nadis When You Do Yoga?

Kinda. I find it important to have a basic understanding of the Nadis in yoga because they play a significant role in the practice, especially as it gets deeper and more spiritual in its nature. The Nadis are energy pathways in the body and play a key role in the flow of prana (life force energy). Understanding the Nadis can thus help you deepen the connection between the physical practice of yoga and its spiritual and energetic aspects.

yoga nadis

How to Incorporate the Nadis Into Your Yoga Practice

The Nadis, or the awareness of them anyway, can be incorporated into yogic practices in different ways, including the following ways:

  • Pranayama: Practicing breathing techniques can help activate and balance the flow of energy through the nadis. Nadi Shodhanam (also spelled Nadi Shodhana pranayama), or alternate nostril breathing, is a perfect example of this: by alternating breathing from the right nostril to the left nostril, it is believed that you can balance the energy between Ida and Pingala in the body and calm the mind. (more on Pranayama here)
  • Asanas: Certain yoga postures can help stimulate the nadis and improve energy flow.
  • Deep Meditation: Focus on the flow of breath and energy in the nadis can be used as an object of meditation.
  • Awareness: Paying attention to the sensations in your body, such as the flow of energy, can help you integrate the nadis into your practice.
  • Mantra repetition: Chanting mantras can help stimulate and balance the flow of energy in the nadis.

Another great way to be in full awareness of the Nadis is by attending a Kundalini yoga class, where the Nadis are directly tackled through kundalini energy and often felt in the spinal cord.

ida pingala

So that’s it for the Nadis. Have I weirded you out yet?