Part of yoga is about igniting our inner fires and stimulating our internal energies. You may remember our brief introduction to the seven chakras, which are the hubs of energy stretching along our spines. Another aspect of our subtle body is the nadis.
Nadi is Sanskrit for “channel” or “flow,” and each nadi in your body acts as a channel through which energy flows. The number of nadis within your body is highly disputed, but there are three principle nadis that flow through the chakras.
Here is a brief introduction to the nadis and how you can direct prana (life energy) through the nadis with yoga and breathing exercises.
What are Nadis?
Yoga philosophy teaches that each person has life energy called prana that flows throughout their body. The nadis are the pathways, or rivers, that prana flows through.
If the nadis are blocked up, prana cannot flow properly, and you may end up feeling unbalanced. You could experience physical and mental distress.
Three core nadis circulate through the body. These pathways occasionally cross over each other. When all three meet, they form one of the major chakras.
Introducing the Three Main Nadis
The three major channels run along your spine, starting at the base and moving up towards the crown of your head.
The Pingala Nadi is often called the right channel because it starts at the base of your spine then moves to the right side of your body. From there, it weaves in and out of the seven chakras along your spine. Finally, its path ends in the right nostril of your nose. The Pingala Nadi is the origin of prana. It is also considered the yang side of your personality. It fosters strength, masculinity, and light.
The Ida Nadi is known as the left channel because it begins at the root chakra then moves to the left side of your body. Then, like the Pingala Nadi, it flows back and forth along the spine. Its path ends in the left nostril. The Ida Nadi is the channel for your mental energy. It is often associated with the yin side of your personality. It’s the house for your softer, more feminine, and more mysterious traits.
The Sushumna Nadi is the central nadi that runs the length of your spine—from the base of your spine to the crown of your head. The Pingala and Ida Nadis crisscross over this nadi, forming the chakras. The Sushumna Nadi is the channel for your spiritual awareness. When the Sushumna Nadi is balanced, you’ll feel enlightened, fulfilled, and open to more divine parts of life.
How to Stimulate Your Nadis with Yoga
Yoga practices that harness the sun and moon energies ignite and unblock the nadi system. Slower practices like Yin yoga or restorative yoga activate the Ida Nadi. More active practices like Ashtanga yoga stimulate the Pingala Nadi. You can also balance these two nadis with Alternate Nostril Breathing. And you can care for your Sushumna Nadi with poses that target the spine.
Any time you do a practice that targets the seven chakras, you inevitably affect the nadis. So, any time you are feeling unbalanced, try a flow that stimulates the chakras—your nadis will be replenished as well.
Balancing Your Nadis
Caring for yourself includes caring for your inner energies. More than likely, you are already tending to your nadis within your yoga practice, so you probably don’t have to change things up too much. But if you’re ever feeling out of sorts and you’re not sure why, hopefully, this introductory guide to the nadis can give you an idea of how you can find balance again.
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