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Why do we always start the practice of yoga asana from the right side?

Updated: May 3

Sometimes, when we keep doing the same action again and again, the action becomes a habit and we forget the reason why we have been doing it in the first place!! And so, it came as a surprise when one of my students asked me this question leading to some introspection and ultimately this blog.

Why do we always start the asanas from the right?  From a cultural perspective, it is not just Yoga practice but most of the action in India is started from the right as it is considered auspicious.  We enter the temple or any auspicious place by placing the right leg first.  We start any workshop with the right hand. Even when we want to hand over something to someone we do it with the right hand.

Anything done with the left hand is considered inauspicious in India and I clearly remember being scolded by elders when I inadvertently used my left hand for anything important.

According to Tantra and Yogic system, there are three fundamental subtle energy channels or Nadis within us; Ida, Pingala and Sushumna. In my earlier blog: “Reciprocal Inhibition …Secret to improve our flexibility“, I have mentioned about polarity in nature at the physical level. Ida and Pingala represent such polarity within us at subtle energetic level. Ida is cooling, Pingala is heating. Ida flows through the left nostrils and Pingala flows throughthe right nostril. Ida is known to activate Para-sympathetic nervous system thus creating calming effect, whereas Pingala is known to activate sympathetic nervous system thus driving activity.

Ida is feminine in nature, whereas Pingala is more masculine. We are all made of both feminine and masculine qualities. These are not just gender differences but differences in attitude. Masculine is more outgoing, whereas feminine is more inward and receptive. We all know that anything that is gentle or kind is considered as female quality and anything that involves force is considered as a male quality. This duality is symbolically represented in the form of Ardhanareeswara of Shiva and Shakti, where left side is Shakti and right side is Shiva.

Wondering what has all this to do with doing on the right side first?!! As the right side represents the outgoing, masculine, or activity side, it makes more sense to start all our actions with the right side and then later end it with feminine or calmer side which is the left side. As the primary purpose of Yoga is to calm our mind at the end of the practice, it makes more sense to end all our practices with the left side.

Apart  from this subtle idea from energy point of view, even at the at the physical level, the way the ascending and descending colon of our large intestine is arranged in the human body, twisting on the right enables easy elimination of waste.  Perhaps the colon too is engineered in line with our energetic system!

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