Updated: Apr 17
What is the Sushumna Nadi, and why is it so important?
There are 72,000 nadis - energy channels within the body that are responsible for carrying out our prana, life force energy. Of these 72,000, all begin at the navel center, the manipura charka, except for the 3 major and most important Nadis in Kundalini Awkening: Ida, Pingala, and Sushumna.
These 3 main nadis begin at the mooladhara (root chakra at base of spine), and channel all the way up to our nostrils. They are considered to be the 3 most important of the nadis because they are responsible for the flow of our breath that keeps us alive. Yoga has such a great emphasis from its awareness of the breath being the ultimate ticket to self mastery - if we can control the breath, then we can control the mind. This is why in kriya practice, we do so much pranayama (breath work) and retention. We channel this energy in different mudras, asanas, bandhas - to forcibly purify our energy centers which are blocked. We are learning how to control and channel our energy for our spiritual evolution, and ultimately, liberation.
Now, typically in the average person, there is always one nostril which is "active" - meaning, one that is clogged (20% air flowing) and one which is more free (80% air flowing). This tells us our state of mind. As ida, the left channel is associated with our internal, calm feminine energy, pingala, the right channel is associated with our external, proactive masculine energy. In kriya yoga, we can learn how to manipulate the body through practice with this knowledge, balance and discipline ida and pingala nadi, and eventually awaken sushumna.
Here from the most commonly distributed book in Kundalini Yoga teacher trainings, a passage from Kundalini Tantra by Swami Satyananda Saraswati:
“Ida and pingala function in the body alternately and not simultaneously. It you observe your nostrils, you will find that generally one is flowing freely and the other is blocked. When the left nostril is open, it is the lunar energy or ida nadi which is flowing. When the right nostril is free, the solar energy or pingala nadi is flowing. Investigations have shown that when the right nostril is flowing, the left hemisphere of the brain is activated. When the left nostril is flowing, the right hemisphere is activated. This is how the nadis or energy channels control the brain and the events of life and consciousness. Now, if these two energies - prana and chitta, pingala and ida, life and consciousness, can be made to function simultaneously, then both hemispheres of the brain can be made to function simultaneously and to participate together in the thinking, living, intuitive and regulating processes. In ordinary life this does not happen because the simultaneous awakening and functioning of life force and consciousness can take place only if the central canal, sushumna, is connected with kundalini, the source of energy. If sushumna can be connected in the physical body, it can reactivate the brain cells and create a new physical structure.”
Sushumna nadi, the central channel which flows through both nostrils, is not awakened in the average person. It is energetically the ultimate reason of why we cannot meditate. It is asleep, clogged through various blocks of the chakras. It is the place which Kundalini rises. When people have Kundalini awakening without proper guidance and lifestyle, they have major problems because such powerful energy is trying to be free, and can get stuck in various chakras. This causes the horror stories you read about online, such as hyper sexual activity and psychosis. Luckily, there is a very special practice which can free us from all this, called Nadi Shuddi Kriya.
This practice is made to speed up the process of awakening sushumna drastically, and if done daily this can be accomplished within 1 year. Otherwise, to achieve sushumna activation just by practicing nadi shodhana pranayama (alternate nostril breathing) alone can up to take many, many years.
This practice is being shared openly as a public service for anyone who may be struggling. I offer community class as well as private coaching for those who feel they need additional guidance.
Nadi Shuddi Kriya Practice to balance Ida, Pingala, and awaken Sushumna
Shuddi = Cleansing, Kriya=Action 20-25 minutes No Contraindications, anyone 10+ can practice
Benefits: balanced appetite, improves energy, sleeping patterns, less need for sleep
Contraindication: Do not practice during cough or cold, may make it worse. With these conditions, practice bhastrika, surya nedi, kapalbhati, these pranayamas will help.
Step 1: 10(L) + 10(R) + 5(B) – 10(L) + 10(R) + 5(B) Repeat 8-10 minutes Breath left nostril 10 times, Right 10 times, Both 5 Long, deep breathing without any tension or pausing
Step 2: Anuloma Vilome (alternate nostril breathing) 8-10 minutes Pranav Mudra (vishnu mudra) (In morning, start with right nostril - inhale both/exhale right, or evening, inhale both/ exhale left) May be practiced with or without Kumbhaka (breath retention) - Kumbhaka helps speed up balancing, those with hypertension, heart disease, high blood pressure, asthma, do not practice kumbhaka. If Kumbhaka incorporated, do same duration of retention during inner and outer retention (vaya and antar Kumbaka) ex: for beginning, 3 seconds hold on inhale, and 3 seconds hold exhale
Step 3: Continue step 2, Anuloma Vilome with Om chanting in between, 8-10 minutes Inhale both, exhale left, inhale left, exhale right, inhale both out loud (yet silence preferred) “Om” chanting. Inhale right, exhale left, inhale both, Om. Sequence continues in this way. On the “Mmm” sound, perform khechari mudra, do not touch teeth. Repeat for the duration of time. Om Chanting helps to vibrate the nervous system.
Step 4: Shavasana 8-10 minutes
If you would like to receive live instruction, you can sign up for individual coaching or join our next live class under "book online".