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Energy Boost: Balancing the Ida & Pingala Nadis

Last month I wrote about one good reason to roll out of savasana by rolling to your left (high blood pressure, as stated in Anatomy of Hatha Yoga), but there are good reasons for coming out the more traditional way too.

In my own practice, I use the energetic ida and pingala energy lines to guide my exit from the pose and, more universally, to bring balance and integration into other elements of my day and life.

Ida nadi ends at the left nostril and is the lunar, cooling, feminine, yin, introspective energy channel. Pingala nadi ends at the tip of the right nostril and is the solar, masculine, heating, active yang element of the two twinned channels. These channels are said to criss-cross up from the base of the spine intersecting at each chakra.

Knowing about the ida and pingala nadis and their energetic effects, we can consciously harness the energy to bring a deeper state of balance and wholeness into our on- and off-the-mat experience. Throughout each day and night, our breath naturally cycles between dominance of one of the two energy channels. States of imbalance occur when one side or the other is chronically more restricted or closed than the other. This is why anuloma viloma, alternate nostril breath, is my all-time favorite pranayama. It naturally balances these two nadis and is said to bring more interaction between the two hemispheres of the brain.

You can check out which nadi is dominant at any given moment by feeling for which nostril is naturally more open. In moments of stress or high tension, calm yourself by coaxing lunar, cooling energy from the ida nadi. If you’re feeling sleepy during a long drive, or entering a meeting where you need to be firm and convincing, invite more breath, more awareness into the solar pingala nadi.

If you’ve ever had a sinus infection or congestion from allergies, this next part will make intuitive and experiential sense. Spending between three to five minutes in a fetal position on your right side naturally awakens the ida (left) nadi. Lying on your left side for a few minutes, you will naturally open the right side pingala nadi. (If you have trouble remembering how this works, envision gravity draining whatever blockages exist from the upper nostril down to the lower one, leaving the upper one more open and unobstructed.

Even something as seemingly insignificant as rolling out of savasana is an opportunity to create awareness and intentionality in your life and practice. Ask yourself: in this moment, what would bring me into greater harmony within myself and my environment? What kind of energy do I want to invoke in my day? These questions then linger in our consciousness, inviting more opportunities for evolution and growth off the mat.

The next time you find yourself in savasana, wiggling your fingers and toes, about to turn to one side or the other, luxuriate in the juicy potential of all that this next choice implies.

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