The other day after class, a student asked, “Why do we roll to our right sides after Savasana?” This is a great question and it is not exactly common knowledge unless of course you are the Dali Lama or the inventor of Sanskrit. I am neither, and to come to think of it, we didn’t cover it during my yoga teacher training. I find this question even more compelling, specifically too because when you are pregnant, you are directed to sleep on your left side for best blood circulation. Based on this, rolling to your right side has seemed contradictory to me.
To vanquish my own confusion, I did some research and here is what I came up with. In yoga, and in pregnancy there are physical, psychological, and customary reasons for rolling to your right side.
Rolling to your right side in yoga.
When you roll to your right side, your heart is above your organs, which means there is less pressure on your heart. Much of any asana practice is about opening your heart and the action of rolling to your right continues this opening and freeing from pressure. There is a purpose in physical space for rolling to the right side which leads into the psychological aspects.
Psychologically, rolling to your right side after savasana represents a heating, Yang energy. The right side of your body is related to the solar, masculine flows of energy of the major prana nadi, which flows along the right side of your spine. Your right side correlates with action and awakening setting undertones for ancient customs.
Traditionally, in India, it is encouraged to enter a room with your right foot. Also, in many parts of the world especially the east, we extend our right hand to greet one another. Rolling to the right or east direction is symbolic of beginning and extending our grace into the world ahead.
Rolling to your left side in pregnancy.
According to WebMD, rolling to your left side improves circulation, giving nutrient-packed blood an easier route from your heart to the placenta to nourish your baby. Lying on your left side also relieves the pressure of your uterus from lying on top of your liver, which is essential in the processing of nutrients and detoxification of non-nutrients. In can be denoted that the slight pressure on your heart from lying on your left side is optimum for blood flow.
Energetically speaking, the left side of your body is related to the lunar, feminine flows and is representative of a cooling, calming, Yin energy which is manifested by the prana, chandra nadi. The chandra nadi runs along the left side of your spine. which has deep associations with relaxation and restfulness.
In pregnancy, there is no custom to which side to choose. Based on the above, a pregnant woman could be recommended to roll to the left side in asana practice, however, in both sleep and yoga, my recommendation is to listen to your body. Each woman should choose what is most comfortable to max out on sleep or rest before that little peanut takes it away from her for an undetermined amount of sleepless, awe-struck nights that lie ahead to be cherished and treasured.
Which side do you prefer? In pregnancy or not? Left or Right? Please share!
Also by Johanna: 5 Tips to Get Out of Yoga Rut + Reboot Your Practice
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Photo: Johanna Mason