6 Tips - How to Balance our Male & Female Energy, Ida & Pingala Nadi.
Oct 8, 2018 | RUTH STEEL
Hello lovely Yogis, welcome back to the Blog.
Once again, I'm on a mission to try and come up with creative concepts to open minds about what Yoga is and its limitless potential, beyond the advanced Asana we see on Instagram. Let me tell you, this is no small mission, it is challenging grabbing the audience attention with so much competition out there and there are good reasons why big Yoga brands sponsor incredibly advanced Yogis who can capture the WOW photos and bring them sales in return. Whilst I have no problem with that and LOVE Asana and an exciting Inversion practice as much as the next Yoga addict - my concern however, with this growing community of posture based influencers is, the more aesthetically pleasing able-bodied practitioners we see on social media, the more beginners get the wrong idea of what Yoga actually is and dare I say, get scared off starting a Yoga practice or at the very least, go along with the general public's inaccurate belief that 'Yoga is just for Women' or 'I'm not flexible enough for Yoga'.
Time and time again I hear these statements and it is no surprise why, but if this Blog broadens the perspective of even just one new Yogi, then I'll be very happy indeed!
According to yoga philosophy, the male energy symbolized by the Sun is known as Shiva and the female energy, symbolized by the Moon, is known as Shakti. These complementary channels on either side of the body are known as Nadis, meaning 'a stream', through which Prana (life force or Energy) circulates.
The feminine channel, formally known as Ida Nadi dominates the left side of the body. The masculine channel known as Pingala Nadi dominates the right side of the body. One of the goals of yoga is to bridge the gap between the masculine and feminine and reach the central channel called Shushumna Nadi, that provides us a clear and joyful mind for meditation and fulfilment of one's full potential.
Here's a quick test to see which of your energies is blocked or more dominant in this moment.
One at a time, hold down and close a single nostril and take some natural deep breaths, being aware of the flow from the nostril you are breathing. Repeat the other side, taking your time to notice any difference.
If your left nostril was dominant/freer flowing, it means the right hemisphere of your brain is more active.
If it was the right nostril, that was dominant, then your left brain is more active.
Dependant on which side is more active will depend on how well you fare in certain day to day tasks.
If your right nostril is dominant it’s a good time to do physically challenging activities, when the left nostril is activated it’s a good time to be creative, meditate or reflective.
If you find your nostrils are often blocked or painful, without any apparent cause (i.e. cold or allergies), it could be a sign that your masculine and feminine energy is off-balance or that you are reacting to the ‘shifting energy of the world around you’.
Despite the gender we identify ourselves with, we are actually both—man and woman.
When we fail to acknowledge our immense energetic system, we may feel chronically out of balance. Besides working on our physical and mental health through conscious eating, fitness and a kind mindset, it’s equally important to pay attention to our subtle energy channels if we desire to live a fully healthy life.
I’m sure we can all agree on the fact that we came from a male and a female when we were conceived. Despite certain chromosomes expressing themselves as predominantly one or the other, we come from both in equal measures.
Regardless of gender, each of us contains masculine and feminine energy. Logic, planning, and structure fall under the masculine. Ways of being such as discipline, rigor and control also fall under this category. The masculine is a necessary trait, for it supports the growth of a balanced ego, financial stability, shelter, and organization. Too much day to day living in our masculine energy results in a hardening or stiffness and lack of flow. This can manifest as tight muscles, overactive appetite/physical or sexual energy, holding grudges, and obstructive anger.
The feminine part of ourselves is more subtle in today's somewhat, ego driven society. It is characterised by intuition, receptivity, dreams, and emotion. This is an essential counterbalance to the masculine energy we harness. Overactive feminine energy may feel like being out of control, ungrounded, irritable, and lonely and likely experiencing a sluggish digestive system.
When we operate primarily from our masculine side, we may feel lethargic, stressed, overworked or unloved as a result. When we feel overworked and like we are moving about life on autopilot, too much in our heads and not connected enough in our bodies, or if we are experiencing a lack of intimacy in our lives, it is likely a re-balance of the feminine is required.
My reasons for being passionate about this balance of energy is because I have known the imbalance of both energies channels which directly affected the quality of life as I knew it. For 7 years of my adult life, I was living with feminine heavy energy that in the latter stages, manifested into a hardened masculine energy, I struggled to get out of. I chose to always please the needs of others which got me into sticky situations and trapped in an abusive relationship with my polar opposite, masculine heavy, powerfully dominant energy trait. I was committed and independent, and to me, I was a strong feminine woman, always doing my best to work out when I could and find jobs I enjoyed but all the while I was overly influenced by others who did not have my best interests at heart and even I myself, had no intuition of my actual wants and needs - let alone the confidence in my own voice, to speak them aloud.
Perhaps I was strong or courageous in one sense, putting up with so much shit however I was severely lacking in my ability to receive. I was constantly unhappy, lonely even when surrounded by people and the idea of hardening to fully pursue my ambitions, filled me with terror and if I it did think about finding balance, my logical mind would tell me I was hurting others, was not good enough or selfish to plan and structure my life the way I wanted. That illogical thought pattern, I later realised, was fear - fear of my own ability to truly find myself. I was in self-sabotage mode and drastically ungrounded to say the least.
I remember at one point I felt like through prioritising my emotions, I had become numb to them. No longer sure of what was an acceptable way to be treated by others and with zero boundaries and space to act upon my own feelings and manifestations. My mind was a spiralling blur of repetitious behaviour, lessening tolerance and I was so identified with it that almost nothing could break me out of it. Friends & family who loved and cared for me would express their worry, but I thought I knew best and had the power to change my circumstance alone.
What broke me out of that dizzy nightmare was a bigger trauma to come with the death of my Mother. As though all experiences had been there to prepare me for the tempestuous storm to come. I experienced high levels of anxiety, depression, and insomnia as a result.
Knowing that yoga requires continuity of the sun and moon parts of ourselves, so we can experience our true divine nature, I decided to start learning more about Yoga as a mindset and lifestyle and began bringing about balance to both my energy channels. I didn’t just wake up and become magically at peace; I’ve experienced a great deal of support and inspiration from mentors, friends, life experiences, books and most importantly, my sister and Husband to whom I am eternally grateful.
Here are some of the practices to establish Shiva and Shakti balance:
I've heard many Yoga Gurus say, laughter is the highest form of spirituality. The heart is wide open, the belly is filled with oxygen, and it is a complete cleanse for the energetic system. Laughter softens us and allows us to be more present and therefore able to connect and receive.
Travel takes us out of our routines, out of our minds and opens us up to the unknown. Be spontaneous. Forget those pre-planned tours with a set schedule for each day. Go somewhere you have never been and don’t stay in a hotel. Rent an Air B & B or stay with a local family. Eat new delicious food. Embrace new cultures and go out to make new friends. Trust your intuition as you find yourself in a new surrounding.
3. Own your sensuality.
Could you even describe how you like to be touched? What smells do you adore? What is your favourite food to eat? What sights do you love to behold? What music captivates you? Immerse yourself in all the things that excite your five senses. Give yourself a hug, massage, the gift of sensuality and self-love. Be slow and feel, present in each moment to how your body reacts. Once we know ourselves, it is easier to get to know others.
4. Remain open minded in your relationships.
Being more present in all my relationships has been my greatest teacher - I had to surrender and pretty much destroy my former self in order to be fully receptive of my own needs as well others. Instead of yielding to the mental thought pattern that I am “to please others” by what any relationship requires, with friends, family and partners, I chose to focus on what is important to me, setting valuable boundaries and believing in my self-worthiness to express myself and to say No, when I was doing too much for others and not enough taking care of myself. I have learned more about myself, my habits, my fears, and my desires by being open minded, than I ever did by thinking I was already doing the right thing. We are designed to be connected with other people and thrive when we surround ourselves with those who support us, lift us up and applaud when we do well.
The feminine aspect of relationship comes when two people pay attention to the relationship’s energy instead of rushing to label it and plan the whole future ahead with rigidity. I have learned that from expectation comes disappointment so in the frequency of relationships, slowing down, tuning in and truly listening to what all parties require, is a skill only an understanding of both the masculine and feminine can allow.
5. Get outside among Nature.
Nature is the perfect example of masculine and feminine balance. Just look at a tree. Those roots are deep and are essential otherwise the tree will not be able to stand. The leaves, however, are dancing around. They are contained by the branches which are contained by the roots. All parts are vital and equally imperative.
6. Alternate Nostril Breathing.
Alternate Nostril Breathing, otherwise known as Nadi Shodhana, is an uplifting and calming breathing practice that works in just a few minutes and can be practiced anywhere and everywhere. This practice is my absolute favourite and works directly with the right and left sides of the body and brain to cultivate harmony and mental clarity. It helps us to clear blocked energy streams in the body and bring about balance, returning us to our natural, joyful state of being.
If you missed my other Blog - '5 Breathing exercises for Anxiety & Depression' see below for guidance on how to practice Nadi Sadhana.
Guidance: Sit comfortably with a lengthened spine. (Against a wall or in a chair, if it feels better)
Place your left hand on your lap, relaxed and palm facing up. With your right hand, place your index and middle finger in between the eyebrows, resting gently at the third-eye chakra. Place your ring & pinkie fingers on your left nostril and softly close the nostril. Take a deep slow, unforced Inhale through your right nostril. When the lungs are full, gently switch and release your left nostril, closing off your right nostril with your thumb. Keep the eyes closed if possible and you are not driving! Take a long, slow exhale through your left nostril. When the lungs are empty, keep the hand as it is and take the next deep Inhale through your left nostril. When you reach the top, repeat by switching to exhale out through your right. Inhale again through your right nostril, switch fingers, and exhale through your left. Repeat. Five minutes per day or experiment with longer, if you have time and notice the positive effects in your body & mind.
Both energies, masculine and feminine are vital for preventing illness and optimal health. We must create a firm foundation and relax into our ability to flow and adapt to continuous change. We must learn to be open to opportunities that we may not have pre-planned in our minds and to expect less, for all the future is not guaranteed and very much the unknown.
I hope you found this useful, please leave any questions and comments below.
All my Love,