We have written much on all aspects of ida and pingala in the topic entitled “The Balance of Life’. Here we want to describe simple yet effective techniques for balancing ida and pingala in pranayama and before meditational practices. These techniques are important, for when there is balance of ida and pingala, then one will gain the most out of the yogic practices.
Many people think that in meditational practices one only needs to sit and close the eves, and one will be instantly transported to the realms of bliss. But this is most unlikely. Mere closing of the eyes, even in padmasana, will probably at the most lead to a little peace, a psychic movie show, but more likely a deep sleep. There should be balance between the ida and pingala before starting meditational practices.
Sushumna, ida, pingala and meditation
Why is this balance of ida and pingala so important in relation to meditational techniques? The answer is simple: so that one’s being functions on the path of sushumna.
Ida and pingala both indicate the realm of time. That is, they represent the inner psychic realms and the outer world respectively, both of which are under the sway of time. Meditation is concerned with the timeless and therefore the ida and pingala should be balanced. In this way, the kundalini is able to flow up the sushumna and one enters the realm of timelessness. In the scriptures it is said that the kundalini is the devourer of time: “One should control the sun (pingala) and moon (ida) because these are the day and night of time; the secret is that the sushumna (the passage of the kundalini) is the eater of time.” (Hatha Yoga Pradipika 4:17) That is, when the ida and pingala are balanced in all senses, then time is dissolved.
Meditational practices are concerned with resolving dualities. Balance of the ida and pingala implies a degree of resolution of duality; in fact balance of the ida and pingala throughout the entire spectrum of the chakras implies total non-duality, which is the aim of spiritual aspiration. Balance of the ida and pingala, by reducing the feeling of duality, leads to the opening up of the susbumna which is the direct line to sahasrara. Though very basic and simple, the techniques that we will shortly explain help to break down all differences between the inner and outer, bad and good, etc. This is the sushumna path that is necessary for success in meditational practices. This is clearly stated in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika: “One should think neither of the outside world nor the internal world; in fact one should not think any thoughts.” (4:57)
This thoughtlessness can only arise when the ida and pingala are balanced. This is why ida and pingala are so relevant to meditational practices. This fact has been illustrated beautifully in the following story: “There were two birds, one black and one white. They were tied to a peg with two ropes. They constantly tried to fly away to freedom but were unable to do so because of the rope that secured them. Ultimately they became tired and slept peacefully near the peg.”
These two birds represent the ida and pingala; they correspond to the flow of breath in the left and right nostril respectively. The alternate functioning of the ida and pingala prevents one moving into higher awareness. So long as they operate there will be no success in yogic practices. It is only when the two birds (ida and pingala) are tired and they retire to the centre that sushumna awakens and meditation arises.