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Understanding Yoga: Prana and the Three Main Nadis

Angela is a yoga instructor who focuses on healing the body, spirit, and mind with a special focus on healing from trauma.

What is Prana?

Prana is often thought of as the energy that is attained through yoga practice. Some will refer to it as the life force that flows through all things. Prana is most often associated with breathing in yoga and how it "flows" through the Nadis. Although most closely associated with yoga, you can attain it from any sport activity, food, sunlight, and any form of meditation.

What are Nadis?

Nadis are "energetic channels" in the body that energy flows through. There are believed to be 72,000 Nadis, although when doing yoga, we mainly focus on the three main ones. They include the Ida Nadi, Pingala Nadi, and the Sushumna Nadi. One of the purposes of doing yoga is to "cleanse" the Nadis. Although doing regular asanas or poses will help keep your body balanced and healthy, this particular energy flow is mostly associated with yoga's breathing and meditation side. The purpose of trying to achieve this is to find balance in the body. There are breathing techniques that help us find balance in the Nadis, allowing for a better flow of prana. Having a healthy flow will help you in all aspects of your life, whether working at a desk or playing a sport and even in how well your body processes food and blood flowing through your body, which is why being conscious of being balanced is important.

What is Ida Nadi?

As mentioned, there are three main Nadis. One focuses on the creative, lunar, feminine, cooling side, while another focuses on the analytical, solar, masculine, and heating side. This third is the balance between the two.

The Ida Nadi is the energy that flows through the left side of the body. It begins in the pelvis and flows upwards to the left nostril. This Nadi is the feminine energy, as well as thought to be the lunar energy. It is thought to have a cooling effect on the body. This energy line is also thought to be tied to our creative self.

What is Pingali Nadi

The Pingali Nadi is the energy that flows through the right side of the body. It begins on the right side of the pelvis and ends at the right nostril. It is thought to be masculine energy and associated with the sun and causes a heating effect. This line of energy is thought to be connected to our analytical self.

The Ida Nadi and the Pngali Nadi are thought to be the two sides of the hemisphere. Each side tends to be stronger in a person than another. Just because a person is male or female does not mean they will identify with the Nadi that corresponds with their gender.

What is Sushumna Nadi?

While the Ida and Pingala Nadis represent the two sides of the body, Shushumnah Nadi is a centrally located Nadi that begins at the lower spine and flows through the top of the head. It represents balance. If things are balanced in the other two main Nadis, then this Nadi is well functioning and will bring out the health of your body. You can tell if this Nadi is balanced by doing some alternate nostril breathing called Nadi Shodhana. You can also use this same technique to see if there is an imbalance in the body.

Breathing Technique to Balance the Nadis

A good breathing technique to help balance the main Nadis and identify an imbalance in the Sushumna Nadi is by doing some breathing exercises. This breathing exercise is very specific breathing where you alternate between the two nostrils as you inhale and exhale. You first want to take your right hand and place your thumb against the right nostril and index and middle finger against your forehead. You take a nice easy breath in through your left nostril, then exhale through the left nostril. Then release your thumb and press your ring finger against your left nostril, take a deep breath in through your right nostril, then exhale. Continue this for ten breaths on each side—notice which side is easier to breathe on to know if you are balanced in your Nadis.

Other ways to help balance the Nadis are by taking care of your overall health, whether eating well, exercising, or getting enough sleep. All of these can affect how well balanced your body is. An imbalanced body will become sick and weak.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Angela Michelle Schultz

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