Nadis form part of the subtle anatomy as defined by Yoga. The Hatha Yoga Pradipika states there are 72,000 Nadis, and The Shiva Samhita says there are 350,00.

The term Nadi is defined as a channel for Prana to flow

Nadis congregate and intersect at several locations forming Chakras, or
plexuses of subtle energy, just as nerves accumulate and become nerve plexuses at major locations in the gross body.   


The Central Nervous System (CNS) is the bodies communications
structure. Information from the senses is sent to the brain, and the brain then delivers the data out to the body back through the CNS


The Autonomic nervous system (ANS) a section of the CNS is
responsible for the bodies involuntary functions. The ANS is subdivided into the sympathetic nervous system, or Pingala Nadi and the Parasympathetic nervous system, or Ida Nadi


The Sympathetic nervous system is controlled the Hypothalamus, with the nerves spreading on both sides of the spinal cord, connecting to nerve plexuses and correspondingly to Chakras. 

  • Cervical Plexus  –  Vishuddhi Chakra
  • Cardiac Plexus  –  Anahata Chakra
  • Enteric Plexus  –  Manipura Charkra
  • Lumbar Plexus  –  Swadhistana Chakra
  • Lumbar Plexus  –  Swadhistana Chakra
  • Pelvic Plexus  –  Muladhara Chakra    

The Sympathetic nervous system is our fight and flight response. If a threat exists the Hypothalamus sends signals throughout the
Sympathetic system preparing for action. The heart rate and blood pressure increases, blood Glucose is generated and the air passages open.


The Parasympathetic nervous system runs along the Vagus nerve,
descending from the brain stem through the neck, chest, stomach and connects organ to organ.

The Parasympathetic nervous system is our rest and relax response. The heart rate and blood pressure drops, and the airways are constricted.
The Parasympathetic nervous system restores the body back to a normal state.


The brain is divided into left and right hemispheres. The right side of the brain is in control of the Parasympathetic nervous system and the left side the Sympathetic nervous system.

Yoga places the regulating and controlling of the two opposite sides very highly, and prescribes Pranayama as a tool for this task.

Yoga says the right side of the brain is linked to Ida Pingala, and the left nostril, and the left side of the brain is linked to the right nostril and
Pingala Nadi.

During the course of the day, the nostrils alternate so that at any given time one nostril will be more open that the other.

This is said to be because the nostrils share the load, as the nostrils have different scent receptors, and the Cilia are rested during the closed.

This means over the course of a 24 hour period, we will swing between the two opposite poles of Ida and Pingala. The Pranayama practice of Nadi Shodhana, or alternate nostril breathing is said to bring balance between the two channels.


Yoga describes three main energy channels, or Nadis, which transcend and traverse the spinal column around the Chakras

  • Ida Nadi – left channel – left nostril – right brain – Parasympathetic nervous system – rest & relax
  • Pingala Nadi  –  right channel  –  right nostril  –  left brain
  • Sympathetic nervous system  –  fight & flight
  • Shushumna Nadi  –  both channels  –  both brains  –  neutral      


When Ida and Pingala Nadis are harmonised, Shushumna Nadi opens. Prana rises through the central Nadi facilitating meditation.    

Shushmna Nadi is said to be composed of layers of subtle energy
containing the three qualities of Tamas, Rajas and Sattva.
Shushumna Nadi becomes more refined until at the core it is beyond the qualities

The out layer is said to represent Tamas as it is dormant. Inside the outer layer is Vajrana Nadi, which is Rajasic in nature. Within this is Chittra Nadi, equating to Sattva. Beneath all is Brahma Nadi, or the gateway to Brahman

Martin Thompson


Call Martin on: 07787357306