About the Nadis: Why Is Ida Considered Feminine, and Pingala Masculine?


I want to understand about the 3 basic nadis. Ida is said to be feminine and pingala masculine. Does ida have more relation to feminine chakras and pingala with masculine chakras? How? Or what is the true way to connect this yin-yang nature of both nadis with the chakras? And also, what is the effect of pranayama on these nadis?

—Akanksha Bhardwaj, India


Dear Akanksha,

Yes, usually the traditional yoga texts describe ida is as having a lunar (feminine) energy, as its rising energy is experienced as cool. Pingala’s descending energy is experienced as warm, and is therefore taught to be the solar energy (masculine). This is true on a very profound meditative level, when you actually perceive the currents in ida and pingala.

However, on a more day-to-day level it is the other way around: since ida is connected to the inhalation which gives strength and positivity, it is “solar”, while pingala is connected to the exhalation and therefore to relaxation (you relax with an exhalation, not inhalation), which is “lunar”. For this reason Swami Kriyananda in his book The Art and Science of Raja Yoga describes ida as being solar (masculine), and pingala as lunar (feminine). You inhale when you “solar-ly” say “I feel great, strong, positive”, and you exhale when “lunar-ly ”say “now I completely let go, relax, release, receive.”

About the chakras: in our teachings the chakras are not either masculine or feminine. All of them are polarized through the upward and downward flowing currents, expressing both the masculine or feminine quality. This is why Yogananda at times speaks of 12 chakras (sahasrara is excluded here, being beyond), which are represented in the 12 signs of the zodiac. Every chakra has two signs, yin and yang you might say. Swami Kriyananda writes: “The spinal centers are polarized by the upward and downward movement of energy through the ida and pingala nerve channels.”

About your question on pranayama: the main ones all consciously work with the nadis, especially with ida and pingala, with the goal to finally enter into the sushumna. Nadi shodanam does that, as well as chandra bedha, surya bedha, ujjayi. Especially Kriya Yoga pranayama specializes in it. They all intensify the flow of energy in ida and pingala, which magnetizes the sushumna. That’s where the yogi wants to take his or her inner energy.

All the best to your practices,