The main Nadis: Sushumna, Ida and Pingala

Nadis are special subtle channels of prana in the human body. It is difficult to name the exact number of Nadis. Different sources and teachings provide different numbers – from 72 000 to 840 000.

Nadi – What is it?

Like we already mentioned, Nadis are energy channels within the human body. These are the pathways of life force prana – through them it flows to every cell of the body. Yoga tradition describes five functions or energetic components of life force (they are also known as vayu): prana, udana, apana, samana, vyana. When all of them interact harmoniously, a person is healthy, happy, cheerful and in a good mood. His life is easy, productive and favorable.

The principal prana channels are Sushumna, Ida, Pingala

The spinal column is surrounded on both sides by two energy channels. They entwine Sushumna and they are intersecting at the level of chakras. Ida and Pingala come from the root chakra – Muladhara, which is located in the pelvic area. Pingala comes from Muladhara from the right side of the spine, Ida – from the left. They intersect four times – in Swadhisthana, Manipura, Anahata, and Vishuddha. Reaching Adjna chakra, they merge and flow upwards.


The central channel, Sushumna, passes along the spinal column. It is entwined with Ida and Pingala. The images usually show how it begins in Muladhara chakra and moves upward, intersecting with the main Nadis in the chakra zones. Its journey ends in the Sahasrara with the achievement of absolute unity. The Kundalini energy, which is responsible for the spiritual growth of a person, moves along the central channel.

Energy channels in the body

On the physical level, the energy channels act as follows: the air flows through the left nostril which is connected to Ida Nadi, and through the right nostril, connected to Pingala Nadi. These air flows affect the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. And they, in turn, are responsible for the regulation and harmonious state of the body internal systems.

In case of predominance of one of the systems, the other subordinates to it. With the help of one system, the body tries to save energy, and uses the other system to burn it. One system is trying to prepare the body for external factors, the other directs energy to achieve inner comfort. The body uses the sympathetic system to accelerate any process of life (heartbeat, respiratory cycle, temperature). Parasympathetic system is needed to slow down processes and save the energy. The systems keep functioning even at night. They monitor pressure, the work of various organs and heart rate. Almost all of these functions work automatically. That is why a person practically does not feel or realize them. 

Breathing through the left nostril activates the internal organs related to the parasympathetic system. And breathing through the right nostril affects the organs associated with the sympathetic system. The energy channels complement and harmonize each other’s work. They contribute to emotional stability, the development of mental activity and spiritual growth. Pingala and Ida are part of a large system. When a person achieves the balance of all energies, it improves and simplifies meditation practices. To achieve this state, it is necessary to individually select a complex of asanas, pranayamas and other techniques. Only those who practice regularly will be able to achieve the harmony of body and soul.