Ecstatic Yoga Workbook
Chakras, Nadi's & Vayus Lesson
Chakras, Nadi’s, Prana Vayus
Chakra System; Seven Chakra’s; Root, Navel, Solar Plexis, Heart, Throat, Third Eye, Crown
Chakras were first mentioned in the Vedas ancient sacred texts dating back to 1500 BC.
Chakra, or cakra in Sanskrit means “Wheel” due to the disk or wheel like nature of each chakra. Chakras are spinning disks of energy that when a body is healthy are open and aligned. The wheel or disk of energy flows from each chakra point on the body; spinning in a clockwise direction to bring energy outward to the world and counter clockwise to bring energy into the body from the outer world. The chakra system is like a spiritual nervous system consisting of a complex network of energy channels and energetic points within the body. It is said we have 114 chakras, yet the entire system of energy channels connects to 7 major chakras. The chakra system is mapped throughout the entire body, interconnected to the physical body and systems such as the nerves and major organs effecting our energetic, mental, emotional and physical well being.
The seven major chakra’s run along the spine from the tip of the tail bone to the crown of the head. Each chakra has it’s unique energy and function. If our chakra’s are open and aligned our mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health radiates, if our chakra’s are blocked it can cause imbalances and health issues in all these areas of our lives. Chakra’s can get blocked from trauma, emotional upheavals, which in turn create problems and imbalances mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically. Balancing and aligning our chakras can be done by practicing yoga, meditation, breathwork, chakra cleansing, bodywork. Even music, singing, spending time in nature or exercise can balance and align our chakras. (I will now go into how each ) Below is a description of how each individual chakra can affect our health depending if they are open and aligned or blocked.
Open and Aligned; Sense of security and grounded both physically and emotionally.
Blocked; Feelings of insecurity financially, fear for basic needs. Physical ailments such as arthritis, constipation, bladder and colon issues.
Open and Aligned; Feelings of self worth, enjoyment of pleasure, grounded in sexuality, flowing creativity.
Blocked; Urinary tract infections, lower back pain, impotency.
Solar Plexis Chakra
Open and Aligned; High self-esteem, feeling empowered and self-confident.
Blocked; Ulcers, heartburn, eating disorders, indigestion, insecurity and lacking confidence.
Open and Aligned; Feelings of love, connection, gratitude, joy.
Blocked; Heart problems, weight problems, asthma, loneliness, insecurity, isolation.
Open and Aligned; Speaking one’s truth, claiming one’s voice, speaking and listening with compassion, confidence in speaking.
Blocked; Throat and mouth issues, dominating conversations, gossiping, reactive speaking, difficulty speaking your mind.
Open and Aligned; Seeing the bigger picture, strong intuition, ability to live our truth and speak our truth.
Blocked; Headaches, vision problems, difficulty concentrating, hearing issues.
Open and Aligned; Skeptical, Stubborn, closed minded.
Blocked; Enlightenment, sense of purpose, being on your path, spiritual awakening.
Below is a description of each chakra for deeper understanding
Root; Muladhara Chakra
Activates; Survival, stability
Meaning; Material, survival
Architype; Mother, victim
Affirmation; “I have”
Navel; Swadhishthana Chakra
Activates; Sensuality, pleasure, emotions
Location; Above the genitals
Meaning; Sensual, emotional drive
Architype; Emporess/Emporor, Martyr
Affirmation; “I Feel”
Solar Plexis; Manipura Chakra
Activates; Will Power
Location; Above the navel
Meaning; Seat of will power, drive
Architype; Warrior, Servant
Statement; “I can”
Heart; Anamata Chakra
Activates; Love, Relationships
Location; Right of physical heart
Meaning; Love, compassion, drive
Architype; Lover, Actor
Statement; “I Love”
Throat; Vissudda Chakra
Activates; Communication, Creativity
Meaning; Seat of self expression and spiritual drive
Architype; Communication, silent child
Statement; “I Speak”
Third Eye; Ajna Chakra
Activates; Vision, Imagination
Location; Between the eyebrows
Meaning; Seat of Intellect/wisdom
Architype; Wise Person/Intellect
Statement; “I See”
Location; Crown of the head
Meaning; Supreme Consciousness
Statement; “I Know”
The Nadis are a part of our subtle energy body which includes a vast network of energy channels. The Nadis and Nadi network of energy allows the channels of energy to flow through our being to make each individual an integrated, aware and balanced being. The Nadi system is our core energetic system that cooperates with the energy system of the chakras and prana vayus. The healthier and more balanced the Nadi system, the healthier and more vibrant the entire body.
Nadi is a Sanskrit word meaning to flow, move, vibrate. The nature of the Nadi’s within our being is to keep energy flowing. Nadi’s flow like water flows in nature, in a mountain river… always following the path of least resistance. Tantric texts state there are 72,000 nadis channeling through the human body bringing life force energy and prana to every cell in our body. When the nadi’s are flowing optimally the body is healthy and vibrant, when the Nadi’s are congested we may experience ill health. Nadi channels vary in intensity, major channels are wider and flow stronger, some are smaller and carry a smaller intensity of energy.
Asana and Pranayama practices are powerful ways to stimulate the Nadi channels to flow optimally for optimal health and well being. When the nadi’s are flowing vibrantly they nourish and invigorate all the energy systems in the body and ultimately all the physical systems of the body.
The Three Major Nadis, Sushumna, Ida, Pingala
Sushumna (Most Gracious)
This is the main nadi pathway or central channel that runs up the entire body via the spinal column and is often called the “Great River.” The Sushumna nadi runs upward from the root chakra to the crown chakra and passes through and energizes all seven chakras to arrive at it’s true home at the crown. Many have heard the phase rising of the kundalini… this is referring to the laten serpent power that gets released from the root chakra opening, allowing that power to naturally rise up in an effortless flow to meet it’s home in the higher spiritual consciousness, blasting through the crown chakra to infinite bliss. The Sushumna Nadi is the path to enlightenment.
Like the double helix of our DNA the Ida and Pingala nadi’s spiral around the Shushumna nadi crossing over at each chakra. The Ida nadi begins and ends on the left side of the Sushumna nadi and the Pingala nadi begins and ends on the right side of the Sushumna nadi. All three nadis meet up at the ajna or third eye chakra, with the Sushuma continuing through the crown chakra and out into the more expanded bodies or Kosha’s.
The Ida nadi
Comfort, symbolized as white in color. This energy channel carries the feminine nurturing energy associated with coolness, controlling the mental aspect of the being. This feminine energy flows up from the root chakra beginning on the left side of the Sushumna nadi and spiraling around to cross at each chakra, ending at the Ajna or third eye chakra on the left side of Sushumna nadi. The Ida nadi denotes the moon or lunar aspect.
The Pingala nadi,
Twany, symbolized as red in color. This energy channel carries the masculine stimulating energy associated with warmth controlling the vital somatic processes of the being. This masculine energy flows up from the root chakra beginning on the right side of the Sushumna nadi and spiraling around to cross at each chakra, ending at the Ajna or third eye chakra on the right side of Sushumna nadi. The Pingala nadi denotes the sun or solar aspect.
The Dance of the Nadi’s
Balance is everything with the Nadi’s and until one can find balance with the Ida and Pingala nadi’s the kundalini will not awaken at the root chakra and travel up the Sushumna to the crown
for enlightenment experiences. Ida and Pingala are the dance of feminine and masculine, sun and moon, intuition and intellect, right and left sides of the body.
One of the intentions of Yoga is balance and that includes the nadi energies flowing through and around the physical and energetic bodies. Balancing the sun and moon, the masculine and feminine, activity and rest and ultimately the Ida and Pingala nadi’s is necessary in awakening the dormant kundalini energy at the root and maintaining a strong flow of energy through the Sushumna Nadi leading to awakening higher consciousness.
During the course of any day the Ida and Pingala take turns as the dominant energy, this is determined by the activities and mind sets you have from moment to moment. On a busy active day, the Pingala will most likely be more dominant, during a relaxed, slow inward day and the Ida nadi will most likely be more dominant. Although the nadi’s fluctuate in dominance from moment to moment, day to day each individual person usually has one nadi that is more predominant than the other.
A person who tends to have their Ida nadi more active has tremendous creative energy and potential with nurturing and compassionate tendencies. However, without the balance of the Pingala nadi they may not have the motivation and drive to put their creative endeavors into reality. If a person has the Pingala nadi as the dominant energy they have drive, motivation and can take action and make things happen, however they may not spend enough time in quiet, stillness and meditation to bask in the spiritual energies to experience a deep sense of awakening.
It is easy to discover which nadi is predominant at any time of day, simply check in with your nose. Depending on the nadi that is dominant, the corresponding nostril will be more open and the breath will flow stronger through that nostril; Ida is right nostril and Pingala is left nostril. Conversely, whichever nadi is less active the corresponding nostril will be more blocked to the flow of air moving through.
Balancing the nadi’s is done through yoga and pranayama.
With yoga asana practice when you want to increase your Ida energy you will want a more calming practice, samadhi, nidra, restore, floor postures, add a longer relaxation at the end of your practice. If you are wanting to increase the Pingala energy you will want to include a more energizing asana practice including standing postures, back bends, twists to your practice.
The Pranayama Nadi Shodhana is a perfect and effective way to balance the nadi energies simultaneously. The Ida nadi touches the right nostril and the Pingala nadi touches the left nostril, therefore the alternate nostril breathing that is done with Nadi Shodhana effectively and quickly balances the nadi energy in the body. Including this pranayama in your practice on a daily basis is a powerful way to assist in balancing the nadi energies and promoting the kundalini rising up from the root to the crown through the Sushumna nadi for awakening.
As you go through your yoga practice or simply your daily activities you can check which nadi is dominant by checking which nostril is more open. The nadi that is dominant will be more open and will have a stronger flow of breath through it’s corresponding nostril. Right nostril Ida, left nostril Pingala. You can also provide support when needed throughout the day by balancing your nadi’s. If you feel overly stimulated, agitated or your mind is racing your Pingala nadi is dominant and if you feel low energy, calm, lazy and unmotivated your Ida nadi is dominant. You can practice nadi shodnana or some chosen yoga postures to help balance the nadi’s for a more balanced mind, body and soul.
Prana Vayus is a sanskrit term, prana means “life force” including all vital energy systems and vayus means “wind” or “direction of energy.” The vayus are the various directions in which life force flows, and our understanding of them can help us regulate the physical body and its systems. In the Hindu tradition, the five elements - fire, earth, water, air (wind) and ether - are represented as vayus.
The prana vayus are the five movements or functions of prana, or life force that support the entire energetic system of the human body. Vayus means, literally, “wind.” This system of vital energy functions through five sub-systems called the 5 prana vayus, which are prana vayus, apana vayus, samana vayus, udana vayus, and vyana vayus. Each governs a different area of the body yet is integrated throughout the total system of human energy. A direct way to balance the vayus is through practicing yoga, breathwork and Samadhi, which not only promotes physical strength, but also helps the yogi move closer to their spiritual aspirations.
Description of each Vayus:
Chakra: Ajna or Third Eye
The prana vayu is the energy governing the acceptance of substances and information, such as air, food, water. Also governing the absorption of emotions, sensations, thoughts within the mind.
This vayus refers to all the ways we absorb energy into the body. There are many ways according to the Vayus that one absorbs or takes energy into the body. The first most obvious is through inhalation of the breath. This is the most important and powerful way we take energy into the body. Only a few minutes without breath and the body begins to struggle. There are other ways for the body to absorb prana and life force. Ingesting food and water brings prana and life force energy into the body. Also, we can absorb prana and life force energy into the body through what is referred to as all the mouths of the body. The mouths include our physical mouth, our eyes, ears and nose. We absorb energy into the body through sights, sounds and smells. We also absorb energy into the body through inspiration, ideas communicated to the mind and love, kindness and compassion communicated through the heart.
Yoga Postures that stimulate and support Prana Vayus; Heart Opening Postures.
Bridge, Camel, Bow, Cobra
Chakra: Navel, Manipura
Location: Stomach and Intestines
Samana refers to the function of prana that involves digestion and assimilation of incoming energy. Samana works in conjunction with Agni, the digestive fires to supply the internal energy and heat necessary to digest and assimilate the incoming energies and prana. Samana breaks down the constituents of incoming prana for assimulation… oxygen, food, water, ideas, thoughts, information, visual stimuli are separated out for availability for the area’s needed in the body. It includes the assimilation of information and experiences as well as physical nutrients. Creating power in the core, associated with the solar plexis, when this Vayus is in balance it promotes healthy self confidence.
Samana is often referred to as the equalizer or gatekeeper of the vayus, unifying the upper and lower energies of the body. Samana manages the energy by allowing the perfect amount of energy into the body for balance and optimal well-being. Samana also is a gatekeeper for the mind and thoughts, creating space, balance, equilibrium and equanimity within the mind. It corresponds to the individual Self. This vayus helps to allow in thoughts and impressions that are supportive to the entire system and allow us to make wise choices and maintain a healthy vibration.
Yoga Postures to stimulate and support the Samana Vayus; Core energizing
Abdominal twists, boat, crow, chair.
Chakra: Heart, Anahata
Location: Focus Lungs and Heart, All throughout the body
Vyana Vayus is the Distributor, working on the physical and energetic bodies radiating energy throughout the entire physical and energetic bodies. Physically Vyana moves the energy to the extremities, arms, legs, fingers, toes. On an energetic level Vyana brings energy to the energy systems such as the Nadi’s and Chakras, supporting, balancing and vitalizing the overall energy of the body.
Vyana is the flow of energy as it distributes life force throughout the body. Vyana is a force that creates flow. It can flow in all directions… bending, moving energy to the sides, upward or down, expanding and contracting energy. The flow of Vyana distributes energy and moves energy through the blood and circulatory system, the lymph and nervous system.
Circulation, Ascending Breath & Movement
Udana creates upward movement of energy within the body. This vayus will eventually be responsible for assisting the spirit up and out of the body upon death.
Udana is associated with the throat chakra and moving energy upward to the throat and above, enhancing communication, song, speech, self-expression. Udana also brings higher vision, inspiration and awakening, directing prana to the energy centers of the brain and central axis of the energy body. Responsible for bringing energetic flow from the lower to higher planes. Assists in ascending in consciousness. It supports reason and perception in the mind.
A person with a strong flow of Udana enjoys high states of being, engages in high vision, spiritually awakened states of consciousness. Udana energy promotes vitality of body and spirit, transformation of body and spirit and revitalizes the entire physical and energetic systems.
Yoga postures that stimulate and support Udana Vayus: Flow to Upper Body.
Headstand, Shoulder Stand, Half Shoulder Stand, Fish.
Exhalation & Elimination, Downward Movement
Chakra: Root, Mulahara
Location: Base of the torso
Apana is responsible for elimination of wastes and exhalation. The movement is downward and outward and is located at the base of the torso and effects digestion. Apana is connected to the Earth and grounding. Apana manages and influences all forms of elimination of waste products in the body… urination, defecation, mentration, perspiration, ejaculation and even childbirth. Apana also helps us to eliminate that which no longer serves us mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Yoga postures that stimulate and support Apana Vayus: Grounding Postures
Tree, all standing postures, seated forward fold, bound angle.
Balancing the Vayus
The Prana Vayus are connected to the chakra energy system, therefore both systems interact and support one another. When one system is out of balance it will effect the other, and when one system is balanced it can assist the other in coming into homeostasis. Relaxation is said to be the most efficient means to keeping our energy systems vitalized, balanced and healthy. Samadhi is the deepest form of relaxation in yoga, therefore a superior practice for maintaining healthy balanced energy and pranic systems in the body.
Many energy physicians confirm that physical illness begins in the energy body prior to it affecting and creating illness in the physical body. Therefore, keeping our energy body and systems balanced, healthy and vitalized is of utmost importance to the overall health of mind, body and spirit.