Is there actually a reason to start yoga poses on the right side?
Not something I ever questioned until a student actually asked me: “why do we always start yoga poses on the right side?”
Yoga and the Flow of Prana
In yoga, we conceptualise a vital energy, or prana, as flowing throughout the body but concentrated along the spine.
Here’s a image we all know— the symbol of medicine — of two snakes wrapped around a single pole.
Before this became the universal representation of modern western medicine, it had many roots, including in yogic tradition.
The two snakes represent the feminine (called ida) and masculine (called pingala) energies.
The energies flow in balance around the central channel (called the sushumna).
Traditional Hatha yoga reflects this maculine and feminine balance in the word “hatha”. “Ha” means the sun or masculine energy and “tha” means the moon or feminine energy.
Ancient Indians were not the only ones who had these ideas. The Chinese called it yin and yang.
Here’s a break down of the basic meanings:
Starting a yoga pose with the right doesn’t mean that the masculine energy is “better.”
Our prana, or life force, depends on the two in balance. The physical practice of yoga - Hatha Yoga and the mental practice of yoga - Raja Yoga, becomes One. Yoga teach us to detach ourselves from concepts created by the human kind to create separation, duality.
Possible explanation from a scientific perspective.
We might twist to the right first to aid in natural contraction and relaxation of the tubes in the digestive system.
Our vital organs run clockwise throughout the body.
When twisting to the right, perhaps we help move things across the transverse colon toward the descending colon and, ultimately, out.
Maybe we turn to lie on our right side after Savasana because our heart is on the left side.
Being on the right can help distribute the blood better through the body with the aid of gravity.
We activate the left side of the brain when we move the limbs of the right side, accessing the thinking mind.
Maybe we must start from this logical perspective (because that is how our mind mostly processes in our day-to-day lives) before we can delve into the right brain, which generally lends itself to creativity, spirituality, and a meditative state.
Another possible reason is related to the active aspect of the masculine energy, right side.
Starting with the right side to get us “active’ on the pose.
Finishing the pose with the left side to "calm" us down.
The Tradition of 'Right Side First'
There is also tradition.
In every culture there is some sort of tradition that reinforces the right side that gives us luck.
In India, gifts are given with the right hand.For luck, we step into new places or situations with the "right leg" or "right foot".
In conclusion there isn’t any scientific evidence, a concrete proof of why we do it.
Most teachers like myself will do it out of tradition.
I find that not all the wisdom in this this old age discipline of yoga, can be explained in words that we can understand.
Very often I find that there is a lot more benefits to what, how, when, and why we do it that we can ever explain in words, or through science.
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