Written by Shail Rao-Rane
The human body is not merely a complex system of organs and tissues; it is also a magnificent energy network. In the realms of Yoga and Ayurveda, this energy system is referred to as the Naadis. With thousands of these energy channels spread throughout the body, three of them hold particular significance: Ida, Pingala, and Sushumna.
Nadis are subtle energy channels that carry Prana (life force energy) throughout the body. According to ancient yogic texts, there are said to be 72,000 Nadis, though some sources suggest even more. These channels interconnect our physical, mental, and spiritual aspects, ensuring the smooth flow of energy and maintaining overall balance.
Ida, Pingala, and Sushumna
While all Nadis play essential roles in our energy system, Ida, Pingala, and Sushumna are considered the most significant, central to our well-being and the flow of Prana in the body.
Originating at the base of the spine, Ida Nadi spirals up the spine and terminates in the left nostril. It is associated with the feminine, lunar, and cooling aspects of our energy. Ida corresponds to the tamasic quality of nature (“Cool, white, lunar, Moon-flow”). Activating Ida through breathing primarily through the left nostril, known as ‘chandra bhedana’ or ‘moon activating’ breath, also stimulates the sympathetic or ‘rest and digest’ part of the nervous system. This practice has various benefits, such as controlling the right side of brain activity, reducing stress levels, and aiding sleep.
Beginning at the base of the spine, Pingala Nadi spirals upward and ends at the right nostril. It represents the masculine, solar, and warming aspects of our energy. Activating Pingala through breathing primarily through the right nostril, known as ‘surya bhedana’ or ‘sun activating’ breath, impacts the sympathetic nervous system, putting the body into a state of alertness and readiness. This practice increases circulation, body temperature, cortisol levels, blood pressure, and heart rate.
Sushumna Nadi runs straight up the spine, connecting the base to the crown of the head. It is the central channel that links the other two main Nadis, Ida and Pingala, and is associated with spiritual growth and enlightenment. When the energy in Ida and Pingala is balanced, Sushumna Nadi is activated, allowing for the flow of Kundalini energy—a powerful force leading to spiritual awakening.
Role of the Nadis
Prana, the life force energy, is the foundation of our existence, fueling our physical, mental, and emotional well-being. The Nadis serve as channels for the distribution of Prana throughout the body. One can balance the body’s energy through the practice of Pranayama (the art of assimilating life energy through breathing techniques), as breath is directly related to both energy levels and the physical body.
Balanced breathing through the nostrils enhances coordination and synchronicity between the two hemispheres of the brain.
Ida Nadi and Pingala Nadi
On either side of Sushumna Nadi, two channels of energy support balanced physical and mental energy: Ida and Pingala. These channels, running from the tailbone to the third eye or Ajna Chakra, carry masculine and feminine energy. Ida Nadi is active when the left nostril and right brain are dominant, while Pingala Nadi is active when the right nostril and left brain are dominant.
Our body, with its ordinary and extraordinary parts, contains ‘sensitive areas’—delicate and useful parts housing important centers of spiritual energies. Among these, the Merudand or spinal cord predominates. This Merudand, made up of tiny bony parts, is the foundation of the human body, containing subtle special energies related to Super Divine Powers. The energies of deities such as Vasus, Adityas, Rudras, Indra, and Prajapati are present in seed form within the Merudand.
According to Anatomy Science, the hollow Merudand contains many nerves performing various tasks. In Spiritual Science, three chief nerves within Sushumna are called Ida, Pingala, and Sushumna. Though not visible through dissection, these are related to the subtle unseen world—a flow of human electricity. Ida is considered negative, Pingala positive, and their union manifests as Sushumna.
Symbolically, this union is akin to the confluence of the Ganga and Yamuna rivers forming the unseen third river, Saraswati. Similarly, when Ida and Pingala unite, Sushumna is created—a threefold flow associated with the middle of the brain, Brahmarandhra or Sahasrar.
Within Sushumna, another threefold union exists, called Baja Chitrani or Brahma Naadi. This sensitive center is the essence of divine energy, located at the center of the brain and spreading out as Sahasrar Kamal or 1000 petal lotus. Sahasrar Kamal is related to subtle cosmic energies and serves as the Ariel of the brain, capturing infinite energies from various subtle worlds.
Brahma Naadi, the subtlest nerve, coils within Sushumna and binds to the atoms of the black Shatakona or six-sided cone at the base of Merudand. This binding forms Kundalini or Divine Serpent Power—a vital aspect of spiritual awakening. Kundalini, coiling around the Kurma Shatakona, represents the union of husband and wife, analogous to the union of Brahma Naadi and Prana Energy.
In spiritual terms, the Kurma Shatakona, symbolically a tortoise, binds life to the Prana Energy. Kundalini, the weaving area of Brahma Naadi to Kurma Shatakona, is the essence of divine energy. This spiritual Triveni (threefold) reaches and stops in the middle of the genitals and anus, representing the beginning and end of this divine flow.
Sahasrar Kamal, with its 1000 petals, is related to worldwide cosmic energies. The awakened 1000 hoods of Shesha serpent attract infinite types of divine energies, influencing not only ordinary beings but also souls in the subtle world. This spiritual symbolism emphasizes the profound connection between the physical body, Prana Energy, and the subtle divine forces.
Look for part 2 of this article in next month’s edition.