The ida and pingala principles also apply at the pranic and mental levels of being. They represent the two distinct forces within the human environment. In a sense, they represent the positive and negative aspects - the ebb and flow of human existence. They do not represent two specific psychic passages as is often understood, but rather the total pranic and mental currents. Ida represents the mind and pingala represents the pranic body.
The Chinese, thousands of years ago, developed the concept of yin and yang. These two principles correspond exactly to the ida and pingala principles. The Chinese also developed the healing system of acupuncture based on the flow of prana within the body. Modern researchers in Russia have photographed these pranic flows, calling the energy bioplasma. This energy is also used in the science of psychic healing (sometimes called spiritual healing). In all these cases it is the pingala aspect of man's psychic being that is being utilized . . . that is prana.
The mind corresponds to the ida aspect of man's psychic realm. It is within this ida aspect that man can develop the so-called supernatural powers such as clairaudience, clairvoyance, telepathy, etc. These powers are merely a part of the vast potential that lies within the grasp of each human being. The negative repercussions of prematurely unfolding and utilizing these powers for selfish ends will be discussed later.
It should be remembered that the mental and pranic forces in man, the ida and the pingala on a psychic level, are inextricably interrelated. The mind has direct repercussions and influence on prana and vice versa. It is only for convenience of explanation that this division is made; don't take it too literally or seriously. This also applies at other levels. Try to regard all aspects of man, physical, pranic and mental, as being inseparably joined and fused to form a whole unit. Try not to become caught in the net of misconceptions by considering that these aspects are watertight, independent departments.
The pingala is associated with action, while the ida is associated with thought. This tendency towards a predominance of thought or action is related to the predominant flow of breath in the left or right nostril, in the same manner that the sympathetic and parasym-pathetic nervous systems are intimately related to the same flows.
In the duration of the twenty-four hour day, there should be an overall balance between the two flows of ida and pingala. That is, the flow through the ida should predominate for about twelve hours, and the pingala also for about twelve hours. Remember, this does not mean that one flow will predominate for a single stretch of twelve hours, but that the total time is twelve hours, composed of smaller durations. If these intervals are equal, then it means that there is a balance between thought and action, between extroversion and introversion5.
During daylight hours, the pingala generally predominates. This certainly applies to people who have to use a lot of physical exertion in their occupation; but it also applies to people who do a lot of mental work, for thought has to be translated into external action. Of course, ida will also flow, but it will tend to be subordinate to the pingala flow. Work generally implies dealing with other people and outside events; pingala will therefore tend to predominate during the daytime.
In order to maintain balance of the ida and the pingala, ida will tend to predominate during sleep at night, which counteracts the predominant pingala flow during the daytime.
It is also worthwhile pointing out one reason why people who practise yoga tend to need less sleep. Whereas the average person is totally absorbed in his or her work, the sincere yoga practitioner tends to do everything with a greater sense of detachment; that is, he maintains an attitude of introversion even during strenuous work, maintaining a greater balance between introversion and extroversion throughout the day. This implies greater balance between ida and pingala. Other people need more sleep to compensate for the greater flow of pingala during the daytime. Of course, even great yogis tend to need some sleep because there is always some imbalance. In addition, there are many other factors (moon, sun, climate, etc.) which affect the ida and pingala flows.
If one is excessively worried about work (or any other external preoccupations), and if one is pushing the body beyond its limits, then pingala will tend to predominantly flow day and night. If this imbalance continues over a long period of time then the entire physical and pranic body will become disharmonized.
The result will be illness. This is the situation of large numbers of people in the modern competitive world; they are too active and tense. This is one of the reasons for the prevalence of diseases such as cancer.
On the other hand, a person who broods a great deal, who continually dwells on his problems and who does little work or has little outside interests will have a predominance of ida. He also will suffer eventually, whether from lack of physical exercise, or mental problems such as neurosis.
Thus balance between the ida and pingala is essential. There must be equilibrium between introversion and extroversion. When this is not the case, the human system eventually takes steps to compensate this imbalance. This is manifested in illness, fatigue, depression or whatever. This is a natural law; if you break this law of the body then you must pay the penalty. If you feel tired, then rest; if you feel active then work or play hard. Try to follow the natural rhythm of your body and mind. It is when the body is pushed too hard, because of ambition, fears, desires or whatever, that imbalance occurs. Listen to your body and mind and follow its laws. This is not easy, but through the practise of yoga it becomes progressively easier.
There are a large number of factors which influence the physical, pranic and mental aspects of man, both in the internal and external environment. Any generality that is made about these factors has a tendency to be inadequate. To attribute the predominance of the ida flow or the pingala flow to any one specific cause is also totally inadequate. One has to understand the totality of a situation to obtain a true picture. This requires a high level of intuitive understanding and is the reason why so few people follow the path of swara yoga. We have given no specific details on the factors that determine the dominance of flow in the ida and pingala; we wish merely to indicate the general principles involved and their basic meaning and implications.
Was this article helpful?