Med thumb hindusleeppositions

 

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Sex and sleep are among the most basic of human needs. They’re also among the most pleasurable of experiences, so it’s no wonder that early Hindus — enlightened authors of the Kama Sutra — extended their teachings about sexual positions to include instructions on sleep positions. To be more precise, their acknowledgement of sleep had to do with direction; meaning, the position of the body in relation to the earth’s cardinal compass points. And it's still prevalant in certain parts of Hindu culture today.  

References to sleep positions can be found in a number of ancient Sanskrit missives, collections of practical wisdom that the Hindu tradition refers to as puranas. In fact, one of the oldest and most revered of these texts, the Vishna Purana, tells readers that sleep is to be conducted only with the head facing East or South.

Sleeping with the top of one’s head facing South was said to increase wealth, happiness, prosperity and intimacy among couples. By contrast, sleeping with your head pointed North was to be avoided at all times.

“O King! It is beneficial to lie down with the head placed eastward or southward,” reads a portion of the manuscript. “The man who lies down with his head placed in contrary directions becomes diseased.” Another important Hindu text, the Mahabharata, one of India’s two major epics, advises, “Men become wise by sleeping eastward and southward.”

Compasspoints_hindusleep

This preoccupation with orienting one's sleeping body in accordance with particular compass points originates with the Vastu Shastra, the important Ayurvedic belief that a basic mystic energy flows from east to west across the earth and that the human head functions as a receptor. In the Vastu Shastra belief system, sleeping with the top of one’s head facing east was said to increase memory and one’s inclination toward spirituality. It also ensured pleasant dreams, good health, and high energy upon waking.

Sleeping with the top of one’s head facing south was said to increase wealth, happiness, prosperity and intimacy among couples. By contrast, sleeping with your head pointed north was to be avoided at all times, not merely because it interrupts the restorative east-west flow of energy, but also because negative energy that might get trapped in the body was thought to originate there.

All of this explains why, as Sri Sri Ravi Shankar notes, doctors in India still face their patients toward the east during examinations, and why more orthodox brides and their grooms continue to face east on their wedding day. It’s also why Hindu mothers still warn their children about lying down or sleeping with their heads facing north. And why corpses are still positioned and buried facing south, which is the direction of Lord Yama, the god of death.
 
Modern Vastu Shastra practitioners aren’t alone in their belief in a powerful universal energy (positive or negative) that can be attracted or repelled by manipulating one’s environment or orienting oneself properly to receive it. China still has its Feng Shui and Japan has its Chi; and if online videos and book sales are any indication, such beliefs are becoming increasingly popular around the world.
 
Scientists would caution that, to date, none of these ancient beliefs have been scientifically verified. But that’s true of most belief systems and religions in general. It’s all just a matter of faith.