The Nadis: The Life Force Energy Channels
In Western yoga, the main emphasis is placed on the chakras. Eastern yoga, especially Kundalini, places equal emphasis on the nadis, or energy channels, through which energy moves from one chakra to the other. They are also referred to as channels for the flow of consciousness. In addition to the nadis that join the seven major chakras, there are hundreds of minor nadis.
In chakra meditation, we focus on the vertical line of nadis connecting the seven chakras. Each chakra has additional nadis. The number of petals in a chakra symbol tells us how many nadis reside at each major chakra. The four petals of the root chakra, for example, represent four nadis. Each nadi has a Sanskirt symbol that corresponds with its vibrational frequency. The in-depth information given by Kundalini practitioners on specific nadis is very useful during meditation. For example, it is helpful to know that during meditation the crown nadi may look like a black tunnel just before you break through to the crown chakra.
Many meditations limit the potential of the nadis by focusing only on the upward movement of energy flow through the nadis. The flow of energy actually follows an infinitely looping spiral. Once a change is made at the crown chakra, it may be necessary to make adjustments in lower chakras. A number of meditations and exercises focus on speeding up and balancing the spinning energy vortexes, charkas, and concentrating on the spiral energy flow through the charka energy system, including Tibetan Buddhism’s Five Rites and Qigong, respectively.
At the core is the Sushumna Nadi, which runs parallel to the spine. The object when meditating is to let the breath flow through the Sushuman nadi until a steady breath is achieved. When there are blockages among the nadis, the breath will not be able to smoothly flow through the Sushuman nadi, Breathing excercises, called Pranayamas, purify the nadis.
Ida and Pingala Meditation
Ida and Pingala nadis are integral to achieving balance because they correspond with the sympathetic and para-sympathetic systems, respectively—nerve cells that run on the right and left side of the spine and regulate our organs. You may be familiar with their function through the fight-or-flight response. When we face a threat or stress, the sympathetic nervous system accelerates our heart rate, blood pressure and sweating. The parasympathetic system decelerates this process regulating the body. Meditations on the Ida and Pingala help to balance both the physical and astral body.
When we alternately block the right and left side of our nostrils during breathing exercises, we are activating Ida and Pingala. In the process, we are subtly restoring balance to our organs and regulating the bodily system.
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