Energetic Channels of The Nadis Photo: @yogabydiksha | Instagram

The Nadis and Energetic Channels

Beneath the surface of physical postures, yoga is a practice of moving energy. In yogic philosophy, energy moves through various channels called nadis. This article will explain the main nadis and offer practices to familiarize yourself with your energetic patterns.

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What are Nadis?

Nadis exist in the energetic body, or “subtle body,” as channels or tubes where prana (life force energy) can flow. These channels are comparable to meridians in Chinese medicine. However, according to the yogic system, there are 72,000 nadis!

When nadis are clear or “pure,” prana flows freely throughout the body. Thus, different aspects of yoga (such as asana, pranayama, mudras, bandhas, and cleansing rituals) aim to remove blockages from the nadis, optimizing health and vitality.

The Three Main Nadis

Of the thousands of nadis, three of them are the most relevant: Sushumna, Ida, and Pingala. Understanding the role of these nadis offers a broader perspective of yoga and will allow you to deepen your practice.


Sushumna Nadi is your main energetic pathway. In the physical body, it corresponds to the spinal column. The role of Sushumna is to provide a passage for energy to rise from the base of the spine to the crown of the head.

Sushumna Nadi is associated with balance, pure awareness, and spiritual awakening. The major energetic centers (chakras) are located along Sushumna Nadi at the places where Ida and Pingala intersect.


Ida Nadi is your feminine energetic channel. It begins at the base of the spine and weaves throughout the body, from left to right. It crosses Sushumna at each of the major chakras and meets Pingala at the third eye (ajna chakra) before ending at the left nostril.

Ida relates to the attributes of life that yogic philosophy considers feminine: the left side of the body, the right brain (which dictates creative flow), and the energy of the moon. It also corresponds to the parasympathetic nervous system and states of relaxation or passivity.


Pingala Nadi, your masculine energetic channel, mirrors Ida. It begins at the base of the spine, starting its journey to the right. Pingala weaves from right to left, crossing the spine at each of the major chakras, and meets Ida at the third eye before ending at the right nostril.

Pingala Nadi relates to the right side of the body, the left brain (which dictates logic and reason), and solar energy. It corresponds to the sympathetic nervous system and active states.

Finding Balance

Throughout the day, your breathing alternates between left (Ida) and right (Pingala) nostril dominance. When prana is in Sushumna nadi, the breath flows out of both nostrils simultaneously. However, this is very rarely the case!

The following yoga exercises help compensate for imbalances between the nadis and their corresponding attributes.

Nadi Shodhana

Nadi Shodhana, or Alternate Nostril Breath, is a well-known pranayama practice that translates into English as “nadi purification.” Nadi Shodhana facilitates this by balancing Ida and Pingala as the breath passes in and out of each nostril.

To practice:

  • Use your right thumb to block your right nostril and inhale through your left nostril.
  • Block your right nostril with your right ring finger and exhale through your right nostril.
  • On your next breath, complete a “full round” by inhaling right and exhaling left.
  • Repeat for several rounds, building up to several minutes.

Surya and Chandra Bhedana

Surya Bhedana and Chandra Bhedana are simple pranayama practices that stimulate Pingala and Ida. In Sanskrit, surya means sun, chandra means moon, and bhedan means piercing. Accordingly, you can practice Surya Bhedana to stimulate solar energy.

  • Inhaling through the right (solar) nostril and exhaling through the left (lunar).

Chandra Bhedana works with lunar energy when you inhale through the left nostril and exhale through the right.

Swara Yoga

Swara Yoga is a science that involves noticing when your breath is in the right nostril vs. the left and adjusting your lifestyle accordingly.

Knowing which nostril is dominant at any given time can enable you to work more harmoniously in daily activities and align yourself with cosmic order. Noticing and, at times, manipulating your dominant nostril can also help heal physical and mental ailments.

Awakening Latent Energy

For prana to flow through Sushumna Nadi, we must purify and balance Ida and Pingala. The specific manifestation of prana rising in Sushumna is known as kundalini energy. For most people, kundalini is a dormant energy that rests at the root chakra at the base of the spine. When Sushumna is unblocked, kundalini can pass through each chakra, eventually piercing the crown chakra—your gateway to cosmic consciousness. This surge in energy can awaken us to true nature.

By observing and manipulating how prana flows throughout the nadis, we can work towards purifying the body, mind, and heart. This brings joy to life and guides us towards this ultimate state.