Prana – Cosmic Energy or the Universal Life Force
Prana is a Sanskrit word meaning “life” in the context of a “life force” or “vital energy” that fills all living beings with vibrant health and all of nature with a living essence. Prana seems to correspond with the much subtler parts of the Universe such as the spiritual realms. There are many, many names for and aspects of this substance, just there are many names for God, and many aspects of God. Even mainstream science has long postulated the existence of a kind of “ether” that must be responsible for the transmission of light. Later on this “ether” was more accurately defined as some sort of multidimensional geometry of space in a vibration state.Cosmic Energy which is all around us can be express in many way or named with many words with only one meaning: Universal Life Force which is in all living being. To understand what is it and how it is expressing in our body let see what and how it is expressing in our biological body.
In the physical body we have two types of energies. One is known as prana and the other is known as mind or consciousness. That means, in every organ of the body there should be two channels supplying energy. Modern physiology describes two types of nervous systems – the sympathetic and the parasympathetic, and these two nervous systems are interconnected in each and every organ of the body. In the same way, every organ is supplied with the energy of prana and the energy of mind.
Every living thing is infused with prana. It is believed that prana comes from the energy and “light” of the sun and connects all the elements in the known universe. This constant motion/movement is the body’s life-force and source of all life, heat and maintenance.It is believed that this life-giving force enters the body at the moment of birth. Prana is in every part of the body until the body dies. It is your prana that connects the body, mind, and spirit. This is the energy force necessary to keep all the living beings alive.The universal life-force energy (prana) that comes alive within you can be nurtured and nourished to provide a healthy, joy-filled life. In the human body, our prana is fed and nourished by the lungs and the colon.As we breathe in through our lungs we draw in and absorb the essence of prana in the air we breathe. When we eat the colon absorbs the prana found in good well digested food to replenish itself. Through eating and breathing we nourish the prana that we are born with. Feeding the mind and body feeds the spirit and assures good health and happiness.Prana is not only the life force, it is also a very powerful healing force. This energy when sent from one person to another has the possibility of healing the physical body. We are all part of a universal energy, but it requires focus and awareness to become a healer.
In yoga, the concept of prana is very scientific. When we speak of prana, we do not mean the breath, air or oxygen. Precisely and scientifically speaking, prana means the original life force. Prana is a Sanskrit word constructed of the syllables pra and an. ‘An’ means movement and ‘pra’ is a prefix meaning constant. Therefore, prana means constant motion. This constant motion commences in the human being as soon as he is conceived in his mother’s womb. Prana is therefore a type of energy responsible for the body’s life, heat and maintenance. Prana is a common term being widely used in alternative medicine and yoga system. It is originally derived from the Sanskrit language meaning “life energy” (Prā means forth, while an means to breathe, move or live); therefore the nearest English equivalent of this Sanskrit term is “the breath of life.”According to ancient Indian literature, there is only one Life, one Consciousness; and Prana is the energy of the One, from which life begins. Therefore Prana is being used to address the life-energy in every being. There is a conversation in Upanishads between Indra and Pratardana where Indra says: “I am Prana… Meditate on me as life, as immortality. Prana is Life. Life is Prana. Immortality is Prana, Prana is Immortality. As long as Prana dwells in this body, so long surely there is life.”There is another verse which refers to Atma or the Soul from which Prana is born. Indra teaches Visvamitra, a famous Rig Vedic Seer about Prana, in Aitareya Aranyaka II.2.3 saying: “I am Prana… all creatures are Pranas, he that shines is Prana. In this form I pervade all the quarters. This, my food is my friend, my support. This is the food of Visvamitra. I am he that shines.”Therefore Prana can be understood as the life energy which gives life to the body and keeps it healthy and alive. The equivalent of Prana in Hebrew language is ruah, referring to the “breath of life” being called as Nephesch; which was breathed into the nostrils of Adam in the beginning of creation. The same concept exists in Persian philosophy when God breathed into the nostrils of Man the Breath of Life.
Cosmic energy is abundant in the cosmos/universe. To connect with that abundant source of energy you can use chakra breathing exercises or learn energy healing through Meditations.
Prana is generally associated with the breath, however the air you breathe is not the actual life-force energy, nor does the air actually contain the prana. Through the yogic practices of asana and pranayama movement and breathing techniques — you utilize the breath to promote, control, and direct the flow of prana. Life is a guessing game of what the truth really is until there is a truly reliable way to find that truth within one’s self through meditation; but not just any kind of meditation, it must the kind of meditation that is somehow being infused with enough prana or life force energy to allow the soul to go free. When the body is filled with enough prana, all it’s highly disrupting physical needs, thoughts, desires, etc. no longer dominate. That means thirst, hunger, lust, need for love, and even the need to breathe reduces in proportion to the amount of the all-sustaining current of prana present in the body and to the extent the physical body can hold that current.
Prana is often understood in relation to the physical body and health and wellness through the chakras. It is thought that when someone is well and balanced, prana flows freely through the seven major chakras. However, when there are blockages or imbalances, they may manifest as physical or emotional issues.
In the human body, prana is said to flow through energy channels called nadis. There are said to be thousands of nadis, but the three main ones are:
- Ida – Located to the left of the spine. This is the introverted, lunar channel.
- Pingala – Located to the right of the spine. This is the extroverted, solar channel.
- Sushumna – Located along the center of the spine. This is the central channel, which the energy of Kundalini awakening flows through.
Prana is believed to flow in and out of the body through the breath. A yogi may use techniques such as pranayama to enhance their energy. Performing yoga asanas can also help prana to flow more freely.
Prana is infused and moves through the body through 3 primary channels. Actually, it is in every part of the body as long as there is life, but it enters the body flows through the nadis. The 3 nadis are within the structure of the spinal cord. One is called ida (mental energy), another is pingala (pranic energy) and the third is sushumna (spirit consciousness). These three nadis originate in mooladhara chakra (known in Traditional Chinese Medicine as the Root Chakra). Pingala nadi flows to the right from the mooladhara chakra and continues to interweave with the ida at each chakra all the way up to ajna chakra, or the third-eye chakra (sixth primary chakra according to Hindu tradition).
Nadis, chakras and the distribution of prana
Nāḍi (Sanskrit नाडि, nāḍi = tube, pipe) are the channels through which, in traditional Indian medicine and spiritual science, the energies of the subtle body are said to flow. They connect at special points of intensity called chakras.
The word nadi comes from the Sanskrit root nad meaning “channel”, “stream”, or “flow”. The rhythmical breathing and special breathing techniques are supposed to influence the flow of these nadis or energetic currents. According to this kind of interpretation (which is the Yoga interpretation) the breathing techniques will purify and develop these two energetic currents and will lead to breathing special exercises whose goal is to awake kundalini among seven Nadi Chakras in our body. Of the seven, four are in the trunk of the body, two in the head- and there is one in the neck. Chakra is the power center associated with the subtle body of man. Each chakra is ruled by an incarnation of Goddess Parashakti.
Nadis are not nerves but rather channels for the flow of consciousness. The literal meaning of nadi is “flow”. Just as the negative and positive forces of electricity flow through complex circuits, in the same way, prana shako (vital force) and manas shako (mental force) flow through every part of our body via these nadis. According to the tantras there are 72,000 or more such channels or networks,paths on which energy travels in the human body and through which the stimuli flow like an electric current from one point to another. The 72,000 nadis spring from three basic nadis – the left, the right and the central – the Ida, Pingala, and Sushumna. The word “nadi” does not mean nerve. Nadis are pathways or channels of prana in the system. These 72,000 nadis don’t have a physical manifestation. In the sense, if you cut the body and look in, you will not find them. But as you become more aware, you will notice the energy is not moving at random, it is moving in established pathways. There are 72,000 different ways in which the energy or prana moves.Nadis are thought to carry a life force energy known as prana in Sanskrit, or qi in Chinese-based systems. These paths are known as naadies or tubes carrying energy. They are spread through-out the body like roots and shoots of a tree. These energy tubes have their roots attached to seven different energy chakraas located in different spots of the body.These chakraas get energy from the cosmos and supply it down to different parts of the body through the naadies.The most important among these naadies are Ida, Pingla and Sushumna. The balance of praan (energy) in Ida and Pingla is the chief aim of entire Yoga process. We shall discuss about them later on.
Nāḍī (Sanskrit नाडी nāḍī = tube, pipe; Tamil/ˈ/naadi) நாடி = nerve, blood vessel, pulse: pronounced with long vowel sounds and a retroflex ‘d’) is a term for the channels through which, in traditional Indian medicine and spiritual science, the energies of the physical body, the subtle body and the causal body are said to flow. Within this philosophical framework, the nadis are said to connect at special points of intensity called nadichakras. Nadi is an important concept in Hindu philosophy, mentioned and described in the sources some of which have about 3,000 years of history. The amount of nadis of the human body are claimed to be up to hundred-of-thousands and even millions. In regard to Kundalini yoga, there are three important nadis: ida, pingala, and sushumna (for the alternate names, see the section below). Ida (इडा, iḍā “comfort”) lies to the left of the spine, whereas pingala (पिङ्गल, piṅgala “tawny (brown)”, “golden”, “solar”) is to the right side of the spine, mirroring the ida. Sushumna (सुषुम्णा, suṣumṇā “very gracious”, “kind”) runs along the spinal cord in the center, through the seven chakras. Under the correct conditions the energy of kundalini is said to uncoil and enter sushumna through the brahma dwara or gate of Brahma at the base of the spine.In normal biological reference, a nadi can be translated into “nerve” in English. However, in yogic, and specifically in Kundalini yoga reference, a nadi can be thought of as a channel (not an anatomical structure). In regard to Kundalini yoga, there are three of these nadis: ida, pingala, and sushumna. Ida (इडा, iḍā, spoken “iRda”) lies to the left of the spine, whereas pingala (पिङ्गल, piṅgala) is to the right side of the spine, mirroring the ida. Sushumna (सुषुम्ना, suṣumnā) runs along the spinal cord in the center, through the seven chakras
In particular prana (active) is supposed to circulate inside Pingala, while apana (passive) is supposed to circulate inside Ida. Inside Sushumna is supposed to circulate kundalini when awakened. The Ida and Pingala nadis are often seen as referring to the two hemispheres of the brain.
Pingala is the extroverted (Active), solar nadi, and corresponds to the right hand side of the body and the left hand side of the brain. Ida is the introverted, lunar nadi, and corresponds to the left hand side of the body and the right hand side of the brain (there is a contra lateralization). These nadis are also said to have an extrasensory function, playing a part in empathic and instinctive responses.
The two nadis are believed to be stimulated through different Pranayama practices, including nadi shodhana, which involves alternate breathing through left and right nostrils, which would alternately stimulate respectively the left and right sides of the brain.
In Chinese Prana is called “chi,” while in Japanese it is known as “ki.” In Greek Prana is equivalent to “Pneuma” and in Polynesian it is “mana;” all referring to the same concept. It can be best described as “Vitality,” “as the integrating energy that co-ordinates the physical molecules, cells, etc and holds them together as a definite organism.” (Powell, 1882, p. 10)
It means that without Prana, translated as life, there would be no physical body as an integrated entity. Physical body without Prana is basically a collection of cells independent from one another; Prana is the substance that links these independent cells together creating one whole living complex.
Prana is not merely a philosophical concept; it is in every
sense a physical substance. Just as radioactive or electromagnetic waves exist even though we can’t see them, in the same way, in this physical body, there are pranic waves and a pranic field. Now, each of us has a certain quantity of prana in our physical body and we utilize this in the course of our day to day activities throughout life. When our prana diminishes, sickness sets in, and when we have plenty of prana, every part of the body is in perfect health. If we have an excess of prana, it can be transmitted to others for healing or magnetism.
The inner prana can be stimulated by the practice of pranayama and thereby increased to a greater quantum. The brain requires maximum prana, and for the practice of meditation, it needs an increased supply.
It is for this reason that we practise pranayama before commencing our meditation practice. If we are not able to supply plenty of pranic fuel to the brain, the mind becomes very restless and disturbed.
When the brain is receiving a deficient supply of prana, you suffer from nervous depression or nervous breakdown. Then the whole body perspires, there is trembling in every organ, you can’t stand, your mind is unsteady and you are constantly thinking negative thoughts. You can’t even sleep and you don’t want to talk or think. This state indicates that the brain is only receiving a very small quantity of prana.
Prana is energy, vitality, power. Prana is the foundation and essence of all life; the energy and vitality that permeates the entire Universe. Prana flows in everything that exists. Furthermore, Prana is the connecting link between the material world, consciousness and mind. It is what makes life on the material level possible.Prana is a common term being widely used in alternative medicine and yoga system. It is originally derived from the Sanskrit language meaning “life energy” (Prā means forth, while an means to breathe, move or live); therefore the nearest English equivalent of this Sanskrit term is “the breath of life.”According to ancient Indian literature, there is only one Life, one Consciousness; and Prana is the energy of the One, from which life begins. Therefore Prana is being used to address the life-energy in every being. There is a conversation in Upanishads between Indra and Pratardana where Indra says: “I am Prana… Meditate on me as life, as immortality. Prana is Life. Life is Prana. Immortality is Prana, Prana is Immortality. As long as Prana dwells in this body, so long surely there is life.There is another verse which refers to Atma or the Soul from which Prana is born. Indra teaches Visvamitra, a famous Rig Vedic Seer about Prana, in Aitareya Aranyaka II.2.3 saying: “I am Prana… all creatures are Pranas, he that shines is Prana. In this form I pervade all the quarters. This, my food is my friend, my support. This is the food of Visvamitra. I am he that shines.Therefore Prana can be understood as the life energy which gives life to the body and keeps it healthy and alive. The equivalent of Prana in Hebrew language is ruah, referring to the “breath of life” being called as Nephesch; which was breathed into the nostrils of Adam in the beginning of creation. The same concept exists in Persian philosophy when God breathed into the nostrils of Man the Breath of Life.
“Prana is that life energy which nourishes the whole body so that it could, together with its different organs, function properly and normally. Without energy the body would die.”
There are basically three major sources of Prana: the Sun, the Air and the Ground.
The Sun Prana is the Prana being absorbed from the sunlight by being exposed to it. As no Sun Prana is harmful to health, too much Sun Prana can also damage the body, in some cases leading to skin cancer.
Air Prana is absorbed by the energy centers or chakras of the energy body such as the Spleen chakra. The Ground Prana is unconsciously and automatically being absorbed by the soles of the feet; thus walking bare foot increases the amount of Ground Prana absorbed by the body.
There are also many other secondary sources of Prana, like water, trees such as pine tree and food, especially fresh food. Further to automatic absorption of Prana by the body, one can learn to consciously draw in Prana from the Air, Ground or Sun to increase the life energy in the body. However, just as too little Prana will lead to exhaustion, depletion and ultimately death, too much Prana will also creates congestion, manifesting as disease; this mainly happens if too much energy combines with diseased or dirty energy.
Prana can even be transferred from one person to another person; what is commonly known as the act of healing. In fact the rate of the healing of the body can be increased by increasing the life-energy on the affected part and on the entire body. Just as light can cause chemical reactions, which is used as a basis in photography, Prana increases the chemical reactions of the body, manifesting as healing. This principle is basically one of the main principles in alternative healing techniques such as Pranic Healing.
Prana regulates all physical functions for example, the breath, the supply of oxygen, digestion, elimination and much more. The function of the human body is much like a transformer, receiving energy from the Universal flow of Prana, distributing that energy, and then eliminating it. If a person or a room has a healthy, harmonious vibration, we say: “There is good Prana here”. Illness, on the other hand, disturbs or blocks the flow of Prana.As we develop the ability to control Prana, we gain harmony and health, of both body and mind. In addition to this, with long and consistent practice an expansion of consciousness is experienced.
Mooladhaar at the base, and Sahasrar at the top (or crown) of the head. It is at the base of this sushumna where the Kundalini lies coiled in three and a half coils, in a dormant or sleeping state.
Ida, Pingala and Sushumna
Within the spine, if you know its physical construction, you will know there are two holes on either side of the spine which are like conduit pipes for all the nerves to pass. This is the Ida and the Pingala, the left and the right channels. The Ida and Pingala represent the basic duality in the existence. It is this duality which we traditionally personify as Shiva and Shakti. Or you can simply call it masculine and feminine, or it can be the logical and the intuitive aspect of you. It is based on this that life is created. Without these two dualities, life wouldn’t exist as it does right now. In the beginning, everything is primordial, there is no duality. But once creation happens, there is duality. Bringing a balance between the Ida and Pingala will make you effective in the world, it will make you handle life aspects well. Most people live and die in Ida and Pingala; Sushumna, the central space, remains dormant. But Sushumna is the most significant aspect of human physiology. Only when energies enter into Sushumna, life really begins. Amongst these chanals or nadis, three are of the utmost importance: the Medullar Sushumna, which interpenetrates the cerebrospinal axis from the perineum to the juncture of the lamboid and sagittal suture of the cranium, and it is associated with both nostrils being open and free to the passage of air. The ‘lunar Serpentine Ida’ of the left side, of a pale color, negative polarity. It is associated with feminine attributes, the Yin element of Chinese philosophy, and an open left nostril; the solar Serpentine Pingala of the right side, red color, positive polarity. It is associated with masculine attributes, the Yang element of Chinese philosophy, and an open right nostril. Those are the main nadis and hey all start from the central channel of the chakras to the periphery, where they gradually become thinner.Fundamentally, Sushumna is attribute-less, it has no quality of its own. It is like empty space. If there is empty space, you can create anything you want. Once energies enter into Sushumna, we say you attain to Vairagya. “Raga,” means color. “Vairag,” means no color, you have become transparent. If you have become transparent, if what is behind you is red, you turn red too. If what is behind you is blue, you turn blue too. If what is behind you is yellow, you turn yellow too. You are unprejudiced. Wherever you are, you become a part of that, but nothing sticks to you. Only if you are like this, only if you are in a state of Vairag, then you will dare to explore all dimensions of life when you live here.
Prana is the infinite matter of which energy is born. Also interpreted as the vital, life-sustaining force of both the individual body and the universe. The word first arose in the Upanishads, where it is part of the worldly, physical realm, sustaining the body and is the mother of thought and thus also of the mind. Prana, as the fuel for all energy and motion, is said to be what distinguishes a living body from a dead one. In the Yogic tradition a period of increased Prana is known as Pranotthana, this is no doubt referring to a kundalini awakening.
Prana suffuses all living form but is not itself the Atma or individual soul. According to the Eastern worldview prana is understood to flow through a network of channels or meridians, so-called nadis. The three main channels are: the ida, the pingala, and the sushumna. The ida and pingala channels are said to correlate with left and right uninostril breathing. The control of Prana is achieved (initially) from the control of one’s breathing (Pranayama).Sushumna (alternatively known as Susumna) Nadi connects the base chakra to the crown chakra. It is very important in Yoga and Tantra in general. Alternative medicine also refers to Sushumna sometimes. In Raja Yoga or Yoga of Patanjali, when the mind is quietened through Yama, Niyama, Asana and Pranayama the important state of Pratyahara begins. A person entering this state never complains of Dispersion of Mind.According to the tantric treatise Shiva Samhita, there are fourteen principal nadis. Of these, Ida, Pingala and Sushumna are considered the most important.
Ida is the left channel. Ida is white, feminine, cold, represents the moon and is associated with the river Ganga (Ganges). Originating in Muladhara, Ida ends up in the left nostril.
Pingala is the right channel. Pingala is red, masculine, hot, represents the sun and is associated with the river Yamuna. Originating in Muladhara, Pingala ends up in the right nostril.
Sushumna is the central channel and is associated with the river Saraswati. Within the Sushumna nadi there are three more subtle channels: Vajra, Chitrini and Brahma nadi through which Kundalini moves upwards running up the body from just below Muladhara chakra to Sahasrara chakra at the crown of the head.
The kanda in Muladhara chakra is the meeting place of the three main nadis and is known as Yukta Triveni (Yukta: “combined”, tri: “three”, veni: “streams”). In Muladhara, Shakti, the static unmanifested Kundalini, is symbolized by a serpent coiled into three and a half circles around the central axis Svayambhu-linga at the base of the spine. The serpent lies blocking the entrance to Sushumna, the central channel with his mouth. Sushumna remains closed at its lower end as long as Kundalini is not awakened.The technique of Kundalini Yoga consists in using Prana (the vital air), guiding its circulatory movement through Ida and Pingala down to the base of the spine into the space where Kundalini lies coiled. The vital energies of the opposite forces circulating in Ida and Pingala will be unified and Shakti Kundalini will then awaken and rise up Sushumna, energizing the seven chakras.
From Muladhara chakra, Ida and Pingala alternate from the right to left sides at each chakra until they reach Ajna chakra where they meet again with Sushumna.
In Ajna chakra the meeting of the three main nadis is called Mukta Triveni (Mukta: “liberated”). Continuing beyond Ajna chakra, Ida and Pingala end in the left and right nostrils respectively.
Once the Kundalini Shakti has ascended through Sushumna to Sahasrara, the highest psychic center at the crown of the head, it is made to reverse its course and return to rest in the base center again.
This is characterised by observing the movements/jerks in Sushumna, the central canal in the subtle body. The movements indicate the flow of Prana through the central canal and in the process, the sushumna makes the way for the ascent of Kundalini.
Pingala is associated with solar energy. The word pingala means “tawny” in Sanskrit. Pingala has a sunlike nature and male energy. Its temperature is heating and courses from the right testicle to the right nostril. It corresponds to the river Yamuna.
Ida is associated with lunar energy. The word ida means “comfort” in Sanskrit. Idā has a moonlike nature and female energy with a cooling effect. It courses from the left testicle to the left nostril and corresponds to the Ganges river.
The Ida and Pingala nadis are often seen as referring to the two hemispheres of the brain. Pingala is the extroverted, solar nadi, and corresponds to left hemisphere . Ida is the introverted, lunar nadi, and refers to the right hemisphere of the brain. Ida nadi controls all the mental processes while Pingala nadi controls all the vital processes.This are two nerve-currents one on either side of the spinal column. The left one is called Ida and the right is known as Pingala. These are Nadis. Tentatively, some take these as the right and the left sympathetic cords, but they are subtle tubes that carry Prana. The Moon moves in the Ida and the Sun in the Pingala. Ida is cooling. Pingala is heating. Ida flows through the left nostril and the Pingala through the right nostril. The breath flows through the right nostril for one hour and then through the left nostril for one hour. Man is busily engaged in worldly activities, when the breath flows through Ida and Pingala. When Sushumna operates, he becomes dead to the world, and enters into Samadhi. A Yogi tries his level best to make the Prana run in the Sushumna Nadi, which is known as the central Brahman Nadi also. On the left of Sushumna is situated Ida and on the right is Pingala. The moon is of the nature of Tamas and the sun is that of Rajas. The poison share is of the sun and the nectar is of the moon. Ida and Pingala indicate time. Sushumna is the consumer of time.
In Western tradition, sometime the three main nadis (Ida, Pingala and Sushumna) are related to the Caduceus of Hermes: “the two snakes of which symbolize the kundalini or serpent-fire which is presently to be set in motion along those channels, while the wings typify the power of conscious flight through higher planes which the development of that fire confers”.In this framework of mystic western esotericism welded with yoga concepts, sometimes the three nadis are related and named as alchemical sulphur and alchemical mercury.
Perhaps Hermes was the precursor, as some myths say that Hermes delivered Asclepius, who after birth, became an apprentice in the art of medicine. Modern medical institutions have adopted both the staff of Hermes and the Rod of Asclepius for their logos, but there is a strong debate on the usage of former, for Hermes also carries the reputation of protecting gamblers and thieves.But we shouldn’t shy away from use of the caduceus. It’s symbolism is much to similar to other formulas. For instance, the two braided snakes resemble that of the double helical structure that makes up DNA. It also corresponds with the structural energies of Kundalini yoga. In Kundalini, there is a powerful Shakti force that lays dormant at the base of the spine, awaiting activation through awareness, practice and meditation.
This Kundalini force is depicted as a serpent, reposing in a coiled base three times around the spine. When activated, this force travels through three channels, or nadis; the sushumna, the ida, & the pingala. These nadis are identical to the parts of the caduceus. The sushumna, like the staff, is vertical and straight, traveling in parallel motion with the spine. The ida and pingala channels twist together like that of the two snakes, intersecting at a handful of point, or chakra centers.The sushumna is the stabilizing and grounding core, connecting the base with the crown. Each of the chakras are situated along the column of the sushumna. Kundalini moves upward through this pathway. The Ida and Pingala nadis work together in polarity and duality, just like Yin and Yang. Ida, the left channel, represents feminine and lunar energy as is connected to emotions. Pingala on the other hand is associated with masculine and solar energy as well as mental and physical endeavors. Kundalini energy has the potential to activate when both of these nadis are in balance with each other.
In the East, the symbol of the two serpents twisting on the rod corresponds to the two currents Pingala and Ida which coil around the Merudanda: the first is red, hot and dry, likened to the Sun and the Alchemic Sulphur; the second, Ida, is cold and wet, like the Alchemic Mercury and is correlated with the Moon for its silver pallor.According to yoga, tantra and the science of kundalini, prana is supposed to originate in pingala nadi.
Within the framework of the spinal cord, there are three channels known as nadis in yoga.One is called ida, another is pingala and the third is sushumna. Ida nadi represents the mental energy, pingala represents prana or pranic energy and sushumna represents spirit or spiritual awareness.The human energy system is composed of five groups of organs that function synergistically and the communities of energy bodies in the higher and lower mind. The five groups are the chakras, aura, nadis, minor energy centres in the hands and feet and the kandas. The energy system, as a structural and functional unit, can be seen as a power plant and grid of substations and power lines that transmute the consciousness of the Self (Atman) into unqualified energy (prana), unqualified energy from one frequency into another, and unqualified energy into subtle matter.The human energy system is composed of five groups of organs that function synergistically and the communities of energy bodies in the higher and lower mind. The five groups are the chakras, aura, nadis, minor energy centers in the hands and feet and the kandas. The energy system, as a structural and functional unit, can be seen as a power plant and grid of substations and power lines that transmute the consciousness of the Self (Atman) into unqualified energy (prana), unqualified energy from one frequency into another, and unqualified energy into subtle matter.The yogic concept of Nadis as a system of energy channels is similar to the Chinese system of Meridians which is the basis of Chinese medicine. In Yogic system, the sushumna runs through the centre of the spine, beginning at the coccyx and ending at the crown of the head, this corresponds with the Governing Vessel and the Conceptual Vessel in Chinese medicine. Sushumna is the path of Kundalini (the coiled serpent energy located at the base of the spine) which is considered the most powerful source of energy found in a human being.Ancient yogic texts advise that the ida and pingala together with the sushumna are the ruling nadis and begin at either side of the first chakra. The ida is channelled via the left nostril while the pingala through the right. The nadis two main functions is the ability to absorb Prana directly from the air on inhalation and their ability to throw off toxins on exhalation. The second function is activating the serpent energy called Kundalini. Kundalini is a Sanskrit word which means ring or coil; it is symbolized by a sleeping serpent which faces downward at the base of the sushumna.In ancient Yogic tradition, we are told that through discipline and exercise a student activated the Kundalini first by having it rise through the sushumna until it reaches the crown chakra. When this is accomplished and Kundalini is fully awakened, the ida and pingala merge with the sushumna forming one channel through which this vital force can travel through the nadir and the student then achieves enlightenment.
These three nadis originate in mooladhara chakra, which is situated at the perineum or cervix. Pingala nadi flows to the right from mooladhara and continues to cross ida at each chakra all the way up to ajna.
Pingala nadi is the distributing channel for prana in the body, and from each chakra the pranas are disseminated to every organ of the body.
From swadhisthana the pranic energy is distributed to the genito-urinary system. Manipura chakra supplies prana to the digestive system and anahata supplies the respiratory and cardiovascular systems.
From vishuddhi, distribution takes place to the ears, eyes, nose and throat, and ajna chakra is the distributor of energy through which man’s brain is fed.Prana is conscious energy, which means that the Nādīs also transmit consciousness. By means of the Nādīs one can see and hear things at a great distance and move in other levels of consciousness. There are numerous reports from people who were clinically dead and then came back to life again. They nearly all described how they traveled along a tunnel with light radiating at the end. This tunnel is the Nādī through which life escapes from the body.
We can also have such “tunnel experiences” in dreams and on astral journeys. With these we are not really outside the body but in an altered state of consciousness. The Nādīs make it possible for us to take mental journeys of discovery throughout the entire Universe. With their help our consciousness is able to go to any place we would like without the body having to move at all.
Three Nādīs are of special importance – IDĀ, PINGALĀ and SUSHUMNĀ.
IDĀ arises in the left side of the body and represents the moon principle
PINGALĀ begins on the right side of the body and symbolises the sun principle.
SUSHUMNĀ runs through the central channel of the spinal cord and represents the consciousness.
On the physical level PINGALĀ has its counterpart in the Parasympathetic Nervous System, IDĀ in the Sympathetic Nervous System, and SUSHUMNĀ in the Central Nervous System.
The moon symbolises the mind with its changeable feelings, whereas the sun represents the intellect. Just as our emotions and thoughts change constantly, the moon is also constantly changing its form. The intellect, however, is a stable and constant principle like the sun. Only when harmony and balance prevail between the moon system and sun system are we healthy and capable of developing further mentally and spiritually.We are able to activate and harmonise the Nādīs through the breath. When we breathe through the left nostril in Prānāyāma we activate the Idā Nādī. The Idā Nādī cools, quietens and refreshes body and mind like the silvery light of the moon. Pingalā Nādī, however, which is influenced by breathing through the right nostril has a warming and activating influence, in the same way as sunshine warms the earth and stimulates the growth of vegetation.Idā and Pingalā begin in the brain at approximately the level of the Pituitary Gland. Idā has an effect on the right side of the brain whilst Pingalā influences the left hemisphere. To maintain balance both Nādīs run in a snake-like course from one side of the body to the other. At the points where they cross they also meet with the central Nādī, Sushumnā. At those places where the power and radiance of the sun and moon meet, together with the strengthening effect of the Sushumnā, very powerful energy centres called CHAKRAS form.
The first crossing of the Nādīs at the top of the spinal column forms the Throat Chakra (Vishuddhi Chakra) and the last crossing at the base of the spinal column forms the Root Centre (Mūlādhāra Chakra). Here the Idā Nādī flows on the left side of the body and the Pingalā Nādī on the right side, and it is precisely here that our dormant consciousness lies hidden.
To understand the phenomenon of energy and healing it would be essential to understand about chakraas. Chakra is a Sanskrit word meaning wheel. At certain spots in human body energy moves in a particular direction and forms shapes that resemble certain shapes in the physical world. It will be pertinent to say that these are imaginary shapes meaning if our body is surgically opened, no such chakraas would be physically found.
One may wonder as to how these chakraas were discovered if they did not exist physically. Under deep meditation when one achieves a no thought state of mind, chakraas become clearly visible in our subtle or energy body. There are seven such chakraas in our subtle body.
There are six chakras through which pingala nadi passes. The first one is mooladhara chakra from which it originates. The second is swadhisthana where the nadi crosses to the left. The third is manipura chakra where the nadi crosses to the right. And the fourth is anahata where the nadi crosses to the left. The fifth is vishuddhi where the nadi crosses to the right and the sixth is ajna where the nadi terminates from the right. Similarly, ida nadi also crosses at each chakra but in the reverse order. Every sincere yoga aspirant should have a clear understanding of the pathway of these three major nadis.
In yoga, pranayama techniques are used to control the movement of these vital energies within the body, which is said to lead to the increased vitality of the practitioner.
Prana constitutes the second sheath (kosa) of a human being (the Atman or the Self). Kundalini is energy but it has an impact on and is generated by (cause and effect of) all the koshas:
Annamaya Kosa (Gross Body)
Pranamaya Kosa (Vital Air Sheath)
Manomaya Kosa (Mental Sheath)
Vigyanamaya Kosa (Intellectual Sheath)
Karanamaya Kosa or Anandmaya Kosa (Causal Sheath)