By Myra Lewin
I used to race cars, and fix them too. When I was about 14, back in east Tennessee, you could often find me at the garage, hanging with the mechanics, or riding the rolling hills. At that time, being behind the wheel or under the hood felt like freedom to me. I loved being a part of the action - hugging the curves of the road, leading the pack. I was small, young, plenty reckless, and clearly pretty in touch with my masculine energy.
When I got older, I counted on my masculine qualities in the corporate world too. I was both driven and decisive. I liked to finish my projects way ahead of deadlines (what can I say- I liked to race). I pushed too hard, and too fast.
I definitely felt like I had something to prove.
I was overusing my masculine energy and it didn’t get me to where I thought I wanted to go. In fact, it made me sick. If you’ve been following the blog for a while, you’ll know that I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at age 30. That condition was deemed incurable by the doctors, and so I had to look for solutions elsewhere. I had to change what I was doing in order to find balance. And so I was led to Yoga and Ayurveda.
Through these practices I connected more with my feminine qualities - like flexibility, patience and compassion - which made me realize just how important it is to find a balanced way to approach life. I discovered that the key to balance is actually to understand the subtle energy body - the part of us that conducts our prana, or life force.
So let’s dive into that a little bit: the energy body is made up of subtle channels called nadis which form the chakras. According to Yogic texts, there are 72,000 of these pathways, the most significant of which are the sushumna, ida and pingala.
The sushumna is the main nadi, which runs from the muladhara, or root chakra, at the base of the spine through the sahasra, or crown chakra. The ida and pingala nadis spiral in a double helix pattern around the sushumna, and all three channels meet between the eyes at the ajna chakra. Together, these three nadis determine the quality of the body’s energetic system, and conduct the divine feminine and divine masculine energies.
The pingala nadi governs the masculine, right side of the body and enlivens the left, logical side of the brain. Pingala energy is considered solar, and within the body, pingala feels warm and stimulating. Pingala engages the outer world. It’s the fuel of the intellect and what drives accomplishment.
The ida nadi is the other half of the equation. It is the feminine principle at work in the body-mind. It activates the intuitive right brain and the left side of the body. Lunar ida flows inward and nourishes with cooling energy. Ida enables clairvoyance, compassion and connectivity.
If you imagine ida and pingala spiralling up the spine, you can get a sense of appreciation for the eternal dance of intuition and rationality. You can understand the creative intelligence that’s built into your being. Harmonious accord in these energies is an incredible resource: when capacity for reason is coupled with a deep trust in the natural flow of life, any problem can be solved.
However, factors like social conditioning, dosha imbalance, and weak agni can create an over-reliance on one kind of energy. When one nadi is consistently more dominant, the imbalance in the energy body will show up in the physical body.
For a while there I was moving too fast to heed to the signals my body was giving me, and I ended up with a pretty serious illness. But the experience motivated me to stop and re-evaluate what I was doing. I stopped spending all of my time trying to manipulate the circumstances in my outer world, and instead focused on the inner space. Little by little, I peeled back the layers of my being and I found within myself a deep knowingness - a kind of sweet simplicity. I connected with my divine feminine.
So I encourage you to do the same. Take some quiet time every day to let it all be. Sit quietly and go inside. Take note of areas of tightness and soreness - they’re clues as to how you’re allowing your energy to flow. If you go about your days emphasizing your masculine qualities - like logic and assertiveness - then pay special attention to the left side of your body. Does it feel hot or cool? Light or heavy?
If you find areas of discomfort, don’t worry. Yoga and Ayurveda offer plenty of practical tools to release blockages and optimize the flow of prana through the body. Stay tuned for the next blog where I’ll highlight a wonderful pranayama that is designed balance the body-mind by clearing away impurities in ida and pingala. Soon I’ll also be offering up a free intuitive energy meditation to get you started on working with your divine masculine and feminine energy.
Remember - you are so much more than you think you are. Go inside and find out for yourself.
From January 6 - 16, journey with me to India for Restoring Sacred Balance, a soul-inspired Yoga and Ayurveda immersion.