Left or right side: which one first?

Hi everybody!
I have a “technical” question: I noticed that some DYWM teachers start with a specific side of the body when it comes to asymmetrical asanas, while others apparently don’t (or at least, I did not notice a huge difference).

E.g. 1) from forward fold to high lunge, the left leg might be the first one to move towards the back of the mat; while 2) from chair pose to twists with “praying hands”, the left elbow is placed across the right knee first more often.

I was wondering if there could be an actual reason why a specific side of the body comes first (something that has to do with the asymmetry of our internal organs, perhaps?), or if is just a random choice and these supposed patterns are only in my head :thinking:

Thank you in advance. Stay safe, healthy and strong!

My take on it, being a yoga teacher:
It really doesn’t matter which side you start with, but you should vary. In my classes I sometimes start with the left side other times with the right. It also helps the yogis alert :slight_smile:
That said, when going from savanna to seated you should roll over to your right side due to your heart being on the left side.

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Thank you for your input, Stefan :slight_smile:

That is my question as well. I really appreciate if an instructor tells exactly what leg or arm to use. Thank I dont have to remember which one. I have done accidently the some pose with my right leg twice. Easirt, but wrong.
I got many years ago informed I should start in yoga with left, no idea why. But i sure do lpve gettomg the cue. Not just only: any leg!
Thanks for beating me to the question. Namaste

Hi Edaksi,

I’m thankful that you asked this question because I’ve often wondered why DYWM teachers don’t have a consistent approach.

When I did my teacher training, I learned to start most poses on the right side. There are a few poses, like high lunges, that I learned to start on the left. In a lunge, the left foot goes to the back of the mat first because you’re stretching the muscles on the right side. My teacher studied in India +25 years ago so he had a very traditional approach to yoga.

For spinal twists, I learned that it’s very important to first twist to the right because of peristalsis, the contraction and retraction of the muscles in your bowels. Twisting to the right compresses and massages the ascending colon. Then, when you twist to the left, the descending colon is stimulated. This helps to evacuate your bowels.

I did, however, come across the following in “Yoga Journal”. It may explain why the DYWM teachers change things up a bit: Long-time yogis might automatically assume {that you should start on} the right side first. However, as yoga aims to build conscious awareness, it’s best to guard against unconscious action. You could alternate which side you begin on with the days of the week. That way, each time you start a pose, you are forced to remain alert by checking in to the now.

In any case, I’m thankful to be a member of DYWM and have access to such wonderful and inspirational teachers.

Best wishes for your practice!

Hi smkbosshart,
Thank you for your insights!

In fact I noticed a kind of tendency to start high lunges with the left leg, while twists often start turning the body to the right. The peristalsis approach is very interesting. Next time, I will try to pay more attention to my bowels :wink:

I also agree with the approach of alternating left and right sides, for instance I try to do that while transitioning from chaturanga to upward facing dog, reminding myself to flip the right foot first, and then the left one in the following transition. It feels so good to be balanced, or at least trying to!

All the best, and stay safe wherever you are!