Gruninger: Yoga Philosophy, The Nadis (Energy Channels)

Many Eastern traditions believe the body is filled with what is often called energy channels. Courtesy image

By JACCI GRUNINGER, MS, C-IAYT
Los Alamos

Many Eastern traditions (Thai massage and acupuncture to name two) believe the body is filled with numerous tubes and channels (often called energy channels). Yoga is no different. The Sanskrit word ‘nadi’ actually translates as tube or flow. In Pranakriya/Kripalu yoga, we call the Nadis channels.

Some examples of tubes include your circulatory, endocrine, and respiratory systems. You might also consider your veins, arteries and capillaries as part of this system of tubes. Our bodies are full of tubes.

The Nadis fall into what the Yogis call the Astral Body.

According to Yogapedia:

According to yogic philosophy, humans have three bodies — the physical, the astral and the causal — which, together, are the vehicle of the soul. The astral body is more subtle than the physical body and it contains prana (life force), the senses and the mind.

In yoga, it is the astral body which contains prana and the system of nadis (energy channels) that carry prana. These are sometimes known as astral tubes.

According to yogic texts, there are 72,000 Nadis in the body (maybe even up to 35,000!). The three main Nadis include Sushumna, Ida and Pingala. You can think of Shushumna like a river and from it flows two main tributaries – pingala and ida. Off Pingala and Ida are many small rivers, creeks etc. Pingala begins on the right side of the pelvis and ends at the right nostril. It is considered our active, masculine, sun side. It is the yang energy channel and is the complement of Ida.

Ida, begins on the left side of the pelvis and ends at your left nostril. It is considered our passive or quiet/calm, feminine and moon side.

As with all things, we want to balance our masculine and feminine energies.

Sushumna is the main energy channel and passes through the center of our spine out through the crown of the head. It represents perfect balance, harmony and union between the various energies in our body – masculine and feminine, sun and moon. When opened or awakened, this energy channel allows for a connection to our greater self or higher consciousness.

In yoga, the Nadis are used to cultivate prana or our lifeforce. If the Nadis are blocked (like having a stuffy nose) our energy levels will be low. Much of yoga practice aims to balance our sun and moon energy (Ha = Sun, Tha = Moon = Hatha Yoga) so we can feel whole and complete. We use asanas (postures), pranayama (breathing practices), meditation, mudras (hand gestures), chanting, and bhandas (locks) to generate energy in the body and clear our channels.

One way to connect with your Nadis and possibly create better energy flow is to practice Nadi Shodhana or Alternate Channel breathing.

Try this:

Sit comfortably on a chair or the floor, spine elongated from pelvis to crown.
Relax your belly and tune in to your breath.
Curl your right middle and pointer finger toward your palm, leaving your thumb, ring and pinky finger extended.
Bring your hand toward your face.
Inhale through both nostrils
Use your right ring finger to gently press against your nostril crease.
Exhale through the left nostril. Inhale through the left nostril.
Use your right thumb to close your left nostril crease, releasing the right ring finger.
Exhale through your right nostril. Inhale through your right nostril.
Repeat steps 6-9 for up to 15 minutes (start with just 3-5 minutes).
When you are finished, release your hands and inhale/exhale through both nostrils.
Sit for a few minutes just noticing how you feel.

This can be a very calming breath but if you feel anxious while exploring it, go back to your natural breath. It might take a few beginnings to settle into it.

About Jacci Gruninger:

Jacci Gruninger is a Certified Yoga Therapist, Thai Yoga Massage Therapist and Focusing Coach. She has been teaching for over two decades and spent 12 of those years training yoga teachers for the Pranakriya School of Yoga Healing Arts. She helps clients manage the ups and downs of life with yoga, meditation, breathwork and bodywork. Her Yoga Therapy Center is at 190 Central Park Square #212. For her teaching schedule and information on other services, visit www.yogawithjacci.com.

One way to connect with your Nadis and possibly create better energy flow is to practice Nadi Shodhana or Alternate Channel breathing. Courtesy photo

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