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Balance in Yoga – The Importance of Ida and Pingala
The idea of balance is very important in yoga.
Out of the 72,000 nadis in the human body, there are two very important energy channels or nadis that exist in every human being. Both these vital pulses flow symmetrically. One is known as Ida and the other as Pingala. Ida represents the creative, feminine qualities in you and Pingala represents the energetic, masculine qualities in you. Balancing the body by using balanced asanas brings balance between Ida and Pingala and hence balance is achieved not only physically but also within us on an energetic level. Between Ida and Pingala is the Sushumna Nadi which is parallel to and slightly in front of the spine.
The Ida Nadi starts and ends on the left side of the Sushumna Nadi. Ida represents the lunar energy within us, the energy within us is related to the moon. It is a cooling energy and is uplifting in nature. The color white is sometimes used in yogic teachings to represent the subtle vibrational qualities of ida. Ida is also active on the right side of the brain. Pingala represents the solar energy within us, the energy associated with the sun. It begins and ends on the right side of the Sushumna Nadi. It is warm and stimulating in nature. Pingala is responsible for all important somatic processes in our body. Pingala’s subtle vibrational qualities are sometimes represented by the color red in yoga teachings. Pingala is active on the left side of the brain.
The interaction between Ida and Pingala relates to intuition and rationality, consciousness and vital force, and the play between the right and left hemispheres of the brain that takes place within us. One of these pulses is always dominant in daily life. Although this dominance varies during the day, one pulse is usually more dominant. It brings about personality, behavior and health factors that can be described as Ida-like or Pingala-like. Achieving a balance between Ida and Pingala is one of the goals of yoga practice.
The idea of balance in yoga can be seen when yoga is described as Hatha. ‘Ha’ relates to Surya or the Solar Principle of Pingala and ‘Th’ relates to the Chandra or Lunar Principle. So in Hatha Yoga, the goal of our practice is the balance between the solar and lunar energies within us.
Many yogic teachings say that balancing the sun and moon or pingala and ida awakens the kundalini and thus awakens the higher consciousness experienced in sahasrara, the seventh chakra. In fact, some yoga teachings say that as long as Ida or Pingala is dominant, the Sushumna Nadi remains dormant or asleep and the Kundalini force cannot be awakened and thus you cannot experience Sahasrara.
If we look at these definitions in terms of science, we will notice that the left and right hemispheres of the brain are responsible for different functions. The left hemisphere of the brain controls the functions of the right side of the body and is also responsible for scientific thinking. The right side of the brain is responsible for creativity as well as the functions of the right side of the body. In yoga we seek balance between left and right, and so the balance between the left and right sides of the brain and the right and left sides of the body all contribute.
The balance between Ida and Pingala is found in the Ajna Chakra which is represented as a lotus flower with two petals in the center of the forehead. One petal is represented by the energy channel of Ida and the other petal is represented by the energy channel of Pingala.
Further, Yogasiddhanta states that there is a relationship between the mind and the body so when there is balance in the mind – between Ida and Pingala – between the left and right hemispheres – then there is balance in the body. So it is important to work on the balance of the mind to develop balance in the body. This can be achieved by using meditation (dhyana) or breath control techniques (pranayama).
However, the opposite is also true – when the body is in balance, the mind can be balanced. So working on balancing physical postures also helps balance the mind – especially when we focus on the breath, just as we focus on the breath we are also focusing on the prana or life force within us.
Important balance positions in yoga practice include standing postures such as:
Garudasana (Eagle Pose)
Vrikshasana (Tree Pose)
Natarajasana (dancer’s pose)
Utkatasana (Fierce Pose)
Arm balancing poses include:
Bakasana (Crane Pose)
Mayurasana (Peacock Pose)
Tolasana (weighing pose)
Pinchmayurasana (Peacock Pose with Wings)
Bhujapidasana (hand press pose)
In all balancing poses you should focus your attention on your core muscles as they help stabilize you and also on your Ajna Chakra as your Ajna Chakra is the command center of the body and mind.
So by working on balanced asanas, you are bringing balance not only to the body but also to the mind and your nadis. A balanced life is always a happy life.
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