The Spinal Ascent
Lunar Feminine the Yin (left) Ida – Shushumna – Pingala (right) the Yang Masculine Solar
Vajra Chitra (astral spine)
Brahmanadi (spine of the causal body)
Nadis are thought to carry a life force energy known as prana in Sanskrit, or chi in Chinese-based systems. In particular prana (active) is supposed to circulate inside Pingala, while apana (passive) is supposed to circulate inside Ida. Inside Sushumna is supposed to circulate kundalini when awakened. The Ida and Pingala nadis are often seen as referring to the two hemispheres of the brain. Pingala is the extroverted (Active), solar nadi, and corresponds to the right hand side of the body and the left hand side of the brain. Ida is the introverted, lunar nadi, and corresponds to the left hand side of the body and the right hand side of the brain. These nadis are also said to have an extrasensory function, playing a part in empathic and instinctive responses. The two nadis are believed to be stimulated through different Pranayama practices, including nadi shodhana, which involves alternate breathing through left and right nostrils, which would alternately stimulate respectively the left and right sides of the brain. The word nadi comes from the Sanskrit root nad meaning “channel”, “stream”, or “flow”. The rhythmical breathing and special breathing techniques are supposed to influence the flow of these nadis or energetic currents. According to this kind of interpretation (which is the Yoga interpretation) the breathing techniques will purify and develop these two energetic currents and will lead to breathing special exercises whose goal is to awake kundalini among seven Nadi Chakras in our body. Of the seven, four are in the trunk of the body, two in the head- and there is one in the neck. Chakra is the power center associated with the subtle body of man.
Ida, Pingala and Sushumna
Amongst these ducts or nadis, three are of the utmost importance: the Medullar Sushumna, which interpenetrates the cerebrospinal axis from the perineum to the cranium, and it is associated with both nostrils being open and free to the passage of air. The ‘lunar Serpentine Ida’ of the left side, of a pale color, negative polarity. It is associated with feminine attributes, the Yin element of Chinese philosophy, and an open left nostril; the solar Serpentine Pingala of the right side, red color, positive polarity. It is associated with masculine attributes, the Yang element of Chinese philosophy, and an open right nostril. Those are the main nadis, but in some tantric texts more than 72,000 nadis are cited. They all start from the central channel of the chakras to the periphery, where they gradually become thinner. The Nadi Sushumna, whose substance is the threefold Gunas, is in the middle. She is the form of Moon, Sun, and Fire even water also; Her body, a string of blooming Dhatura flowers, extends from the middle of the Kanda to the Head, and the Vajra inside Her extends, shining, from the Medhra to the Head.
Sushumna (alternatively known as Susumna) Nadi connects the base chakra to the crown chakra. It is very important in Yoga and Tantra in general. Alternative medicine also refers to Sushumna sometimes. In Raja Yoga or Yoga Asana and Pranayama the important state of Pratyahara begins. A person entering this state never complains of Dispersion of Mind. This is characterised by observing the movements/jerks in Sushumna, the central canal in the subtle body. The movements indicate the flow of Prana through the central canal and in the process, the sushumna makes the way for the ascent of Kundalini.
Pingala is associated with solar energy. The word pingala means “tawny” in Sanskrit. Pingala has a sunlike nature and male energy. Its temperature is heating and courses from the left testicle to the right nostril. It corresponds to the river Yamuna. The Ida and Pingala nadis are often seen as referring to the two hemispheres of the brain. Pingala is the extroverted, solar nadi, and corresponds to the left hand side of the brain. Ida is the introverted, lunar nadi, and refers to the right hand side of the brain.
Ida is associated with lunar energy sometime it is based on solar energy. The word ida means “comfort” in Sanskrit. Idā has a moonlike nature and female energy with a cooling effect. It courses from the right testicle to the left nostril and corresponds to the Ganges river. Ida nadi controls all the mental processes while Pingala nadi controls all the vital processes.
This is the astral spine, the spine of the energy-body called Pranamaya kosha. It is a hollow tube running from Mooladhara chakra to Sahasrara chakra. Inside the physical spinal cord a hollow canal runs all along the length called canalis centralis. Sushumna nadi is situated inside this hollow canal. It originates at the mooladhara moves inside the spinal cord. The anterior branch goes to the Agnya chakra the eye-brow center and from there to the top of the head (hollow spot). The posterior branch passes from behind the head and also joins the top of the head (hollow spot). This hollow spot is Brahmas Cave from where the prana should leave the body at death for liberation.
A yogi aspirant generally has to work with the posterior branch of the Sushumna. The Sushumna nadi encloses within itself another nadi called Vajra nadi. Within this Vajra nadi is Chitra nadi. Vajra Nadi and Chitra nadi correspond to the two bodies called Manomaya kosha and Gyan Amaya kosha. Within Chitra nadi is the subtlest of all the nadis the Brahma nadi. This is the spine of the causal body or Anandamaya kosha. This causal body is made of Consciousness or thought vibrations in the form of ideas. This nadi has seven centers of consciousness the chakras of the causal body. All the chakras are located within this Brahma nadi. For all practical purposes we will take the chakras located within Sushumna because Brahma nadi is itself within the Sushumna.