Imagine the rush of energy that you experience when you are excited. Try to feel the channels throughwhich the energy flows out during such experiences. At first this may seem incomprehensible, but these energy flows may be traced when you focus. Modern science explains this process in terms of nerve impulses, but the ancient seers perceived it as energy and consciousness flowing through interconnected channels in our body called nadis, which form an energy network.The word nadi means ‘flow’. Thus nadis are subtle flows of energy, just as electricity, radio waves and laser beams are subtle flows. Nadis relate to the energy in our body and should not be confused with nerves, which relate to the physical body. Nadis are pathways of pranic, mental and spiritual currents, which form a matrix throughout the physical body. They provide energy to every cell, and every organ through their vast network, carrying prana back and forth in every direction.
Network of Nadis beneath our physical body
Nadis are not physical, measurable or dissecting structures within the body, but channels of energy which underlie beneath the physical organs and help us sustain life and consciousness. In higher states of consciousness the nadis can actually be seen as flows of energy, as described by the yogis. They can be perceived at psychic levels as distinct channels of light, colour and sound. Scientific research has been carried out to verify the existence of the nadis. Dr Hiroshi Motoyama pioneered this research and found a stable voltage of electromagnetic currents flowing within close proximity to our nervous system, which he cited as evidence that the nadis existed.
The network of nadis is so subtle and vast that even the yogic texts differ in calculation of their exact number. References in the Goraksha Samhita and Hatha Yoga Pradipika place the number at 72,000.The Prapanchasara Tantra gives the number of 300,000; while the Shiva Samhita states that 350,000 nadis emerge from the navel centre.
Major Nadis in our Body
Out of the thousands nadis, which include all the major and minor flows, seventy-two are important. Out of these seventy-two, ten are considered to be major.
Among the ten major pranic flows, three are most significant:
These three major nadis are situated in the spinal column and pass through every chakra.
- Ida nadi is the mental channel
- Pingala nadi is the vital channel
- Sushumna nadi is the spiritual channel. Ida, pingala and sushumna are the three main channels for the distribution of energy throughout the entire pranic network. Maximum pranic charges flow through them and they impact the entire network instantly; These three nadis are like the high voltage wires that conduct the energy from the substations or chakras situated along the spinal column to all the other nadis.
After ida, pingala and sushumna, the seven lesser major nadis include:
- Vishwodari.For all practical purposes, however, one need only concentrate on ida, pingala and sushumna, as these three govern the whole system of the nadis and all the body processes.
In pranayama and prana vidya the practitioner works chiefly with these three channels. These three paths are also known as ganga (ida), yamuna (pingala) and saraswati (sushumna) after the three most important rivers in India, the last being an underground flow. The junction where these three rivers join is called Prayag, located outside Allahabad in north India. In our pranic body, they converge at ajna chakra. Pingala is also known as the surya, or solar nadi, and ida is known as the chandra, or lunar nadi. Ida and pingala indicate time, while sushumna is the devour-er of time, since it leads to timelessness or eternity.
Location of the Nadis in our Human Body
The system of kundalini yoga describes mooladhara chakra as the main as the main network of nadis in the pranic body. Ida, pingala and sushumna originate here.Ida and Pingala then flow alternately, coiling around the spinal passage from left to right. Sushumna flows straight up through the middle of our body. Ida emerges from the left of mooladhara.Pingala emerges from the right, and sushumna flows straight up through the centre. From mooladhara chakra, pin- gala curves to the right and crosses swadhisthana, goes to the left to mani-pura, then to the right to anahata, to the left to vishuddhi, to the right to ajna at the top of the spine and then straight to sahasrara.
Ida follows a similar path, but on the opposite side. As pingala goes to the right, ida crosses to the left and so on. As ida and pingala cross over at each chakra, their energy currents get scattered via the network of nadis to all the respective organs and parts of the body. In this way the matrix of nadis carries these two opposite forces to every cell, organ and part of the body. Ida governs the left side of the body and pingala the right.
This can be explained with the analogy of a magnet. If a magnet is cut in half, either end of the magnet assumes opposite polarity. Similarly, the body is polarized, so that pingala governs the right side and ida the left. The central
axis of ida and pingala is sushumna. This nadi is the mystical path of yoga that flows in between ida and pingala. Sushumna rises straight up through the centre of the spine, uniting with ida and pingala at the points where they cross the chakras, and uniting with them at ajna chakra. Sushumna is the pathway through which the kundalini
rises, and forms the basis for the progressive awakening as well as higher knowledge.
[ READ MORE : Chakra Shuddhi ]
However, this pathway remains dor-mant in most people until a higher state of evolution or consciusness is reached. The inner structure of sushumna comprises of three subtler nadis, which become active when the sushumna is awakened. Inside sushumna is vajra nadi.This nadi contains chitra or chitrini nadi, and at the centre is brahma nadi, the subtlest flow. Brahma nadi is so called because the higher levels of consciousness are directly activated via this nadi. When the kundalini shakti passes through this channel, transcendental experiences take place.