The science of breath takes us on a deep journey within. To understand and have a full relationship with the breath is to understand how we, as humans, relate to the web of life. Understanding this web is called the Science of Tantra.
In order for us to understand Tantra, it is crucial to understand our energy currents (also called nadis). Tantra yoga, as well as Kundalini yoga and Laya Yoga (the chakra system) are all intertwined in that they are all based on the functions of these three energy channels. It is all related; the mudras, the Gods, the mantras, the chakras.
As we advance in our spiritual practice, we weave all these aspects together creating connection within the much subtler forces within us.
- The three nadis or energy currents are like waves of consciousness going through our body.
- The three nadis play a huge role in the formation of our chakras.
- Left, right and center: Ida, Pingala and Shushumna.
There are millions of energy currents. The Rishis – those who dedicated themselves to discovering and mapping out this inner reality – discovered about 72,000 energy currents..
These 72,000 energy currents can be narrowed down to 14 main ones by a process of elimination, which was then narrowed down to 3.
These 3 main energy currents we refer to in the yoga tradition most often are:
IDA – Left side body and nostril referring to the right side of the brain. The moon. Feminine. Passive.
PINGALA – Right side nostril and body referring to the . Right spine and nostril. The sun. Masculine. Active/dominant.
SHUSHUMNA – Center. The center energy current is clam, tranquil, balanced.
The Ida and Pingala are currents that act like ocean waves within us. These currents intersect, crash, touch, support and influence each other.
Solar and lunar within us us are constantly embracing and uniting each other.
They represent two major aspects of our personality; one is gentle and the other is stern. One is loving and kind and the other never forgiving, disciplinarian.
As mentioned above, the Ida and Pingala greatly influence the interaction between our body and mind, which then influences our behavior. One of the fascinating aspects of these energy currents is that they change every hour and a half.
Typically, most of us breathe dominantly in one nostril. In a healthy person, every 90/100 minutes the nostril dominance changes. Thus, every 90/100 minutes, we will breathe more through one nostril.
If the switch takes longer, this indicates an imbalance. Life strives to be in balance. As we breathe and receive oxygen the very source of life is constantly coming in. When air passes though our right nostril it gets electrically charged by a special energy long before it reaches our lungs, and when it passes through the left nostril it has a different electric charge.
This is evident you can see your own behavior shift throughout the day. At certain times of the day you feel active and want to run 10 miles! Notice that you are right nostril dominant. At other times of the day you feel creative and full of inspiring ideas. Notice you are left nostril dominant.
Before the air gets to us it already has a unique input — either it’s actively charged or passively charged. These active and passive electrical charges, solar or lunar, make a big difference to the function of our sympathetic and parasympathetic system. These charges give a unique message to the heart and the blood. The heart knows which kind of oxygen (active or passively charged) it is receiving and how much lunar and solar influence there is.
The heart instinctively knows it when eletromangnetic waves are sent to the brain.
The brain in response to this electromagnetic message prepares itself to treat this as a source of nourishment. Even before the breath reaches the brain barrier the brain has already given instruction to our sympathetic or paraymptathetic nervous system to clear its dominance over the other and the whole mood changes.
Our moods are very closely related to our sympathetic or para sympathetic responses.
The air we breathe from our right goes into our lungs and at some point is cleaned and then new oxygen is absorbed and go to hearth and heart pumps to there rest of the body and then the brain consume 70% of our whole oxygen.
The right nostril goes to the left brain and the left nostril is connected to the right brain.
The left brain is logical and masculine, calm.
The right brain is more artistic, more feminine, more gentle, more kind, with a greater degree of patientce, less logical and more conncted to the heart.
After that electromagnetic waves tell our brain to get ready. The very subtle process going on deep inside us and that is the science of breath is called Shive Dahor Udaya.
The science of breath, and specifically the role of the ida and pingala nadis is crucial to understanding and supporting our emotional life and spiritual life.
This blog post was inspired by my teacher Pandit Rajmani Tigunait from the Himalayan Institute.
Yogi Aaron, author of “Autobio