Channels of Prana

   
The physical body is a storehouse of prana, and each fiber of the body is connected with prana by a complex system of nadis - subtle channels through which pranic forces flow. The word nadi comes from the Sanskrit word nada which means flow or current. Nadis provide energy, and operate within a vast network which penetrates the body from the soles of the feet to the crown of the head. Nadis are known as meridians in ancient Chinese tradition.
 
The function of the nadis can be compared to that of an electrical system. Energy is distributed in our physical body in the same way that an electrical system distributes energy from the generating station to our home. Where there is no electricity there is no light, just as where there is no prana there is no life. Nadis correspond to the nerves but they are not part of the physical body and can only be seen if one’s perception is finely attuned to more subtle levels. According to Goraksha Sartaka there are 72,000 nadis in the body, of which three are the most important – Sushumna, Ida and Pingala.

Sushumna nadi is the most powerful channel which is rooted at the perineum (muladhara, first chakra), and rises through the centre of the spinal column straight up to the crown of the head (sahasrara, seventh chakra). Ida nadi originates from the left side of muladhara and spirals up the spinal cord, passing through each chakra in turn, forming a criss-cross route which ends at the left nostril. Pingala nadi originates from the right side of muladhara and passes in an opposite manner to that of ida, criss-crossing it at each chakra and ending at the right nostril. These two channels represent the two opposite forces flowing within us. Ida nadi is cooling, feminine, negative, passive, relaxing and introverting; it is also known as the chandra or moon nadi. Pingala is heating, masculine, positive, active, energizing and extroverting, and is called the surya or sun nadi.

The flow of breath in each nostril is intimately connected with various dual functions such as right and left brain hemisphere activity, sympathetic/ parasympathetic dominance, action and relaxation. It can be said that we are dominated by these cyclic fluctuations, and that these fluctuations are reflected in the breath, most notably within the breath in each nostril. When the left nostril flows more freely that the right, Ida is activated, and the body remains cool, this is the right time for profound thought, meditation or asana practice. When the breath is flowing predominantly through the right nostril, Pingala is activated, so the body becomes more heated and the mind and body are prepared for physical activity in the material world. Thus the breath should  be flowing through the left or both nostrils during meditative yoga practices.
 
 
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Asanas

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Pranayama

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