Nadis are astral channels made up of astral matter that carries pranic energy. Nadi literally translates as flow, motion or current. The nadis are not the nerves and are 72,000 in number. Ida, Pingala and Sushumna are the important nadis, with Sushumna, the most important of all.
“The naḍis penetrate the body from the soles of the feet to the crown of the head. In them is praṇa, the breath of life and in that life abides Atman, which is the abode of Shakti, creatrix of the inanimate and animate worlds.” – quote from Varaha Upanishad.
Similar with the chakras, these nadis are not located in the physical body, though nerves of the physical body can be considered as their corresponding physical manifestations. These energetic structures connect one energy center to another and work to direct and transfer energetic vibrations, where is need it.
Ida nadi meaning, functions, and characteristics
In Sanskrit, the word ”ida” represents “comfort”. This nadi is white in color and is considered to be the lunar nadi, cool and nurturing by nature. Ida nadi controls all the mental processes and the feminine characteristics of our personality. In addition, it looks after our emotional life and our past.
Ida is passive, feminine and introvert; it is also known as the Moon or Chandra nadi. This energetic channel originates from the left side of Muladhara chakra and ends up in the left nostril.
Pingala nadi meaning, functions, and characteristics
In Sanskrit, the word ”pingala” represents “tawny”. This nadi is red in color and originates from the right side of Muladhara chakra and ends up in the right nostril. This energetic channel oversees the masculine characteristics of our personality and controls all vital somatic processes. Pingala nadi is extrovert, active, masculine, and is also known as the Sun or Surya nadi.
These two channels represent the two opposite forces flowing within us. The Ida and Pingala Nadi alternatively take control of the circulation of the energy throughout the body.
They are usually seen as referring to the two hemispheres of the brain. Ida, lunar nadi, corresponds to the right hemisphere of the brain. Pingala, solar nadi, corresponds to left hemisphere.
Ida nadi controls the function of the parasympathetic nervous system, which calms the physical body and mind and the left side of the body. Pingala nadi controls the left side of the brain (which is linear and logical) and the right side of the body. Additionally, Ida nadi governs all the mental processes and Pingala nadi governs all the vital processes.
Sushumna nadi meaning, functions, and characteristics
This central nadi flows vertically, along the course of but slightly in front of the spinal column, from the perineum to the crown of the head. This energetic channel is the sustainer of the creation and the path of complete liberation. The color is silvery.
Sushumna nadi is called Brahmanadi, or the nadi of the Absolute. Some spiritual teachers refer to it as the wisdom or Shanti nadi. In Buddhist Yoga, it is also called the Avadhuti.
When Kundalini energy is awakened, it will pass through this channel and this is possible only when all the nadis of the practitioner are pure. Hence, the most important step in Kundalini Yoga is the complete purification of the 72,000 nadis.
Once the Kundalini energy has been awakened and raised up the Sushumna nadi to the top of the head, in the Sahasrara chakra, many siddhis may appear, such as – special sight, inner sounds, and insights can be perceived.
When the central energetic channel becomes completely active and purified, the concentration of the mind becomes stronger, therefore results in the powerful and profound meditation. Any blockages and impurities present in this nadi can be noticed at the time of meditation practice, as the power of meditation becomes feeble or greatly lesser.
Purification of the 72,000 nadis
The most powerful way of balancing the nadis is with the practice of pranayama. Pranayama is a breathing method, developed by the ancient yogis for the purpose of Kundalini awakening.
Constant practice of Pranayama can lead to many health benefits for the practitioner, like – the brightening of the gastric fire, the purification of the nadis, hearing spiritual sounds, or increased energy.
For a specific purification of Ida and Pingala, there is a breathing exercise, called Nadi Shodhana or alternate-nostril breathing.
Benefits of this simple yet powerful Pranayama exercise include:
- settles the body, mind, and emotions;
- reduces stress, anxiety and panic attacks;
- purifies the blood and respiratory system;
- clears and releases toxins;
- strengthens the respiratory system;
- calms and balances the nervous system and the hormones;
- helps to relieve headaches;
- infuses the body with oxygen.
Learn how to practice Nadi Shodhana here.