why do we lie on the right side in yoga?

savasana wrap for yoga
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you asked

Why does my yoga instructor always have us lie on our right side before coming up from the final relaxation pose?- Rachel (@racheljoon)

two yogis answer

Ted's answer:

You lie on your right side for 2 reasons.

1.Your heart is on your left side. When you roll to your right, your heart is above the organs on your right side, it's less weight on the heart. It's not that big of a deal, but if you rolled to your left, the heart would have a bit more pressure on it after savasana.

2. You roll to your right side because you want to cool down and remain calm when you come up to a seated meditation. The left side is the yin side of your body. By breathing through your left nostril, your left nostril will open more which affects

- Ted, lululemon Malibu ambassador

Grace's answer:

Dear Rachel,

The concept of polarity, or balancing the opposites, is vital to both Yoga and Indian traditional life. The right side of the body is related to the solar/positive/masculine flows of energy that are manifest by the surya nadi, which is correlated to the termination of the pingala nadi (a major prana nadi which flows along the right side of the spine). The left side is related to the lunar/negative/feminine flows of energy that are manifest by the chandra nadi, which is said to be the termination of the ida nadi (along the left side of the spine).
We must also remember that even the term Hatha Yoga, which means “sun and moon,” has the right side placed before the left in its esoteric association of ha with the sun and tha with the moon (Hatha).
There are also some physical reasons for this:
If the goal is ‘action’ and one has ‘things’ to do after a practice, one rolls to the right side. It is generally recommended that one get up from bed by rolling to their right side, as it is energetically linked to ‘action’. If one is trying to remain calm, or preparing for bed, one should roll to the left side.

  • Rolling to the right side of the body is rolling away from the heart (less pressure and weight on the rested and open heart).
  • Pausing on the right side allows the students natural blood pressure to reach it's potential homeostasis.
  • Resting on the right side allows the energy to be redirected in the present moment as needed and circulated appropriately.

- Grace, lululemon Queen St. ambassador

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This is incredibly interesting! From previous classes, I know that my instructors always said “roll to which ever side is comfortable to you”, but I 100% of the time roll to the right. I always wondered why – now I know. Thanks for the great post!

Comment by Alicia at Poise in Parma — July 11, 2010 @ 9:41 am

Wow! This is great! I have always wondered, but was too afraid to ask in class–> I thought maybe it was common sense that I didnt have!:)

Comment by Sarah — August 19, 2010 @ 5:44 pm

The side I have my students roll to after shavasana really depends on what’s going to happen directly after.
My understanding is, that the R nostril (where the pingala nadi–associated with the sun and heating, active, masculine energy–terminates) is a bit more connected to the the action/ the active senses (karm indryas)and if one is desiring to “accomplish” something it’s a bit more preferable for the right nostril to be the “active” nostril. Additionally, when the right nostril is dominant it stimulates digestion and warms the body. For this reason, if I’m not planning on doing a guided meditation, and especially if the class I’ve taught happens to precede a common meal time (which they often do) I will ask my students to roll onto their left side first. There are pressure points along the whole left side of the body from the armpit/shoulder area all the way down to the base of the hip. Lying on that side for a while activates those pressue points which cause the right (top) nostril to become dominant/active.

Similarly, the left nostril (where the ida nadi–associated with the moon and feminine, cooling, passive energy–terminates)is a bit more connected to the cognitive senses–(gyan indriyas) and it’s a bit preferable for the left nostril to be the dominant nostril if one is going to engage in more contemplative, introverted activities. So if I wanted my students to remain more “inward” with their energy, like, for example if we were preparing for contemplative practice or meditation after shavasana (though meditation itself is actually pretty much the only time, as is my understanding, that we want both nostrils to be equally open; so in this case, while I would have them roll the their right side first to encourage the left nostril to be the active nostril so that they remain relaxed and more internally focused when preparing for meditation, once they were actually seated, I would have them practice nadi shodhanam and then work on establishing shusumna nadi (the central channel).

Additionally, ida nadi is associated with the parasympathetic nervous system so if I were working with someone who was particularly anxious, I would probably ask them to roll onto their right side first.

Also, if I’m working with a student in the more advanced stages of pregnancy, I will ask her to lie on her left side (adequately propped for comfort of course) for the duration of shavasana to avoid compressing the inferior vena cava.

For the most part though (save for late stages of pregnancy when shavasana may be done entirely on one’s side)the amount of time spent on one side or the other rolling out of shavasana is so minimal that in the long run, it really doesn’t matter all that much in the long run. Really, rolling to the right or the left side after shavasana actually makes little difference physiologically or energetically.

Comment by Kathryn — September 18, 2010 @ 8:06 am

One small note, the word ‘Hatha’ can be split apart into Sun and Moon as indicated above, but as a whole, “Hatha” means force or compulsion. The physical practice of yoga is one of force to start people on the path to more subtle forms of practice and thinking. It is impossible to reflect on the subtle truths of life when our bodies are broken or diseased and our minds are riddled with selfish desires. The physical practice helps to wake us up to the delusion of humanity. Creating balance in the body only serves to create a space conducive for self reflection.

Comment by Nick — March 1, 2011 @ 6:20 am

Um I think that if Grace investigates and researches proper meditation technique, the common consensus is that you RELAX by lying on your right side, “Your heart is on the left side, when you roll to the right, it remains open and free from excessive pressure. Rolling to our right side also keeps the ida nadi * of the subtle body active and helps keep our physical body in a state of tranquility as you rise slowly to a seated position.” Is this not true?
Thanks for clearing it up! We have several yoga instructors and they say different things at the end of practice!

Comment by Susanna K — February 20, 2012 @ 8:14 am

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