From the 72,000 nadis that make up the psychic body, there are three significant nadis on which yogis and yoginis predominantly focus. All the chakras in the chakra system are connected through these three nadis — ida, pingala and shushumna — however, even ida and pingala are considered to be subordinate to shushumna.
The word ‘nadi’ literally means 'flow' or 'current'. Nadis are often thought of as nerves — to be more precise, the yoga adepts tell us that nadis are composed of astral matter. While they do have a corresponding relationship with various physiological nerve pathways, nadis are not considered to be part of the physical body, and, like the chakras, are subtle in nature. As well, the corresponding internal physiological organs situated in the region of each chakra are energetically connected via the nadi system. For example, anahata chakra is connected to the cardiovascular system; vishuddhi chakra is connected with the ears, nose and throat, etc.
When energetic awakening occurs within a yoga aspirant, it has three contexts:
- firstly, awakening of the chakras must transpire;
- secondly, awakening of shushumna, the central nadi (visualised within the centre of the spinal column);
- thirdly, only after these two activations occur, can awakening of kundalini (defined by yoga adepts as the latent, primordial, creative life force in sentient beings) successfully take place.
In this context, shushumna is the transmitting channel/nadi and the chakras are the energy junctures from which the awakened energy is distributed to different organs, etc. If there are energy blockages or closures in shushumna, or in any of the chakras, when kundalini awakens, the great force of this vital energy will be impeded.
Therefore, in the quest to awaken the kundalini energy, the first process is to awaken the chakras through specific practices, such as the kriya yoga system. Secondly, the activation of shushumna must take place. The awakening of the chakras may be accompanied by visions and strong inner experiences, however, these do not equate to the awakening of kundalini, or even the awakening of shushumna. On the contrary; when shushumna activates, there is often a very specific feeling of a rod, or a bolt of light, which progresses in time to move upward within this nadi, fully illuminating it from within. And yet, even this is not to be confused with kundalini awakening.
The system of kriya yoga has been specifically designed to activate the chakra and nadi systems, thereby facilitating the awakening of kundalini. These practices should only be undertaken by relatively experienced yogis and yoginis, and only under guidance from an accomplished kriya adept. The practices are not innately harmful in any way - indeed, kundalini is often referred to as the benevolent Great Mother Shakti - however, travelling into powerful inner realms is best carried out with a guide who has experience and mastery of this mystical terrain.
The Introduction to Kriya courses offered by Ashram Yoga assist aspirants to prepare for the yearly Kriya Yoga Retreat held at Ohui. This preparatory groundwork is achieved by revising knowledge and practices relating to the chakras and nadis, and by strengthening the physical and psychic aspects of the self, in preparation for the kriyas.