Nadi Theory and Concepts

Published: Aug 7, 2023 | Revised: Jan 19, 2024
Written by: Marce Ferreira

Nadi Theory and Concepts

In Indian Yoga philosophy, it’s believed that the Nadi Energy Channels contain and carry Prana (Vital Life Energy), distributing it across the entire body.

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Prana then, is thought to be absorbed by the air we breathe in, through the digestion of food, by the skin through sunlight, and by barefoot contact with the Earth.

It’s believed that an unobstructed supply and balanced distribution of Prana through the body is of key importance to a person’s overall health and wellbeing on the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual level.

By contrast, the latter also means that a blockage or obstruction in the flow of Prana in the body causes discomforts, diseases, or illnesses to a person.

Yoga Nadi philosophy (theory, concepts, or doctrine) claims the following as its main principles:

  • The Yoga Nadis are not blood vessels, lymph canals, nerves, tendons, or ligaments, although those may also be called Nadis, but not within the Yoga practice;
  • The word Nadi in Yoga is interpreted as Prana Life Energy Pathway or Prana Life Force Channel;
  • Prana Life Energy is also referred to as Wind (Prana Vayu) or Subtle Breath;
  • Nadis form a fine-grained network penetrating the entire body, effectively reaching every single cell;
  • The Nadis start their trajectories (pathways) under the abdominal surface near, around, or further below the navel, an area commonly called the Kanda (or Kandasthana), although some ancient sources claim that the Nadis start their pathways “in the heart”;
  • The principal fourteen Nadis end at the openings, endings, or extremities of the body (called gates or doorways);
  • There are at least 72,000 Nadis in total, and fourteen of those are the principal Nadis. From these fourteen main Nadis, the three Nadis — Sushumna Nadi, Ida Nadi, and Pingala Nadi — have prominence over the rest;
  • Sushumna Nadi, which is thought to be located along, attached to, or in the spinal column, is considered the most important of all Nadis, while also passing through the seven main Chakras;
  • Sushumna Nadi is the central Nadi through which Prana is distributed to all the other Nadis, while also being cardinal for the rise of Kundalini Energy along the Chakras, resulting in health, optimal function of body and mind, and finally Spiritual Enlightenment;
  • The Nadis are material but invisible, and made up of highly subtle matter; they can neither be seen with the eye nor with help of microscopic equipment;
  • A Nadi can get impure, blocked or “broken,” and if so, Prana Life Energy or Wind can get obstructed or leak, and may cause illness;
  • Nadis can be “purified,” “opened,” or “unblocked” with Yogic exercises such as Pranayamas and Asanas, thereby promoting the free flow of Prana Life Force through the body;
  • Life Energy or Wind transforms into different types of energies in the body;
  • Some Nadis overlap and combine (parts of their functionality) or support each other. It’s also said that a Prana trajectory can have more than one type of Wind;
  • The Nadis have an infinite number of acupressure point locations — called Marma Points — along their trajectories which influence the flow of Life Energy. A variety of well-defined Marma Points have special therapeutic functionality.

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