Idâ, Pingalâ & Sushumnâ
There are three fundamental nadis or energy channels in the human system according to yogic philosophy, the Idâ, Pingalâ and Sushumna. The 72,000 nadis in the body spring from these three basic nadis – the left, the right and the central – the Idâ, Pingalâ, and Sushumna.
The word “nadi” shouldn't be confused with nerves. Nadis are pathways or channels of Prāṇa. Prāṇa means vitality, aliveness. Prāṇa is the subtle life force/breathe. The 72,000 nadis in the human system don’t however have a physical manifestation. This means if you cut the body and look inside, you will not find them. They are in the Prāṇamaya kośa, the vital sheath in the subtle body. As you become more aware, you will start to feel their impact.
The System of nadi's is not superficial. This system is deep towards to the core of our being. This system that comprises the nadi's is the most beautiful part of us according to the yogi's. This is our Being. This is beauty, grace, strength and "adamantine hardness" but at the same time it has the softness of a lotus flower. This core of our being is strong yet fragile. Masculine yet feminine. It is as if a lotus flower that is made of diamonds. Or a diamond that is made from a lotus flower. All opposite meet at the core of our being.
The Hatha Yoga Pradīpikā says that hatha yoga is the union of the two energy forces in the core of your body, the energy flowing in Idâ and Pingalâ nadis. Usually, these two forces do not operate simultaneously; either the mental force predominates or the vital energy is dominant. This creates an imbalance within the human system. Hatha yoga is the process of balancing the flow of these two alternating forces to bring perfect physical and mental equilibrium and awakening of sushumna and kundalini. Yoga aims to unite these two energies and channelise them through the third nadi, sushumna. When this happens, there is an awakening for the yogi.
The Idâ and Pingalâ represent the basic duality in the existence according to Sadhguru Jagi Vasudev. It is this duality which we traditionally personify as Shiva and Shakti. Without these two dualities, life wouldn’t exist as it does right now.
Idâ, lies to the left of the spine and is the feminine 🚺 Shakti energy within. This is also lunar/moon energy.
Pingalâ, lies to the right of the spine and is the masculine 🚹 Shiva energy within. This is also the solar/sun energy.
Sushumna, the central nadi, is the most significant aspect of our physiology. This is where the serpent kundalini 🐍 energy travels. When there is a balance between Idâ and Pingalâ, Sushumna is activated.
The yogi searches for a balance between Idâ and Pingalâ. If a person’s Pingalâ is very pronounced, then outgoing, exploratory qualities will be dominant. If the ida is more pronounced, receptive and reflective qualities will be dominant. Whether one is a man or woman has nothing to do with this according to Sadhguru. Masculine and feminine energies are not referred to in terms of sex – about being male or female – but in terms of certain qualities in nature. Certain qualities in nature have been identified as masculine. Certain other qualities have been identified as feminine. You may be a man, but if your Idâ is more pronounced, the feminine may be dominant in you. You may be a woman, but if your Pingalâ is more pronounced, the masculine may be dominant in you.
The Hatha Yoga Pradīpikā says the object of hatha yoga practice is to increase the duration and flow of Sushumna and the period when both nostrils flow simultaneously so that a balance is created in the physical and mental functions. When the mind and body are not functioning in harmony, there is a division between the physical and mental rhythms, which inevitably leads to sickness.
The three nadis (Idâ, Pingalâ and sushumna) are said to terminate in the Ājñā chakra, the psychic centre which is situated in the region of the medulla oblongata and the pineal gland. Through the practice of yoga, Idâ and Pingalâ are equalised, sushumna is activated and the Ājñā chakra is awakened.
Idâ is connected to the left nostril and the right brain hemisphere. Pingalâ is connected to the right nostril and the left brain hemisphere. In the same way that the right hemisphere governs the left side of the body, on a pranic level ida also controls the functions of the left side of the body. Likewise, Pingalâ and the left hemisphere govern the right side of the body. Just as the brain hemispheres and the nostrils alternate their functions in ninety minute cycles, so do ida and Pingalâ.
The following is excerpted from BKS Iyengar's - Yoga The Path to Holistic Health.
"Every person has two facets of energy: the Pingalâ or the surya nadi (masculine energy/sun) and the Idâ or the chandra nadi (feminine energy/moon). The sun is positive energy representing heat and daytime activity. The moon is negative energy representing coolness and nighttime restfulness. Mr Iyengar understood the importance of creating the perfect balance between the right (surya nadi) and left (chandra nadi) sides of the body. Alignment and precision allow the energies to work, interact, intermingle, and unite, bringing about health and balance. Optimum energy is used in the correct practice of yoga and leads the practitioner to a state of equilibrium (samatvam). The Bhagvad Gita scripture states: Samatvam yoga uchyate (Yoga is the state of equilibrium). Sage Patanjali, who wrote the treatise Yoga Sutras, explains that the differentiation between the muscles, limbs, joints, organs, mind, intelligence, and self has to disappear to reach this state of equanimity. Mr Iyengar ensures that students bring more of their consciousness into each asana, through precise instructions and demonstrations. Through this they begin to experience equilibrium."
The following is excerpted from The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda - Raja Yoga, The Control Of The Psychic Prana → CHAPTER IV.
"According to the Yogis, there are two nerve currents in the spinal column, called Pingalâ 🌞 and Idâ 🌚, and a hollow canal called Sushumnâ running through the spinal cord. At the lower end of the hollow canal is what the Yogis call the "Lotus of the Kundalini". They describe it as triangular in form in which, in the symbolical language of the Yogis, there is a power called the Kundalini 🐍, coiled up. When that Kundalini 🐍 awakes, it tries to force a passage through this hollow canal, and as it rises step by step, as it were, layer after layer of the mind becomes open and all the different visions and wonderful powers come to the Yogi. When it reaches the brain, the Yogi is perfectly detached from the body and mind; the soul finds itself free."
Earliest Nadi references:
Several of the ancient Upanishads use the concept of nadis (channels). Nadi system is mentioned in the Chāndogyopaniṣad (composed 8th to 6th century BCE).
"In the heart verily is Jivātma. Here a hundred and one nāḍis arise. For each of these nāḍis there are one hundred nāḍikās. For each of these there are thousands more. In these Vyâna moves."
Commentary on Ida by the mystic Osho Rajneesh.
"Yoga has a special science of its own concerning energy-channels, but modern physiology does not agree with it. Scientists have not found the energy-channels described by yoga anywhere inside the human body, and the channels which they have found are not in agreement with the ones mentioned by yoga. Yogis have made much effort in this, especially yogis that have been educated in the West. Also physicians and physiologists who know yoga have tried their best to find some similarity between the energy-channels of yoga and the ones discovered by modern science, but their effort could not succeed because it is based on a basic misunderstanding. It will be good if we can understand this misunderstanding."
"The energy-channels that yoga has spoken about are not of the physical body, hence they cannot be found in this physical body. And the people who try to prove the similarity between the energy-channels of the physical body and the energy-channels of yoga are not doing yoga any good: they are harming it, because yoga is talking about another body altogether - the subtle body, the energy-body which is hidden within the body. It is not gross, it is subtle. By “subtle” is meant that it is made of energy; it is the energy-body. Russian scientists have called it “bio-electricity”: it is their name for this energy-body."
1.Iyengar, B.K.S., 2014. Yoga - The Path to Holistic Health. 1st ed. UK: DK; UK ed. edition (16 Jan. 2014)
2.Mascaro (Translator), J., 2005. The Upanishads (Classics). 1st ed. London: Penguin Classics; New Impression edition (24 Feb. 2005).
3.Muktibodhananda, S, 2016. Hatha Yoga Pradipika. 1st ed. London: Bihar School of Yoga,India; 4th Rep edition (9 Jan. 1998).
4.Rajneesh, O, 2013. The Path of Yoga: Discovering the Essence and Origin of Yoga. 1st ed. UK: Osho Media International; Revised Edition edition (25 April 2013)
5.Rajneesh, O, 2010. The Book of Secrets: 112 Meditations to Discover the Mystery Withi. 1st ed. UK: Griffin; New, Revised ed. edition (4 Oct. 2010).
6.Rajneesh, O, 2010. The Message beyond Words: The Illusion of Death and the Reality of Living. 1st ed. Kathmandu: Osho Media International; 2010 edition (1 April 2010).
7.Satyananda Swami, S, 2008. Kundalini Tantra: 1. 1st ed. London: Bihar school of Yoga; second edition edition (8 Oct. 2008).
8.Swami Vivekananda, S, 2015. Raja Yoga: Including Patanjali's Yoga Aphorisms - The Control Of The Psychic Prana → CHAPTER IV.. 4th ed. London: Jazzybee Verlag (18 Jun. 2015).
9.Vasudev, J., 2016. Inner Engineering: A Yogi's Guide to Joy. 1st ed. London: Random House Inc (20 Sept. 2016).