Our chakras are interconnected by a complex network of minute astral tubes called nadis, through which our prana flows. As we continue to remain ignorant of our true nature over many lifetimes, these nadis become increasingly clogged with impurities which prevent the flow of prana and cause us to lose almost all access to our higher chakras. The impurities which block these nadis consist of energy forms which we our self have created with our own will. Self-limiting thoughts and motives constitute the bulk of such energy forms, but there are others as well. For example, so close is the relationship between our subtle and physical bodies that virtually anything that affects one automatically affects the other; thus, physical impurities such as body toxins caused by unhealthful diet, drugs, tobacco, alcohol, nervous tension, etc., cause corresponding obstructions in the subtle body as well.
Since the Kundalini must move upward through these nadis after activation, it is essential that all impurities be removed in order to permit her unobstructed ascent. Should the Kundalini become fully awakened before these impurities are removed, the effect upon our organism could be cataclysmic—like trying to run a million watts of electricity through a one-hundred-watt light bulb. For this reason various precise disciplines have been devised in order to purify our instrument adequately and then to awaken Kundalini from its dormant state by degrees, thus preventing a possibly dangerous overload of our psychic circuitry.
How do you Purify the Nadis?
The only way these subtle impurities can be removed from the nadis is through combustion; they must be burned away by what is called tapas. Most people accomplish this combustion by taking advantage of the close relationship that exists between the subtle and physical bodies. By the use of certain difficult techniques designed to produce heat in the physical body, a corresponding heat occurs in the subtle body, thus burning away the impurities in the nadis. These techniques rely upon extensive individual effort, and include such practices as the increased oxygenation of the blood through rapid breathing, intensified digestive fire induced by special diet or fasting, generation of muscular heat through physical exercises, etc.
In a few Yogas, however, a much easier course is elected. By far the hottest and most effective fire in the human body is the Kundalini–Shakti herself, and if she can be awakened very gently and kept active at a level perfectly suited to the capacity of our particular instrument, she herself will systematically consume the impurities which stand between her and her cosmic mate, Shiva. In these special Yogas, all difficult techniques are bypassed in favor of giving the Shakti primary responsibility for the job of housecleaning inside us. Such a path is Siddha Yoga.
The 3 Main Energy Channels
Of the more than 72,000 nadis in our subtle body, three are important to our spiritual evolution. Their names are Ida, Pingala and Sushumna, and they are the nadis which link the main chakras to one another. Ida and pingala spiral around the spine, intersecting at each of the six main chakras but not extending all the way up to Shiva’s abode, the sahasrara. Sushumna is the only channel to the sahasrara, and it is like a superhighway running right up the center of our spinal cord from the lowest chakra all the way to the top.
The Ida and Pingula aspects of prana are roughly equivalent to the negative and positive poles of electricity, or the yin and yang of Chinese philosophy. Everything that goes on inside us is a product of the counteraction of these two forces.
Alternate nostril breathing balances the praṇā vāyu that flows within the body. Though there are many techniques designed to stabilize and merge the pranas, the safest course is the one which lets the Shakti do it for us.
Ida carries the lunar prana, which controls those inner processes that are cooling and passive.
Ida relates to the right side of the brain, and the left side of the body, terminating at the left nostril.
Pingala carries the solar prana, which controls those inner processes that are warming and active.
Pingala relates to the left side of the brain and the right side of the body, terminating at the right nostril.
Only when the solar and lunar pranas become perfectly stabilized and united can the Shakti move into the sushumna, the actual pathway to Liberation, and eventually reach the sahasrara.