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Everywhere we read about yoga we find information about chakras, therefore we would assume that both concepts are deeply connected. But how chakras and yoga relate to each other? And how can we bring this to our daily lives?
In my eBook “Change your life with yoga while you make the world more sustainable” I cover a bunch of information related to my Yoga Teacher Training course in Rishikesh, India, and some of the basic theories of yoga. For now, let’s dig deep into some of the most important topics to understand what yoga is about: the chakras meaning and its nadis.
For us to understand the chakras, we must explore yoga as a whole. And in this article, I will start with the etymology of the concept “hatha” yoga and the three nadis that rule the flow of our energy.
The Sun & the Moon energies
The Sanskrit word “Hatha” can be broken down into two smaller words: HA, meaning “sun,” and THA, meaning “moon.”
“The term Hatha makes reference to this practice and is often explained as the conjunction of the feminine solar force – HA – and the masculine lunar force – THA –” Definition of Gaia
HA: “Sun”, “Masculine”, “Active”, “Surya” & “right side of the body”
THA: “Moon”, “Feminine”, “Passive”, “Chandra” & “left side of the body”
Here’s a quick example: Ashtanga is a series of asanas based on the activation of our bodies, ideal to practice during the day time. When it’s full moon we should avoid practising Ashtanga because the energies are different in full moon and we would get our bodies very active.
The best practice to balance both energies is with the alternative breathing Pranayama. This practice is to balance out the masculine and feminine side. Because we all have both energies.
If you ever feel sleepy after lunch and must go back to work, try the alternative breathing starting by the right side. If you can’t sleep, try the opposite – starting with the left nostril.
In our physical practices, we are striving to integrate the solar and lunar energies of the body. Typically, this process of conjoining energies was accomplished through a combination of physical asanas, breathing exercises and meditative contemplations.
The overall aim of this practice of conjoining energies was to activate the vital life force (Kundalini) that is said to lie dormant in the central channel. We explain more about this in the upcoming chapter of chakras.
The ruling nadis
In our bodies, we find energy channels or pathways for the energy to flow. In total, we have over 72,000 nadis, which are managed by three main nadis.
1. Pingla Nadi
This Nadi exists to make us active, and as we learned earlier, it will get us connected with the “Ha”, the sun. Pingla Nadi is a channel that gives us activeness.
One of the first series of asanas you will learn at any yoga school is the “Sun salutation”. If you pay attention, you will notice that the right side goes first. And this is because we are intending to connect with the sun inside of us.
As a curious detail, those who are right-handed have more solar energy, and my notes say that is people with a good memory.
2. Ida Nadi.
This Nadi is responsible for our laziness, for the relaxation. In the “Moon salutations” you will start this asana series with the left side instead. The Chandra, our left nostril, is connected with the right brain and it is responsible to follow our intuition.
Now, do you remember when I mentioned that you never breathe through both nostrils simultaneously? If you check your nostril every 60-90 minutes, you will realise that either the right or the left will be active. This is because it’s the period in which the fluctuation of the energy happens between the Pingla Nadi and the Ida Nadi.
It’s because of this necessary fluctuation of the energy, that at certain times of the day we switch from active to relaxed and back again to active and so on, so forth. When you experience one of these moments, observe which nostril is active.
3. Shusumna Nadi.
Now the third Nadi that rules over Pingla and Ida. It belongs to the very centre and so, it’s located right in the spine.
This is another reason why the spine is so important: it gives us strength. When you were at school, did the teachers ever told you to sit straight? Probably most teachers in the occident would say the reason is to learn “discipline”. The real benefit in our lives by keeping a straight position is because we will achieve a balance between the Pingla Nadi and our Ida Nadi through the Shusumna Nadi.
In a very practical way, meditation is a great technique to create that balance between our nadis. Again, the easiest way to prepare for a successful meditation session or just activating our nadis at any time of the day is by using the alternate breathing. You can do it anywhere, anytime, at any cost.
Now, we are one step closer to understanding the chakras.
“Yoga is the perfect opportunity to be curious about who you are.” Jason Crandell
The Chakras meaning and how they work
We have seven chakras, and here is a full infographic that will provide you with all the information you need to know on each of the chakras, including how to balance, the best postures and food!
Mooladhara (etymology “moola” means the root) which is the storage of energy. This is where the Kundalini sleeps. Kundalini is often described as dormant serpent energy coiled up at the base of the spine.
“Imagine a resting snake, coiled eight times, waiting to unleash its magnificent power at the base of a great mountain. She has within her infinite energy potentiating. She is the force of creation, resting, longing to rise up to be in union with consciousness at the heights of spiritual bliss”. Definition reference article
If the Shusumna Nadi is active during meditation, the next natural step is to activate the Kundalini.
Moving this energy from the first to the sixth chakra is what it takes to activate the Kundalini. When we get to the top is when we feel the oneness instead of the duality. Apparently, a very nice feeling to have.
Kundalini is like reaching your highest potential, how to use your body and your mind in 100 per cent.