The Chakras are energy centres that control the flow of energy throughout the physical body via the Nadis.
The Nadies are a similar concept to neurons, whereas neurons carry chemical messages from the brain to the various parts of the body, the Nadis carry energy throughout the body.
There are a total of 72,000 nadis within the body, however, the most important Nadis are Ida, Pingala and Shushumna. Shushumna (or Brahman Nadi as it is sometimes called) is related to the central nervous system and passes through the spinal column.
Ida and Pingala nadis are related to the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems and cross the spinal column, joining with Shushumna at each of the chakra points.
Bringing Ida and Pingala into equilibrium is a major focus of hatha yoga – the term hatha symbolizes balance. The word hatha literally means ‘forceful’ in Sanskrit, it is composed of ha and tha, two esoteric bija (seed) mantras that have deep meaning and power.
Ha represents the solar qualities, the vital force of Pingala; Tha represents the mind and the lunar qualities of Ida.
Balancing sun and moon, or Pingala and Ida, facilities the awakening and arising of kundalini, and thus the awakening of higher consciousness. In fact, some yoga teachings hold that as long as either Ida or Pingala predominates, Sushumna stays closed and the power of kundalini lies dormant.
The most powerful method of balancing Ida and Pingala Nadis is Nadi Shodhana pranayama, alternate nostril breathing. (Literally, the Sanskrit means ‘nadi cleansing’). This practise is effective because the Ida Nadi is directly connected to the left nostril and the Pingala Nadi to the right nostril. A few rounds of this basic pranayama technique at the end of the practise is an excellent way to help restore equilibrium between the two nadis (the two hemispheres of the brain).