Ida and Pingala are the two important nadis out of a total of about 72000 such energy channels present in human body, as is given in the yogic texts. The Ida and Pingala nadi lie to the left and the right of the spine and these connect Muldhara Chakra with the Ajna Chakra between the eyebrows. Ida ends at the base of left nostril and Pingala ends at the base of right nostril.
The article is a basic introduction to Ida and Pingala energy ‘nadis’ channels and I have not touched the topic of Sushumna ‘The Central Nadi’, in this article.
Nasal Cycle and Its Importance
At any given time, one of these two nadis is predominantly active and much of airflow happens through one of the nadis. There is a reversal of the role of these nadis after every 60 to 90 minutes. This is known as Nasal cycle. This cycle is important because the change in breathing cycle ensures that the nostril does not dry and crack and sufficient moisture levels are maintained by it. The nasal cycle is regulated by an erectile tissue which also helps in differentiating different types of smells.
Characteristics of Ida and Pingala
The energies which flow in Ida and Pingala are of different nature. Ida and Pingala have energies of opposite nature.
Taking Moon and Sun as representative examples to understand the difference in natures of these two energies, Ida is Moon like and Pingala is Sun like. Ida energy flow is cool in nature whereas that of Pingala is warm. Based on this basic difference, Ida or Pingala would be dominantly active while doing any daily task.
While the nasal cycle repeats on its own naturally under normal circumstance, this cycle may be disrupted and one nostril can remain predominantly active for a much longer period of time. Yoga science believes this to be an indication of some body-mind health issue which can manifest later.
Problems associated with the overactive Ida Nadi
An overactive Ida nadi means that the left nostril, which is directly connected to Ida, is being used dominantly for a longer period of time than the right one. Since it is representative of nature of Moon (cool, reflective), its over-activity makes these characteristics even more pronounced. So, it results in more than optimal level of coolness in the body.
This results in underperformance of the thyroid gland. This condition is called hypothyroidism. It results in lowering of the metabolic activity. Lower metabolism means that the digestion is not being done properly and there is not enough energy for the body. So, the person always remains sluggish or lethargic.
It also results in increase in gas and flatulence in the body. The blood sugar levels of the body can also increase making the person susceptible to diabetes. Another direct impact of low metabolism is improper expulsion of excreta which further increased risk of other ailments.
At the mental level, Ida is connected to right side of the brain which is the centre of creativity, intuition and visualisation. The person having Ida imbalances can show signs of depression as there is a tendency to become more introvert. This imbalance can dilute assertiveness of a person and brings in more passivity in behaviour.
Problems associated with the overactive Pingala Nadi
If Pingala nadi resembles the Sun in its nature and it is connected to the left side of the brain which is the centre of movement, communication, reproduction and logical thinking. It is connected to the right nostril and its over-activity is manifested in the dominant flow of energies through the right nostril.
When the Pingala nadi is overactive, it leads to generation of excessive heat in body which can even take form of fever. Too much of energy can lead to increase in metabolism due to condition of hyperthyroidism. This, in turn, can lead to excessive food intake as there is frequent craving for eating something. This can also result in acidity and peptic ulcers.
Pingala overactivity also leads to dryness in skin with itching sensation and dryness of throat. Also, there is generation of excessive sexual energy. Inflammation issues such as bronchitis and arthritis can also arise. When the overall condition of the body is of excessive warmth being created, there will be imbalances in body fluids, so pH will be affected. This can have effect on kidney and liver functioning.
At a mental level, it results in excessive effect on logical, left side of the brain. Since there is less tendency of mind to calm down, there are chances of increasing stress levels. Increase in stress means increase in blood pressure levels and associated problems.
The Balancing Act- Pranayama Way
Since overactivity on part of either Ida or Pingala nadis comes with its own set of problems, you are best advised to perform specific pranayama for correcting these imbalances. The Chandra Bhedi Pranayama is used in cases of overactive Ida and Surya Bheda Pranayama for overactive Pingala. Practicing it daily, under the guidance of an expert/yoga guru, for some months can rid you of several problems that can arise due to prolonged dominance of nadis.
Anuloma Viloma is another important pranayama that is a must for keeping the Ida and Pingala balanced. Easy to practice and if done as a daily habit, this pranayama can help in balancing the prana imbalance. Needless to say, always take the guidance of a a yoga guru for practicing Anuloma Viloma.
Writer’s note: I have tried to keep the information basic as I firmly believe one needs expert guidance to understand the depth of these yogic practices. Please consult a yoga guru near you.