he presence of positively and negatively charged particles activating
the body and mind enables us to live in this world, but nature's
wonders do not stop there. Man has devised a method to split the atom
and release nuclear energy. In the same way he can also release a
greater quantum of energy within his own being. In ancient days rishis
used their knowledge of the principles of nature to boost the pranic
energy in order to accelerate the evolution of human consciousness.
The only difference between modern and ancient methods of producing
energy is that one utilizes external sources and the other internal.
The pranic network within the body operates on much the same basis as
the energy system in nuclear, hydraulic and thermal power stations.
The pressure of rapidly flowing water or rising steam rotates turbines
which generate electricity. This action can create a powerful magnetic
field that can be collected and stored in accumulators.
Similarly, yogis describe how the pranic field within the body is
charged by respiration. The process of respiration thus generates
energy. This energy can then be directed into certain pranic
accumulators, known as chakras, for storage. From the electrical power
station, the energy is sent to substations through special high
voltage wire cabling. Once it has reached this stage of processing, it
is passed through transformers which reduce the voltage so that it is
useful for specific purposes. The same principle applies to the
physical body, only here the high voltage channels for conduction of
energy are not wire cables, they are nadis.
The nadi network
The physical body is structured by an underlying system of nadis. In
recent times the nadi system has been associated with the nervous
system. However, references in the Chhandogya and Brihadaranyaka
Upanishads clearly state that nadis are entirely subtle in nature. The
word nadi comes from the Sanskrit root nada, which means flow. Nada is
a resonating and subtle vibration. Therefore, nadis are subtle flows
of vibration. The Upanishads explain that the nadis penetrate the body
from the soles of the feet to the crown of the head, carrying prana,
the breath of life. The atman is the source of Shakti and the animator
of all the worlds. The entire network of nadis is so vast that even
yogic texts differ in their calculation of the exact number.
References in the Goraksha Sataka or Samhita and Hatha Yoga Pradipika
place their number at 72,000; the Prapanchasara Tantra says 300,000;
while the Shiva Samhita states that 350,000 emerge from the navel
centre. Regardless of the exact figure, the description of their
structure is always the same - thin strand-like threads, similar to
those of the lotus stem, which emanate from the spinal column.
Scientific research has been carried out to determine what and where
The major nadis
In any electrical circuit, three specific wires are required for
conduction - one positive, one negative and one neutral. Likewise,
within the body there are three specific nadis for conducting energy.
In yoga we refer to the negative line as ida, the channel of manas
shakti or mental force. The positive line is pingala, which channels
the dynamic energy of prana shakti. In order to avoid short-circuiting
of these lines there is a third channel, sushumna, which functions as
an earth wire, The Shiva Swarodaya names ten major nadis which connect
to the 'doorways' leading in and out of the body. Of these ten, ida,
pingala and sushumna are most important. They are the high voltage
wires which conduct the energy to the substations or chakras situated
along the spinal column.
The seven lesser nadis are:
Gandhari = connected to the left eye;
Hasiijihva = connected to the right eye;
Poosha = connected to the right ear;
Yashaswini = connected to the left ear;
Alambusha = connected to the mouth;
Kuhu = connected to the reproductive organs;
Shankhini = connected to the rectum.
Other Upanishads talk about 14 to 19 significant nadis and include
jihva, kurma, payaswini, Saraswati, saumya, shura, varuni, vilambha
So for all practical purposes one need only concentrate on ida,
pingala and sushumna, as these three govern the whole system of the
nadis and body processes.
Positive and negative aspect
It is necessary to understand that ida and pingala are opposite
aspects of the one prana or shakti. At the macrocosmic level, maha
prana ranges from gross and tangible to subtle and intangible.
Similarly, in the body, microcosmic prana is polarized into ida and
pingala, and these are symbolized by the terms negative and positive.
These terms are purely descriptive and should not be confused with
positive and negative ions or with positive and negative states of
mind. For example, the overall effect of negative ions in the body is
said to be 'positive', whereas the positive symbolism of pingala
refers to the physical level of activation, and the negative symbolism
of ida refers to the mental level. Therefore, we have to be careful
that we have a clear understanding of positive and negative energy
when we talk about the nadis.
Ida nadi, the negative channel, brings consciousness into every part
of the body. The Shiva Swarodaya likens its nature to the energy
created by the moon; therefore, it is also known as the Chandra or
lunar nadi. Ida is associated with the parasympathetic nervous system
(PNS), which sends impulses to the visceral organs to stimulate the
internal processes. This creates a general state of relaxation in the
superficial muscles, thus lowering the outer body temperature.
Therefore, it is said that ida is cooling, relaxing and introverting.
The pathway of ida differs from that of pingala. Ida originates at a
point just below the base of the spine where the first energy centre,
known as mooladhara chakra, is located. It emerges from the left side
of mooladhara and spirals upwards, intersecting at the other four
energy centres and plexuses in the spinal column, and comes to a point
of termination at the root of the left nostril, which joins ajna
chakra, the sixth energy centre. Some texts describe ida as rising
straight up from mool-adhara to ajna without intersecting at any
junction. This could be taken to be symbolic of the fact that the
energy fields of ida govern the left side of the spinal column and the
whole left half of the body. In this regard the analogy of the magnet
is useful in terms of describing positive and negative poles and their
relativity. If we cut a magnet in half, either end of the magnet
assumes opposite polarity. Similarly, in the body, organs on the right
are polarized so that pingala governs the right side of the organ and
ida the left. According to swara yoga, left nostril breathing
influences the activities of manas Shakti, and indicates that
introversion and mental creativity predominate so that any extremely
dynamic or extrovert activity should be avoided. The swara yogi thus
manipulates the flow of air in the left nostril in order to control
ida directly and either bring about its influence at will or suppress
it when necessary.
Pingala is the transmitter of prana Shakti. It is the positive aspect,
also known as the Surya or solar nadi because its energy is as
invigorating as the sun's rays. Pingala energy activates the physical
body and externalizes awareness. It is associated with the sympathetic
nervous system (SNS), which releases adrenaline to stimulate the
superficial muscles. The SNS prepares the body to cope with stress and
external activity; for example, it makes the heart beat rapidly and
heats the body. Therefore, it is said that pingala is energizing,
heating and extroverting. Pingala emerges on the right hand side of
mooladhara, exactly opposite to ida. It spirals up the spinal column,
crossing ida at the four major energy centres, and terminates at the
root of the right nostril. Pingala governs the whole right side of the
body. To control pingala the breath in the right nostril is
It is being rooted in mooladhara charka and terminating in the
Sahasrar chakra when it is in its dormant state. But the real purpose
of sushumna is to provide a channel for the spiritual energy, which is
a greater force than either manas or prana Shakti. For this reason the
yogis developed particular techniques to activate sushumna. Of all the
thousands of nadis, sushumna is said to be the most important. Little
is said about the nature or function of these nadis in swara yoga.
The act of breathing is called Swara. The Sanskrit word Swara means
the sound of one's own breath. Yoga means union. Therefore, Swarayoga
is the union of different vibrations of breath that alter our
psycho-physiological activity. It is a systematic practice of the
observation of the breath flow through the nostrils in relation to the
time of day, the position of the moon, sun, planets, seasons and the
play of five basic elements earth, water, fire, air and space with the
physical, mental and emotional conditions of the practising
individual. Swara breathing is a process, which can be manipulated and
controlled whenever you want to. It helps us to understand how to
maximise our potential, control moods, heal ailments and be attuned to
the cosmic rhythm.
There are three main Swaras. These are known as Chander Swar (Ida
Naddi), Surya Swar (Pingala Naddi), Shoonya Swar (Sushumna Naddi).
These three Naddis operate alternately for certain duration of time
because the flow of breath changes every hour.
Chander Swar or Ida nadi
The left nostril is called Chander Swar & is connected to the Ida
network of Naddis. The word Naddi literally means 'flow' or 'current’.
These Naddis are creative energy channels of conscious energy. Ida
Naddi is ruled by the Moon & is associated with mental activities,
parasympathetic nervous system and relaxation. Ida Naddi, which is the
feminine, is associated with the right hemisphere of the brain and
controls the left side of the body. When Ida is flowing, the breath
will be more in the left nostril. It indicates that the mental energy
is dominant. The mind is passive, cool, introverted and any kind of
mental work can be undertaken. It is like nectar and gives strength
and nourishment to the soul and the body.
Surya Swara or Pingala nadi
The right nostril is called Surya Swar and is connected to the Pingala
network of Naddis. Pingala Naddi is ruled by the Sun & is associated
with Pranic activities (physical activities), sympathetic nervous
system and stress. Pingala Naddi, which is the masculine, is
associated with the left hemisphere of the brain and controls the
right side of the body. When Pingala is flowing, the breath will be
more in the right nostril. It indicates that the vital energy is
dominant. The mind is active, extroverted, & any kind of physical work
can be undertaken. It is responsible for the growth of the body.
Shoonya Swara or Sushumna nadi
When Ida and Pingala Naddis flow together then the main channel The
Third Swara or Shoonya Swara is stimulated. It is called Sushumna
Naddi. It is located at the base of the spine & it travels directly up
through the spinal cord. Sushumna unites both Ida & Pingala at the
eyebrow centre in the region of medulla oblongata. When both nostrils
flow together, both hemispheres operate in unison. The physical organs
& mental organs function simultaneously & it indicates that the mind
is blissful, calm, pure, balanced & the spiritual energy is in power &
time is good for concentration, meditation, and worship. In subtle
body terms the Sushumna Naddi is the path to enlightenment.
Principle of flow of the swara
The first 14 days from the new moon to the full moon is called bright
fortnight. On the 15th tithi (date) the moon is full, this is called
Poornima. The next 14 days between the full moon to the new moon is
called darker fortnight. On the 15th tithi (date) there is no moon &
this is called Amavasya.
In Swara cycle, during bright fortnight (Poornima) Chandra Naddi (Ida)
becomes active at sunrise on days 1, 2, 3, 7, 8, 9, 13, 14, 15.
Throughout the day Ida & Pingala function alternately in 60-90 minutes
cycles. At sunset, Surya Naddi begins to function on the same days. On
days, 4, 5, 6,10,11,12 the Surya Naddi flows at sunrise and Chadnra
Naddi at sunset.
During darker fortnight (Amavasya) Surya Naddi (Pingala) becomes
active at sunrise on days 16, 17, 18, 22, 23, 24, 28, 29, 30.
Throughout the day Pingala & Ida, function alternately in 60-90
minutes cycles. At sunset, Chandra Nadi begins to function on the same
days. On days, 19, 20, 21, 25, 26, 27 the Chandra Naddi flows at
sunrise and Surya Naddi at sunset. It goes on up to full moon.
Right and left hemispheres of the brain
1. The specific functions of the cerebral region of the brain also
correlate with the activities of ida and pingala. The cerebrum is
symmetrical, consisting of the right and left hemispheres. The right
hemisphere governs the left side of the body and the left hemisphere
governs the right side of the body. Ida is connected to the right
hemisphere and pingala to the left. The right hemisphere processes
information in a diffuse and wholistic manner. It controls orientation
in space and is particularly sensitive to the vibrational realm of
existence and those experiences which are intangible to the external
sense receptors. Thus it is responsible for psychic and extrasensory
perception, and stimulates creative, artistic and musical abilities.
Conversely, the left hemisphere in relation to pingala is responsible
for rational, analytical and mathematical ability. In the left
hemisphere, information is processed sequentially, linearly and
2. In this way the hemispheres, in association with the nadis, control
and motivate our responses in day to day life. Each hemisphere is also
associated with the arousal of different emotions. Some neurologists
have described the right hemisphere as 'sad' and the left as 'happy'.
3. It has even been observed that a positive emotional stimulus
activates the left hemisphere and a negative emotional stimulus
stimulates the right. Furthermore, left/right activities cause a
person to react in a particular manner under certain circumstances.
4. The left hemisphere has been noted to create an aggressive response
or the 'fight' reaction, whereas the right hemisphere causes a person
to withdraw and become a passive participant or to 'flee'.
Neurologists have also found a correlation between male/ female
responses and left/right brain functions. It seems that women are
liable to rely more on right hemisphere strategies than men, which
verifies why they are considered to be ida predominant. As far as
science has probed, the difference in mental capacities is possibly
related to different ratios of sex hormones affecting the structure of
5. Whatever the physiological cause may be, it definitely corresponds
to the fact that ida is considered the female principle and pingala
the male. The tantric concept of Shiva/Shakti, the twin forces
existing within each individual, can be seen in the structure of the
brain and pranic body in terms of ida and pingala. It certainly
substantiates the idea of a person having two minds, one positive and
the other negative, and even the theory that there is a male and
female side in everyone
Effects on physical , emotional and mental state
1. If Ida Naddi is flowing and there is physical work to be done, it
is possible to redirect the flow of the breath to Pingala Naddi to
obtain the necessary energy. On the other hand, if study or mental
work is required, one can redirect the flow of the breath to Ida Naddi
to obtain the necessary energy.
2. To cure the common cold, sinusitis, asthma, indigestion, block the
left nostril & breathe through the right nostril 21 times. Also
sleeping on the left side gives relief as it activates the right
3. To cure acidity, hypertension, headache, stress, diabetes and
fever, block the right nostril & breathe through the left nostril 21
times. Also sleeping on the right side gives relief as it activates
the left nostril.