The word "Nadis" is the plural of the word "Nadi" which means the "flow" or "current". According to the ancient Indian Scriptures, there are 72000 nadis present in the subtle body. A person who have access to his or her subtle body (i.e. he can move on from physical plane of existence to higher planes) see them as light streaks.
In the modern age, they are considered as nerves, but in reality they are made up from much more subtle elements. Like chakras, they are not the part of the physical body although they are present in the same way as the nerves are present in the physical body.
Nadis are the pathways to the flow of the Life force. Out of numerous nadis present in the subtle body, ten are main and out of these ten, three are most important namely Ida, Pingala and Sushumna. Even in these three, Sushumna is the most important one.
Sushumna Nadi is a spiritual passage situated in the centre of the spinal cord. It originates from Muladhara Chakra goes straight through spinal Cord and terminates in the Crown Chakra (Sahasrara Chakra) in the upper part of your forehead.
Ida nadi originates from Muladhara Chakra, travels through left of Muladhara chakra crossing each chakra through left and right consecutively in a serpentine manner and terminates in the Third eye chakra (Ajna Chakra) from the left direction.
Pingala nadi originates from Muladhara Chakra, travels through right of Muladhara chakra crossing each chakra through left and right consecutively in a serpentine manner and terminates in the Third eye chakra (Ajna Chakra) from the right direction.
Ida and Pingala represents the two opposite energies present in our body. Ida posseses passive, introvert and feminine characteristics, and is also known as "Chandra (Moon) Nadi". Pingala possesses active, extrovert and manly characteristics, and is also known as "Surya (Sun) Nadi".
Flow of Prana and Breath
Ida, Pingala and Sushumna Nadi are the currents of Prana which flows continuously through the body. In a particular moment, which current of prana flow is active can be determined by observing the flow of breath through your nostrils.
If breath is flowing more through your left nostril, it indicates that Ida nadi is dominating in your body and if breath flow is more in right nostril, it signifies that Pingala nadi is more active.
If breath flow is equal in both the nostrils, it means that Sushumna Nadi is active in your body.
When right nostril intakes more amount of breath i.e. your pingala nadi is active, it means that your body is performing more physical functions, digestive process etc and your life force is being used in these processes. In this state, you mood will be extrovert and you will feel more warmth in your body.
Whereas if you left nostril intakes more amount of breath, it signifies that you mind is more active and introvert. You can perform any mental task with more efficiency in this state.
In night, if you pingala nadi becomes active, you will feel unrest and improper sleep. In the same way, at the time of lunch if your ida nadi becomes more active then your digestive system will slow down and you may experience constipation.
Nadis and changes in the breath flow patterns
All our daily activities are affected by the change in the flow in these nadis. The flow changes from one nadi to another in approximately 60 to 90 minutes. But through the yogic practices like Some asanas and pranayamas, one can change the flow in nadi as per his or her wish.
For instance, if your Ida nadi is more active and you need to perform some physical work, you can deliberately change the flow to Pingala nadi so as to have more energy available for physical task. In the same way, if your pingala nadi is more active and you need to do some study or any such mental task, you can change flow to Ida nadi according to your wish.
The purpose of Hatha Yoga!
The main purpose of hatha yoga is to balance the flow of prana in Ida and Pingala Nadis.
The word "Hatha" is made up by joining two words "Ha" (representing the Sun energy) and "tha" (representing the moon energy). In order to balance these two energies, one has to purify his or her physical body by the six practices of Shatkarma.
The purpose of hatha yoga is to balance these two energies in such a way so that no one particular energy is more active than other. When Ida and Pingala nadi balances and the flow of prana regulates in the body, then the most important nadi in the body i.e. Sushumna activates and prana starts flowing through it.
In order to be successful in meditation and to access the higher levels in the meditation, the flow of prana through Sushumna is necessary. If pingala is active during meditation, there will be unrest in the physical body and if Ida nadi is active, the consciousness will wander around and mind will be at unease.
Also, when kundalini awakens, it follows the path to the higher chakras through Sushumna. Hence it is mandatory to awaken Sushumna nadi in order for kundalini to progress its journey to the Crown Chakra.
Nadis and the Nervous system
In the physical body, Ida and pingala nadis are similar to the Parasympathetic and Sympathetic nervous systems respectively.
Sympathetic nervous system responds to the external environment and govern the related bodily functions. It is responsible for the fast execution of the related processes in the body like increasing the heart beat rate, expanding the blood vessels, increasing the breath rate and highten the sensitivity of the senses like ears, eyes and nose.
On the other hand, parasympathetic nervous system performs the exact opposite functions of sympathetic nervous system. It calms down the body, decreases the heart beat rate and breathing flow, contracts the blood vessels and brings body to a more peaceful and relaxed state.
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