If you’ve been feeling tired and not quite like yourself, find yourself saying—or typing—something you later regret, or assuming an unrealistic and worst-case scenario about a situation or what others think of you, it may be that you’re dealing with burnout from the last year. Or it could be that your ida nadi (pronounced EE-dhah NAH-dee) is blocked.
The early traditions of Hinduism inform the teachings of yoga and pertain more to the energetic than the physical aspect of the practice. These traditions define “nadis” as the thousands of energy channels in our body that connect the physical body, the subtle body (energetic and psychological body), and the causal body (soul). Think of nadis as pipes through which vital life energy flows.
There are three primary nadis that run from the lower back to the head: ida, pingala, and sushumna. Ida is situated on the left of the spine, pingala on the right, and sushumna in the center. The ida and pingala nadis spiral around the sushumna nadi, resembling a double helix of human DNA. At certain points, they cross each other along the spine, forming the chakras, or energy centers.
When the channels are clear, your energy, awareness, and consciousness can rise to their full potential, and you’re able to feel more at peace, understanding, and in harmony with yourself and your surroundings. Some schools of yoga—including raja, hatha, and Kundalini—are dedicated to spiritual awakening and healing through the nadis, specifically the ida.
What is ida nadi?
Our left side is represented by the moon (chandra) and our feminine characteristics or our yin energy. As such, ida nadi is cooling in nature, nurtures the body as well as our creativity and intuition, and governs our emotions. Breath that you draw in through the left nostril and into the ida nadi affects the right hemisphere of your brain. It also activates your parasympathetic nervous system, which results in a relaxation response.
An unblocked ida nadi allows you to express your emotions, words, thoughts, and actions in a calm and collected manner. It also shows up as a sense of groundedness and confidence, strong self-awareness and consciousness, and an ability to accurately perceive your own and surrounding energies. This equanimity, empathy, and understanding can only flow if there are no blockages preventing ida from being open and activated.
How do I know if my ida nadi is blocked?
The ida nadi, or energy channel, can become blocked through several factors, including stress, physical tension, and unhealthy lifestyle choices. Symptoms are said to include the following (although each can also be due to physical or psychological causes, so always consult your physician if you experience them or any prolonged change in your health):
- Feeling lethargic
- Restlessness when trying to fall asleep
- Feeling unusually emotional or depressive tendencies
- Sluggish digestion
- Inability to correct your unhealthy habits
How do I unblock, open, or activate ida nadi?
The most common approach to clearing a blocked nadi is by connecting to your breath (prana). You can opt for your preferred breathing technique, such as Nadi Shodhana Pranayama, or you can quietly sit and slowly breathe as you would for meditation. You can also engage your breath in conjunction with your imagination:
- Sit comfortably in a chair that has a straight back.
- Place your hands in your lap, palms facing upward.
- Close your eyes and allow yourself to relax.
- Bring your attention to your inhales and exhales and let them be long, deep, and slow. Repeat 20 or more times.
- Visualize a large, bright sphere of glowing energy above your head.
- Visualize the sphere makings its way through each nadi energy channel: ida, pingala, and sushumna.
- Visualize the sphere removing any negative and residual energy and filling it with light.
Prana or energy work, such as Reiki, is sufficient to unblock the energy channels. There’s no need to engage in physical postures (asana), so you can reserve your effort for feeling more like yourself and handling all the demands in your life—but with a little more calm and a lot more energy.