A student asked me this very good question in class the other day. The quick answer is yes. Yet when we bring sensitivity to our asana practice, we’ll notice that each side of the body responds differently to our efforts in a pose. There are a few reasons for this. Though our bodies are symmetrical with two arms two legs and so on, how we inhabit each side will be different. If you are right handed for example you will naturally use your right hand considerably more than the left. This develops a much stronger neurological connection to the whole right side of the body. With our brain being more intimately wired to one side, we’ll articulate the two sides a little differently. We’ll feel more familiar or at home with that “dominant” side. This may result in a noticeable discrepancy in strength and flexibility on one side compared to the other. When we experience this difference, what do we do, how should we work with it, how do we create balance?
In a seated twist for example notice which way you turn more easily. Can you turn more deeply one way than the other? When you come to the side that feels more restricted or less flexible, at what point in the process do you begin to notice? This is important. It’s at the place where you become aware of a difference that the work or exploration begins. Often we just try and push harder into the side that moves less easily. That rarely gets the results we’re looking for. We may become frustrated if one side doesn’t perform the way we’d like. Instead, become sensitive to the restriction, explore its edges. Become sensitive to the rhythm and depth of your breath. Make subtle changes in your body’s alignment looking for a way in. Often it’s less about trying to move the body from the outside and more about creating space and movement from the inside.We move from what I call the Inner Body, Pranic Body or Energy Body – prana flows where your attentions goes. The more attention and focus you enlist without too much concern for the ultimate outcome, the more you can move the body with prana. In this way the pose evolves from the inside out.
Try this approach first in a pose that you are familiar with, one that is stable and isn’t too physically demanding so you can stay and play awhile.
You may find that a pose you once found frustrating or had given up on becomes a beautiful field of fruitful exploration and hidden delight.