Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga

Why the right side first?

The answer to this question concerns the aspects of a liver and a spleen, nadi Ida (Candra) and Pingala (Surya), a right and left nostril, so also cerebral hemispheres and both sympathetic nervous system and parasympathetic nervous systems. In yoga it is a great science Sivasvarodaya; a science of Prana, of Nadi and of Pranayama.

Krishnamacharya paid attention to starting yoga pratice with the right side and to standing in asanas on a right leg as a first one. Then, we activate a liver. Thanks to it, a liver starts purify itself. A dominance of a right side activates a sun aspect of our body and, as a result, we generate warmth, sweat and a detoxication occurs. A liver stores blood. So when we start from the right side as a first one, a new, fresh blood flows into a liver. It rinses liver like a waterfall.

A liver stores toxins and blood. It weights about 1500-1700 grams but/and we (need to) add an extra weight of 500ml-800ml of blood (within it/stored in it). A spleen produces a lymph and bodily liquids. It weights 150 grams on its own. We (need to) add to it 50ml of blood.

So, a liver is much heavier than a spleen. That is why to lift a right hip or a right leg and to rotate right is much more difficult for us. A right leg is usually much heavier and more stiff. That is also why most people find it easier to take lotus posture with a left leg laced first or to hold a left leg in vinyasa as external one (it is external because it is easier to keep this lever).

In yoga we distinguish two key Nadis:

– Ida (Candra Nadi) it is the Nadi going through a left nostril and a right hemisphere. It is a Moon Nadi related to our intuition and feminine qualities. This Nadi tonifies nervous system, cools a body and quietens a mind. It aims at hydrating and completing bodily fluids (when it is active we should drink). It prepares us to sleep. It is connected to a spleen.

– another Nadi – Pingala (Surya Nadi) it is a right nostril and a left hemisphere. It is a Sun Nadi that reflects our mind and intellect and represents male qualities. This Nadi activates digestion and assimilability so we should eat meals when it is active. It stimulates nervous system to action, to sport activities and it warms our body. This Nadi is connected to a liver.

During a day, approximately every hour (2 ghatas) activity of nostrils changes – air goes mainly through a one nostril then – a left or a right one. Next, it starts to flow through the other one.

When we want to fall asleep or to calm our nervous system, we activate a left nostril by laying on a right side. If we want to activate digestion or to clear a mind, or to warm a body, then we lay on a left side to activate a right nostril.

After a practice, we turn right from Savasana so that we can get up. We gradually and a bit lazily activate nervous and digestive system. A heart and a liver slowly return to activity, without a sharp hit of a warmth (hot blood and high pressure) and, as a result, with no irritation or anger. It is no coincidence there is a saying ‘you got up with your left leg (first).

However, there’s a one exception: pregnant women. Before they get up from lying, pregnant woman should turn and lay left first. This is because an umbilical cord (including two arteries and a one vein) is located on the right. It should not be pinched by a weight of a baby while they are getting up.

Ewa Makowska

Why the right side first?