Lesson 1, Topic 1
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Week 3. Chakras: What are the Nadis?

Nadis (lit. ‘tube, pipe, nerve, blood vessel, pulse’) are channels through which the energy, prana, flows. Nadis connect special points of intensity, the chakras. The three principal nadis run from the base of the spine to the head, and are the ida on the left, the sushumna in the centre, and the pingala on the right.

The word nadi literally translates to “flowing water” or “river.” And these powerful “rivers” are believed to flow through our bodies in astronomical proportions. Ancient yogic texts disagree on the actual number of nadis in the human body, but many texts say that there are upwards of 72,000 that flow through the body! In essence, this number is likely not meant to be taken literally, but – instead – is meant to signify a number that is beyond counting. One could argue that there are an infinite number of nadis within the human body.

The nadis play an important role in yoga. Many yogic practices, including shatkarmas, mudras and pranayama, are intended to open and unblock the nadis. The ultimate aim of some yogic practises are to direct prana into the sushumna nadi specifically, enabling kundalini to rise, and thus bring about moksha, or liberation.

The three main nadis are:

  1. Ida nadi – Called the left channel, ida nadi starts in the muladhara (root) chakra, flowing to the left and weaving in and out of the chakras before ending in the left nostril. This nadi represents mental energy.
  2. Pingala nadi – Referred to as the right channel, pingala nadi also starts in the root chakra, but flows to the right, weaving in and out of the chakras in a mirror image of ida nadi and ending in the right nostril. Pingala nadi is the origin of prana.
  3. Sushumna nadi – The central channel, sushumna nadi runs straight up the spine and through the chakras from just below the root chakra to the sahasrara (crown) chakra. This is the nadi of spiritual awareness.

A major focus of Hatha yoga is balancing the nadis, and one of the most effective methods of doing so is a form of pranayama called nadi shodhana, or alternate nostril breathing. It is often included at the end of an asana practice. The nadis can be compared to the meridians of Chinese acupuncture.

The Nadis, both the main and the capillaries, open and expand thanks to the spiritual practice, high-vibration food consumption and healthy emotional and mental communication with your own being and environment (healthy thoughts and emotions).

The Nadis might get blocked and contaminated due to the absence of spiritual practice, inappropriate feeding, whether it is physical intake, emotions or toxic thoughts.

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