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Breathwork has the innate power to transform your life. When you engage in pranayama, you will find that you start to reap countless physical and spiritual rewards. You may already have seen the benefits for yourself. But how does it all happen?
So that you can learn how pranic energy manifests in the body, you must know about the nadis. These are channels that run through your subtle body, much like passages. Understanding how they work will help inform your further breathwork activities.
What Does Nadis Mean?
Before we delve into the power of nadis, you may be wondering what this term means. The word ‘Nadi’ (or sometimes, ‘Nada’) derives from sanskrit. The beautiful and powerful word means ‘to flow’ or ‘flowing river’ depending on the translation.
The simplest way to understand nadis is as channels in our body. Prana — the intense life force — runs through our body on a daily basis. Every living being on the planet has prana and you can shift the way that it flows through the breathwork tasks in which you engage.
It may be helpful to you to think of nadis as a map on your body. Each one is a passage that allows the prana to run smoothly from place to place. Much like a pipe carries water, each nadi allows the natural flow of energy to move within your body over time.
Needless to say, it is a wondrous process and one that we should not take for granted. As you move through your Kundalini Yoga journey, you will discover the intense benefits of pranayama. The more you understand this fascinating topic, the easier this will become.
How Many Nadis Are There in Our Bodies?
While — for the purposes of this article — we will be focusing on the three fundamental nadis, you may want to know how many there are in total. There are many ancient texts that have disputed this very question. For that reason, the true answer may be unknown.
However, we can say that there is a vast amount of nadis in the body. Theologists have reported that there may be between 300,000 and 350,000 nadis in the human body.
Despite the fact that there are thousands of nadis within us, we do not have a clear account of each of them. Yogic masters have identified only 14 most important nadis.
These include: Ida, Pingala, Sushumna, Gandhari, Hasti Jihva, Kuhu, Saraswati, Pusha, Shakhini, Payaswini, Varuni, Alambusha, Vishwodari, and Yashaswini. To better understand the role that the nadis play, we look closely at the central three nadis.
The Three Fundamental Nadis, Explained
Next up, let’s move onto the essential information that you must know when you are practicing. The three fundamental nadis are Ida, Pingala, and Sushumna.
These channels run along the spinal cord and core chakras. When we talk about the nadis as a trio, we often use the central term ‘Trividha Nadi’ to describe them all.
Once these core nadis are lined up along the spine, we can see that they look like a stalk of lotus when it is facing downwards. That symbolism comes up frequently in ancient texts.
It may be helpful to understand the position of the nadis. The Ida is located on the left while the Pinglala is towards the right of the Sushumna. The two other nadis spiral around the Sushumna nadi to create a double-helix shape. At key points the two channels cross one another — this is how we form the chakras in the human body.
Also described as the ‘fountain of great joy’, the Sushumna nadi is all about balance and a sense of calmness. Located at the center of the spinal cord, this channel plays a major role in how we experience emotions and whether we can reach high levels of happiness.
It is the central system. Through this divine channel pranic energy may run smoothly from the bottom of the spine to the crown of the head. It is the main flow system within the body and, thus, we put a lot of emphasis on it while we are practicing breathwork.
Symbolizing the moon, the Ida nadi nourishes both the mind and body. Oftentimes, it is linked to feminine aspects of the personality. Those who have a strong Ida energy running throughout their bodies will be nurturing and caring to all the people around them.
Signs Your Ida Nadi is Blocked
- Poor digestion
- Failing to sleep
- Passive behavior
- Bad habits
- Low assertiveness
When your Ida nadi is blocked, you may struggle to assert yourself in social situations. Often, this leads to individuals being people-pleasers and allowing others to walk all over them. You may also notice some physical side effects of this channel being out of sync.
The Pingala nadi is linked to masculine energy. It has a fast pace and is often considered to be the active nadis with a lot to give. The stimulating nature of this nadi is said to help you maintain your body temperature. Aside from that, it may symbolize logic and thinking.
Signs Your Pingala Nadi is Blocked
- Increase appetite
- Irritability or anger
- Dry skin and throat
- Formation of ulcers
- Nighttime fevers
When your Pingala nadi is blocked, the repercussions will run through every area of your life. People who have this problem often find that they are hot-headed or easily angered. They may get annoyed at the slightest of inconveniences. Additionally, you may start to experience some physical problems, such as a dryness of the skin and even fevers.
Within this chapter, we have covered the wonders of the fundamental nadis. Each of these channels plays its part in your pranic journey. Now that you are well-versed on each of them, you can use the information to move forward in your practice. If you are interested, you can also delve deeper into the realms of pranayama (or breathwork) and learn more about various nadis. Why not do some independent research into this topic?
See more: Learn the Meditative Breathing Practice: Sitali Pranayama