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According to Sarira Traya, a person has “3 bodies”, namely Karana Sarira (causal body – innermost body), Sukshma Sarira (subtle body – middle) and Sthula Sarira (gross body – outermost body). The way various nerves, arteries, and veins act on the gross body to carry the nerve impulses, blood, and other nutrients throughout the body. Likewise, nadis and chakras are the transmission medium that carries and spreads the prana consciousness in the subtle body.
However, since nadis and chakras are phenomena of the subtle and causal body, they cannot be seen with the naked physical eye. It can only be observed in deep meditation as these are present in Pranamaya Kosha. Pranamaya Kosha is one of 5 koshas (sheath) that arise after a yogi has successfully passed Annamaya Kosha – the physical "food sheath".
Chakra formation & Nadis
When it is said that chakras are the energy centers, what is it that makes them the energy center?
The energy of the chakras is actually the manifestation of the pranic movement induced by the constant flow of prana in the nadis. Prana is the universal life energy that keeps us alive. When nadis are purified and prana flows harmoniously in it, the convergence of nadis forms chakras. Since Prana is life energy, it creates a vibratory movement in the chakra (where it criss-crosses itself in nadis). This vibratory movement, while very subtle, is responsible for a person's mood, behavior, thought process, and many complex bodily functions. That is why chakras are called the energy centers in the body.
According to yogic texts, there are 72,000 nadis or the energy paths that exist in a definitive pattern through and around the whole body from the soles of the feet to the crown of the head. Their location, functions, nature and other characteristics are fixed in all people. All nadis come from two centers in the body; Kandasthana (below the navel) and heart. However, nadis are present throughout the body with the focus of energy flowing through the central channel along the spine and head.
The 7 chakras and 3 nadis
7 chakras that we usually know in yoga are located along the spinal cord. This is because the flow of energy along the spine is enhanced due to the three main nadis Ida, Pingala and Sushumna.
Each of the 7 chakras is represented by the lotus flower with a certain number of petals. In a chakra, the number of petals on the lotus flower actually shows different little nadis (nadikas) that meet at that chakra. Furthermore, the vibrational sound of a particular chakra is determined by the intensity of the prana that flows through nadis and forms a chakra. And that sound is represented by a Sanskrit letter written on the petals of a particular chakra.
1. Muladhara Chakra
The first chakra, Muladhara, is located at the base of the spinal cord and contains 4 nadis. These 4 nadis themselves are called main nadis; namely Sushumna, Ida, Pingala and downward flowing energy (Apana).
The sound of these 4 nadis at the root chakra is indicated by 4 Sanskrit letters va (वं), scha (श), sha (षं) and sa (सं) on the lotus leaves. Furthermore, each of these letters is associated with Vrittis (quality), which is felt when the Kundalini awakens.
The Kundalini of the Goddess slumbers in Muladhara as long as Ida or Pingala Nadi prevail. It can only be done through Sushumna Nadi and Sushumna can only be opened when there is a balance of Prana flow in Ida and Pingala.
2. Svadhishthana Chakra
The Svadhishthana chakra is a predominant energy center from the moon. Its quality is more similar to that of Ida Nadi, i.e. H. Cool, calming, and relaxing. It is associated with the water element.
6 Nadis come from the Svadhishthana chakra. Again, the vibration generated by these nadis is shown through the lotus flowers of this chakra.
These 6 petals symbolize six obstacles on the path of development: anger, hatred, greed, jealousy, cruelty, laziness. Ida Nadi has mastered all of these obstacles in the Svadhishthana chakra and its overactivity can be calmed by practicing right nostril breathing.
3. Manipura Chakra
In the Manipura chakra the properties of the solar energy channel predominate, i.e. H. Pingala Nadi. It is associated with the fire element. Since Pingala Nadi is known for courage, intuition and Rajasic quality, the Manipura chakra is the giver of physical strength and creativity.
There are 10 nadis that come from the Manipura chakra and are represented by a mantra written on the symbol of that chakra. In the gross physical body, this nadis function is related to the digestive system and the pancreas.
4. Anahata Chakra
According to Kandasthana, the heart is the place where the maximum number of nadis (101) come from the body. It makes the anahata chakra a powerful energy center that connects the lower physical chakras with the upper psychic chakras.
The Anahata chakra, the center of compassion, love and care, is again a center dominated by Ida Nadi. The grounding properties of Ida make the heart chakra a suitable center for naturally focusing on deep meditation.
12 syllables on petals are 12 nadis that go through this chakra, representing the mental changes (when the chakra is unbalanced) and the characteristics of the heart (when the chakra is balanced). It is associated with the calm of the air element.
Nadis radiate in the heart chakra, regulate the circulatory system, the respiratory tract and the autoimmune system and are connected to the thymus gland in the gross body.
5. Vishuddha Chakra
The Vishuddha chakra is in the throat area. The quality of the throat chakra is influenced by the dominance of pingala nadi. It gives a person strong communication skills, a vision of creation, and willpower.
There are 16 nadis encountering this chakra, which makes it the most powerful of the lower chakras. It is connected to the etheric element. Physically speaking, nadis of the throat chakra govern the airways and are connected to the thyroid gland.
6. Ajna Chakra
The Ajna Chakra, also known as the Third Eye Chakra, is the level of elevation where the three main nadis, Ida, Pingala and Sushumna, meet at a point after the beginning of the Root Chakra. In the physical body, its position is in the middle of the forehead, between the eyebrows.
In the symbol of the Ajna chakra there are only two petals around the circumference of a large circle. These two petals represent Ida and Pingala Nadi, meeting Sushumna in the middle. Ida and Pingala Nadi are nothing but pineal glands and pituitary glands in the physical body.
Up to the throat chakra, Ida and Pingala Nadi flow and rule the left and right sides of the body. When it meets in the back of the head at the third eye chakra, Ida controls the right hemisphere and Pingala controls the left hemisphere of the brain.
7. Sahasrara Chakra
Sahasrara Chakra is presented on the crown of the head. It is said that all nadis, including Kundalini, are united with Lord Siva in this chakra that gives a yogi supreme bliss. Kundalini enters Sushumna Nadi in Brahmadwara (the door of Brahma) at the base of the spine and comes out in front of the crown chakra in Brahmarandhra (Hole of Brahma).
This chakra is represented by a thousand lotus flowers showing 1000 nadis coming and going at the crown of the head. On 1000 petals of the Sahasrara chakra, all 50 Sanskrit syllables were repeated over and over again. These 50 syllables are total letters in the Sanskrit language and are written on the petals of the lower 6 chakras (4 + 6 + 10 + 12 + 16 + 2). It shows that nadis at the crown chakra consist of all the properties that can be obtained when opening a chakra.
Chakras are powerful centers in our subtle body. Every "change" that we observe in our physical body always has a "cause" that lies in our chakra system. It's like a cause and effect relationship. The effect is observed in the gross body while the cause is usually manifested in the subtle body.
In order for the chakra to function harmoniously, you can work on nadis. To purify and work on nadis, pranayama is like physical movement that controls the flow of prana within.