Acupuncture Meridians & Nadis

Acupuncture meridians are subtle energy pathways in the body. Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has for many centuries studied and worked therapeutically with these energy channels. 

The body’s vital energies (called chi or qi in Traditional Chinese Medicine) flow continuously through these pathways – like blood through our blood vessels – nourishing, maintaining and restoring all the body’s organ systems.

Acupuncture Meridians

There are twelve standard channels, each of which is associated with a human biological function: kidneys, liver, spleen, heart, lungs, pericardium, bladder, gall bladder, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, and triple heater.

There are also two additional acupuncture meridians called the conception vessel and the governing vessel. These fourteen energy pathways, and the chi that flows through them, are critical to life. If the flow of chi is out of balance – either too strong or too weak – the system supported by the channel is disrupted.


Along the acupuncture meridians are some 500 tiny points near the skin surface – acupuncture points, or acupoints, for short – that can be stimulated to balance and restore the flow of energy. Acupuncture stimulates these points this by inserting tiny needles, while acupressure uses hand or finger pressure for the same purpose.


Ayurvedic medicine works with a similar system of subtle energy channels, called nadis. Like the meridians, the nadis are not physical anatomical structures. Lifeforce energy, called prana in Sanskrit, flows through these subtle body channels. The nadis connect to the chakras. Various practices such as yoga aim to strengthen and support the flow of prana through the body and energy system.

There are more than 72,000 nadis, channelling prana to every cell. The most important of them are:

  • Sushumna: Passes through the spinal column, connecting the 1st (root) chakra to the 7th (crown) chakra. Sushumna is the path through which kundalini shakti, and the higher spiritual consciousness it can fuel, rises up from its origin in the first chakra to its true home at the 7th chakra. In yoga and other traditions, the sushumna nadi is thus the path to enlightenment.
  • Ida: Spirals around the Sushumna nadi, beginning and ending on the left of it, crossing with Pingala at each chakra. Carrier of lunar, female energy. Cool and nurturing controls mental processes and the more feminine aspects of our personality. Nourishes and purifies the body and the mind.
  • Pingala: Spirals around the Sushumna nadi, beginning and ending to the right of it, crossing with Ida at each chakra. Warm and stimulating controls vital physical processes oversees the more masculine aspects of our personality. Carrier of solar, male energy, adding vitality, physical strength and efficiency.

Practices such as alternate-nostril breathing are said to help bring Ida and Pingala into a desired state of balance.


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