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Understanding Nadis

Energy Pathways in Yogic Philosophy - By Selvaraj Giridharan

Reading time: 5 minutes

In Yogic Science, understanding the concept of Nadis is fundamental to comprehending the flow of life force or vital energy, known as prana, within the human body. Nadis are subtle energy pathways that permeate the entire body and carry this life force. Traditional yogic texts mention an intricate network of thousands of Nadis, with some references suggesting approximately 72,000 in the Siva Samhita, while others speak of as many as 350,000. Fourteen hold significant importance, with three - Ida, Pingala, and Sushumna - of utmost relevance.

Ida, Pingala, and Sushumna: The Three Primary Nadis

Ida Nadi: This energy channel corresponds with the moon, the left side of the body, and embodies feminine qualities. It exudes a cool, nurturing energy and represents the parasympathetic nervous system's functionality.

Pingala Nadi: Pingala aligns with the sun, the right side of the body, and symbolizes masculine attributes. It radiates warmth and vigour and signifies the sympathetic nervous system's energy.

Sushumna Nadi: Considered the most crucial Nadi, Sushumna forms the central channel running along the spine. It is associated with spiritual awakening and enlightenment, serving as the conduit for the ascension of Kundalini energy.

Energy Centres in the Human Body: Chakras

The human body is believed to comprise various energy hubs known as Chakras. These Chakras, akin to spinning vortexes, connect to different organs, glands, and nerve clusters. The energy coursing through the Nadis nourishes and activates these Chakras, fostering physical, emotional, and spiritual health. The chakra system is a fundamental concept in yogic philosophy, representing the seven energy centres in the human body. Each chakra corresponds to a specific physical, emotional, and spiritual aspect of our being and is associated with a particular Nadi or energy channel.

Root Chakra (Muladhara): Situated at the base of the spine, this chakra connects to the coccygeal plexus and the pelvic region. The energy from the Muladhara chakra circulates through the central Sushumna Nadi.

Sacral Chakra (Swadhisthana): Associated with the sacral plexus, it influences the reproductive organs and lower abdomen. The energy in this chakra flows through the Pingala Nadi, symbolizing the sun's energy.

Solar Plexus Chakra (Manipura): This chakra, linked to the solar plexus, impacts the digestive system and metabolic processes. The energy here also courses through the Sushumna Nadi.

Heart Chakra (Anahata): Positioned at the heart center, the Anahata chakra governs the cardiovascular and respiratory systems. It channels its energy through the lunar Ida Nadi.

Throat Chakra (Vishuddha): Located at the throat, it influences the throat, neck, and thyroid gland. The energy from the Vishuddha chakra flows through the Sushumna Nadi.

Third Eye Chakra (Ajna): Situated between the eyebrows, it connects to the pituitary gland, influencing the endocrine system. The energy here also travels through the Sushumna Nadi.

Crown Chakra (Sahasrara): Positioned at the crown of the head, it links to the pineal gland and influences higher states of consciousness. Like other upper chakras, its energy flows through the Sushumna Nadi.

A blockage in any of these chakras could disrupt the smooth flow of Prana, the vital life force.

In addition to chakra blockages, there exist certain Granthis or Knots that can obstruct the energy flow through the Nadi channels. These psychic knots are:

Brahma Granthi: The first knot, located at the base of the spine in the Muladhara chakra, represents our sense of identity and security. A blockage here may result in feelings of insecurity, restlessness, and fear.

Vishnu Granthi: Positioned in the Anahata chakra, the heart centre, this knot is tied to our capacity for love, compassion, and forgiveness. If blocked, it might lead to emotional pain, relationship issues, and a lack of self-love.

Rudra Granthi: This final knot, situated in the Ajna chakra or brow centre, relates to our intuition and connection to the divine. A blockage here can cause feelings of disorientation, confusion, and disconnection from our higher purpose.


When these energy systems are clear and free from blockages, prana flows unhindered, allowing the Chakras to function at their optimal capacity. However, any obstructions or imbalances can lead to physical ailments, emotional instability, and spiritual disconnect.

Balancing the Nadis for Holistic Well-being:

A harmonious balance in the Nadis is critical for overall health, vitality, and spiritual growth. Here's how balanced Nadis influence different aspects of well-being:

Physical Health: A smooth energy flow through the Nadis aids in maintaining the proper functioning of organs, nerves, and bodily systems. It strengthens the immune response, improves digestion, enhances circulation, and boosts flexibility.

Emotional Well-being: Balanced Nadis contribute to emotional stability and effective stress management. They aid in mitigating anxiety, depression, and mood swings, fostering a sense of tranquillity and satisfaction.

Spiritual Growth: The Sushumna Nadi, being the primary conduit for spiritual energy, allows practitioners to experience higher states of consciousness, spiritual insights, and inner awakening.


Interplay of Nadis and Chakras:

Each Chakra aligns with specific Nadis, and these energy channels intersect at the Chakras, forming a complex network. Ensuring a proper energy flow through the Nadis guarantees that the Chakras are balanced and aligned, supporting various physical and psychological functions.

The practice of yoga, coupled with pranayama (breathing exercises), effectively balances and harmonises the Nadis and Chakras. Here are some techniques that can help:

Yoga Poses (Asanas): Practicing specific yoga poses stimulates particular Chakras and the associated Nadis. For instance, forward bends activate the Ida Nadi, while back bends stimulate the Pingala Nadi. Regular practice of varied yoga poses helps maintain the overall energy flow through all Nadis.

Pranayama Techniques: Different pranayama practices influence the flow of prana through the Nadis. Alternate Nostril Breathing (Nadi Shodhana) helps balance Ida and Pingala, while Kapalabhati and Bhastrika increase energy flow through the Sushumna Nadi.

Indeed, the practice of all three Bandhas and certain Kriyas are instrumental in unblocking the Chakras and untying the Knots, paving the way for smoother energy flow. However, it must be noted that these are advanced Yoga practices and require a solid foundation in Hatha Yoga.

The Impact of Balanced Nadis:

When the Nadis are in harmony, and energy circulates freely through the Chakras, an array of benefits can be reaped:

Stress Alleviation: Equilibrium in Nadis fosters relaxation, mitigating stress and anxiety and enhancing mental well-being.

Energized Living: Unimpeded energy flow amplifies vitality, endurance, and overall energy levels.

Emotional Equilibrium: Harmonized Nadis contribute to emotional balance, allowing for improved emotional expression and regulation.

Spiritual Evolution: Clear Nadis and Chakras accelerate spiritual growth, providing opportunities for self-discovery and higher states of consciousness.

Physical Wellness: Appropriate energy circulation through Nadis supports organ function and bodily systems, promoting physical health.

Cognitive Clarity: Balanced Nadis assist in boosting mental clarity, focus, and concentration.

Grasping the concept of Nadis and their importance in yogic philosophy offers a captivating glimpse into the complexities of the human energy system. The practice of yoga, supplemented with pranayama techniques, provides a potent tool to harmonize these subtle energy channels, fostering physical health, emotional well-being, and spiritual growth. By maintaining balanced Nadis and Chakras, individuals can experience diminished stress, augmented energy levels, and an overall improved quality of life.


Selvaraj Giridharan

practicing oncologist, mentor, educator, yogi, traveler, and an artist. I aim to share my insights on cancer, spirituality and yoga