For those who like a very complete picture of yoga in its various aspects, here is some relevant material from The Philosophy of Gorakhnath regarding the nadis.
“The Yogi teachers, while recognizing that the Nadis are countless, mention that there are at least seventy-two thousand Nadis throughout the body.…The brain and the spinal column play the most important role in the nervous system. The brain, which is called Sahasrara-chakra (a wheel of a thousand spokes or a thousand-petalled Lotus), is the chief instrument through which Reason and Moral Consciousness and Enlightened Mind reveal themselves and exercise their influence upon the whole organism. This is the supreme part of the nervous system. The Spinal Cord standing in the middle of the body keeps up the balance of the whole organism. Other nerves are joined to the Spinal Cord. The Spinal Cord is often called Brahma-danda or Meru-danda.
“…Sushumna is the most important Nadi from the yogic point of view. It is often called Brahma-Nadi. Arising from Mulakanda, Sushumna passes from Muladhara through Brahma danda (spinal cord) up to Brahma-randhra in the Sahasrara (cerebrum). Sushumna as the central Nadi plays the most significant role in the development of our intellectual and moral and spiritual life. It is the path in which our vital and mental energy moves upward for the realization of the supreme ideal in the highest plane of experience. It is the fine path through which Kundalini Shakti, which normally lies asleep as it were in Muladhara, rises up when awakened for being consciously united with Shiva in Sahasrara, which is often called the capital-city of Shiva. When all energy is concentrated in Sushumna and ascends through it to the highest plane in Sahasrara, the individual consciousness is spiritually illumined by the transcendent self-luminosity of Shiva. But this is not the place for the elaboration of this topic. Suffice it to say here, that Sushumna is the most central and most important Nadi in the whole system.
“Next in importance to Sushumna are Ida and Pingala. They also issue out from the same common center, and flowing by either side of Sushumna they are said to be connected with the two nostrils and to be united in a vital center just between the two visual organs. They are conceived as in the service of all the respiratory organs. As respiration occupies a very important position in the preservation and harmonization and development of the individual life and as through the control and regulation of the process of respiration most of the vital organs can be brought under voluntary control and their operations regulated according to will and purpose, the importance of Ida and Pingala cannot from the yogic point of view be overestimated. The Yogis speak of Ida as Chandra-Nadi and Pingala as Surya-Nadi, the former being connected with the left nostril and latter with the right nostril. They are regarded as on the two sides of Sushumna. Their pulsations are vitally interconnected with movements of Prana-Vayu. Our vital energy is normally restless, and it moves round and round through Ida and Pingala with every breath, and through them passes on to other Nadis and vitalizes the different organs. With the restlessness of the vital energy our mental energy also moves on restlessly. They are very closely related. A yogi through the systematic practice of breath-control can bring the restless movements of the vital and mental energy under his voluntary control and can even bring them to a state of perfect rest. Control of breath and control of the movements of Ida and Pingala play a very important part in this yogic discipline. Ida and Pingala can be unified in Sushumna and thereby the whole energy may be concentrated for truth-realization.”
A closer look
“As it has been mentioned in course of the discussion on the nervous system, the Sushumna-Nadi is the finest and most brilliant and sensitive nerve which passes through the spinal column and links the lowest center of vital and psychical energy (muladhara) with the highest (Sahasrara). Though it is evolved in and forms a part of the individual physical body, it is conceived as the most efficient channel for the continuous flow of the vital and psychical energy between the lowest and the highest planes. It appears to be of the nature of an ever-flowing current (having in normal life both an upward and a downward direction), which carries the energy upward and downward. When viewed in a gross way, the Nadi seems to be almost straight and the current practically smooth and even. But to deeper insight it is revealed that there are certain divisions and turning points in the current and at certain centers there are wheels or whirls which are called by the yogis chakras. These chakras exercise considerable influence upon the velocity as well as the direction of the flow of energy in the inner life of an individual. Sometimes they create revolutions in the vital propensities and mental dispositions of individuals.” So concludes Banerjea.
Chapters in So’ham Yoga: the Yoga of the Self
Preface to Soham Yoga: Yoga and Freedom
Read about the meanings of unfamiliar terms in A Brief Sanskrit Glossary.
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