There are many instructions that you don’t hear in a Bikram or hot or tantra yoga class of a yoga teacher training and you should know common mistakes and know how to fix them. Hands are the poor cousins in a yoga class where the back gets most of the attention! Oh, that and breathing of course.
But it may surprise you to discover that hand and finger positions can be critical in your practice.
There’s either little focus on it or you’ve just not been ready to make the distinctions. Either way, it’s good to delve into this seldom talked about subject. Could be your missing link!
Hand placement could be as simple as placement to support the body, but in the next 2 newsletters I am going to examine those poses where you bring your hands together.
A prime example is when you find yourself with your thumbs on top of your feet. Is there really a difference if you place them on top or below the foot?
Should you follow directions and interlock all 10 fingers?
During class you may be asked to interlock fingers when your arms are straight up over your head. You could also be instructed to place them under your foot. You may be asked to pull down on your knee with fingers intertwined (Clearly not when your arms are over your head!).
So does it make a difference how you hold your hands?
You bet it does!
When I first started this yoga there were many ‘yoga commands’ that just didn’t seem right. Actually, learning from them has been a wonderful process and has connected me with my practice more than obeying every command ever could.
Many of these things I have questioned are indeed myths which will be the focus of forthcoming newsletters!
At the time, it just didn’t seem feasible that pulling my knee to my chest with interlocked fingers in “wind removing pose” could possibly strengthen my fingers to any appreciable degree. Here’s why…
In those days everyone in the studio where I went used little hand towels. Most people brought 2 little face washers or one hand towel with them.
We were even instructed to wipe sweat periodically throughout the class. Before Head to Knee pose for one. (Hey, that’s something in the ‘dialog’ even now, but it honestly takes away from your practice). Before standing bow, I wiped my knees before Wind removing pose.
“Automatically” Strengthening Your Hands and Fingers
One day I had a realization that if my fingers were really going to develop any strength at all I had better ditch the little towels and start using my fingers – wet or dry.
At first my hands slipped every class. If my nails were long I would sometimes even scratch myself with long scoring patterns whenever my limb slipped out of my grip.
But over time my hands really did become strong. My fingers really did develop power.
Wiping sweat is a bad habit.
It is not simply about the grip either. Your sweat is one of the mechanisms your body uses to cool down.
If you wipe your sweat then your body can’t cool its core temperature as easily because there is no surface evaporation.
Your core temperature can rise and you can get yourself into a very risky situation. No kidding.
What, No More Hand-towels?
Don’t be concerned about your grip and don’t be concerned about the sweat, unless of course it is dripping in and stinging your eyes. Then and only then can you wipe sweat.
And before you know it, one day, just like me, you will find yourself feeling fabulous, dripping with sweat, having the time of your life, with a tight solid and powerful finger grip that can do just about anything.