What Are The Nadis?

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Nadis (river/ channel/ flow)

The Nadis – Definition

The nadis are intricate energy pathways that carry prana (vital life force) throughout the body.

Derived from the Sanskrit word “nāḍī,” meaning “flow,” nadis are considered to be conduits that facilitate the flow of energy and consciousness.

It is believed there are thousands of nadis which make up the subtle body, but the primary ones mentioned in yogic texts are the three most significant nadis: the Ida, Pingala, and Sushumna.

a bright energy coil

The Nadis – A Deep Dive

The three primary nadis, namely the Ida on the left, the Sushumna in the center, and the Pingala on the right, traverse from the base of the spine to the crown of the head. The ultimate objective is to remove obstructions within these nadis in order to attain liberation.

Ida Nadi

The Ida nadi is associated with the moon, representing feminine and cooling energy. It flows through the left side of the body, beginning at the base of the spine and winding its way upwards, like a snake uncoiling itself.

Pingala Nadi

The Pingala nadi is associated with the sun and represents the masculine and heating energy. It flows through the right side of the body, mirroring the Ida nadi’s path.

Sushumna Nadi

The Sushumna nadi is the central channel that runs parallel to the spine, connecting the base of the spine to the crown of the head.

a woman's back with her hands in prayer behind her back and an illustration of her spine

The Role Of The Nadis

In the practice of yoga, the nadis play a crucial role in harmonizing and balancing the body and mind. The nadis serve as the channels through which prana, the life force, flows.

The Ida and Pingala nadis, which represent opposing energies, symbolize the dualistic nature of existence. Their harmonization and balance are essential for achieving a state of equilibrium.

One of the primary goals of yoga is to awaken and purify the Sushumna nadi. It is through this central channel that the Kundalini energy, represented as a dormant serpent coiled at the base of the spine, can be awakened and rise upwards.

As the Kundalini energy ascends through the Sushumna, it cleanses and energizes the various chakras, or energy centers, along its path. This process leads to the awakening of higher states of consciousness and spiritual realization.

an illustration of someone meditating with the chakras on them

The Nadis In Your Life

Yoga offers various techniques to balance and purify the nadis, promoting the free flow of prana throughout the body, such as yoga asana, pranayama, meditation, mantra and visualization.


Asanas, or physical postures, help to align the body and stimulate the nadis. Certain yoga asanas, such as twists and forward bends, can activate and balance the Ida and Pingala nadis.


Pranayama, the yogic practice of controlling the breath, is another effective way to cleanse and harmonize the nadis. Techniques like alternate nostril breathing, or Nadi Shodhana, are specifically designed to balance the Ida and Pingala nadis, creating a state of equilibrium.

Meditation, Mantra and Visualization

In addition to asanas and pranayama, meditation, mantra and visualization techniques can be used to awaken and purify the Sushumna nadi.

Focused awareness on the subtle energy centers or chakras along the Sushumna path helps to remove blockages and allow the Kundalini energy to flow freely. The practices of Kundalini yoga and Kriya yoga specifically focus on awakening dormant energy.

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To go deep and expand your yogic knowledge, access our free Yoga Terms Encyclopedia, where we host a profound wealth of ancient and timeless yogic wisdom in an accessible modern format.

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Amy is a yoga teacher and practitioner based in Brighton.

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