Definition - What does Sushumna mean?
- Sushumna is the name given to the main energy channel of the subtle body, or sushumna nadi. According to yoga and Ayurveda, vital life force energy known as prana travels along energy pathways called nadis.
While there are said to be 72,000 of these channels within the subtle body (pranamaya kosha), there are only three primary nadis; ida, pingala and sushumna, corresponding with the left, right and central line of the body respectively.
The sushumna is the most important nadi, running down the central axis of the body through the spinal cord. Individuals may only experience a pure and equanimous state of mind when prana flows freely through the sushumna.
When impurities or blockages exist in the other nadis of the body, prana is not able to flow freely through the sushumna, leading to mental and physical imbalances.
Yogapedia explains Sushumna
Nadis converge at various energetic vortices known as chakras. Practices such as breath control (pranayama), energetic locks (bandhas) and seals (mudras) can be used as a means of moving, locking and sealing prana to restore balance in body and mind.
The sushumna nadi connects the first muladhara chakra to the seventh sahasrara chakra, and is the path for the ascent of kundalini energy up from the base of the spine to the crown of the head. It is considered the central channel for the flow of prana throughout the body. Iit unites all other chakras in the body.
On either side of the sushumna nadi, are two other nadis:
- Ida: on the left, carries feminine, lunar energy.
- Pingala: on the right, carries masculine, solar energy.
These two nadis both originate from the muladhara chakra and criss-cross over the spine, meeting in the center of the sushumna nadi. Within the sushumna nadi there are said to be three more subtle channels: vajra, chitrini and brahma nadi, through which kundalini energy travels.
Yoga practices help to enhance awareness of the flow of prana, enabling practitioners to develop a sense of where energetic blockages occur within the subtle body. As such, yoga can help individuals to distribute energy evenly throughout the chakras, encouraging a free flow of prana.
In particular, chakra meditations can be used to stimulate sushumna from its resting state, encouraging kundalini energy to rise and spiritual awakening to occur. As prana travels up the sushumna nadi, it energizes all of the chakras along the way and stimulates dormant energy. Similarly, nadi shodhana pranayama can help to balance the ida and pingala nadis as a means of opening and stimulating sushumna.
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