People often ask, “When we come out of deep relaxation in Savasana, why do you always have us roll onto our right sides? Why not the left side?” I sometimes jokingly answer, “I want everyone to roll the same way so they don’t bump into each other, and since most people are right-handed, I’m fairly sure they know which way is to the right.”
In fact, many yoga teachers have their students come out of deep relaxation in this way, and I’ve heard a variety of rationales. One theory holds that, since the heart is in the left side of the chest, lying on the right side is easier on the heart (there’s less weight resting on it) than lying on the left side. Well, there are also valid physiological reasons for lying on the left side, so this one doesn’t convince me.
Another rationale is that lying on the right side opens the left nostril and left side of the nasal cavity. (If you’ve never done this, try it: it works.) Why is that desirable? The reason is, the greater the flow of breath in the left nostril, the more the right side of the brain is activated. The right side of the brain tends to work in intuitive ways, whereas the left side is more linear, analytical, and if you’re going to meditate after deep relaxation—as we do in Ananda Yoga®—it’s helpful to be in a more intuitive space. How much difference will this strategy make? I’m not sure, but every little bit helps.
There’s a more compelling rationale, however. Paramhansa Yogananda taught that the right side of the body is the positive side (i.e., positive/negative in the sense of active/receptive, not good/bad). There is a stronger flow of life-force on the right side, and that generates a spiritual vibration that helps to shield one from harmful forces. Lying on the right side, he said, helps to stimulate that flow of energy, and thus strengthen the shield—which is a good thing, no matter what you intend to do after deep relaxation.
This also helps explain why mantra diksha (spiritual mantra initiation) is given in the right ear: the mantra seed is “planted” in the more active side of the body. In addition, this explains why, in the AUM Technique of Ananda MeditationTM—in which we strive to become absorbed in the inner sounds of the chakras-—we concentrate our hearing inside the right ear.
Give this a try: Next time you sit to meditate—perhaps after lying on your right side for a bit—begin with the following guided meditation/visualization from Paramhansa Yogananda: Tune in with the Cosmic Sound. You’ll try to hear, inside the right ear, the cosmic sound of AUM, which is the creative power behind our very existence. To help you connect with AUM, the recording includes Swami Kriyananda chanting “AUM”—most of the time, quietly in the background; it’s from his CD, Mantra of Eternity. When you finish listening to the external sound of this recording, listen intently to whatever internal sound you hear, even if it’s only your own heartbeat. It will take you to a more internalized state of awareness.
This guided practice is also effective during the expansion phase of your meditation, after you’ve completed the practice of your meditation technique. For your convenience, the words of this guided meditation are provided below.
by Paramhansa Yogananda
Metaphysical Meditations, 1932 Edition
Listen to the cosmic sound on the sensitive right side of your head. Feel it spreading through the head. Hear its continuous pounding roar. Now hear and feel it spreading over the spine and bursting open the doors of the heart. Feel it resounding through every tissue, every feeling, every cord of your nerves. Every blood cell, every thought, is dancing on the sea of roaring vibration.
Watch the spread of the volume of the cosmic sound. It sweeps through the body and mind into the earth and the surrounding fifty miles of atmosphere, into the airless ether, and into millions of universes of matter.
Meditate on the marching spread of the cosmic sound. It has passed through the physical universes to the subtle shining veins of rays that hold all matter in manifestation.
The cosmic sound is commingling with violet, orange, and a million multi-colored rays. The cosmic sound has entered the conscious cosmic rays. Listen, behold, and feel the embrace of the cosmic sound and the eternal light. The cosmic sound now pierces through the heart fires of cosmic energy and they both melt into the bosom of cosmic consciousness and cosmic joy. The body melts into the universe. The universe melts into the soundless voice. The sound melts into the all‑shining light. And the light enters the bosom of infinite joy.