Monthly Archives: August 2016

Should You Interlock All Your Ten Fingers?

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.



Reference Gabrielle


Top Ten Things You Must Do In A Hot Yoga Class

In reality this is a lifelong journey – so appreciate that I’m summarizing a few tips that can and will make a big difference to YOU! There are top 10 things must do in hot yoga teacher training class in a yoga school.


  1. Wear the right clothes! That usually means form-fitting moisture-breathable sports-style gear such as bike shorts and lycra-style sports bras. You can wear knee-, Capri or mid-calf pants too.


  1. Drink plenty of water during the day, both before and after class. Sip water in class to replenish fluids, especially if it’s very hot (whether or not you can see that you’re physically sweating). Remember to keep sea salt in your diet (and consider electrolyte supplementation).


  1. Breathe! Yes, it’s true one can always breathe more effectively.

Watch a video on breathing-


  1. Connect with yourself – use the mirror and keep your eyes open during the class (no nap taking in savasana!).


  1. Use struggle as your guide. By this I mean when things become frustrating and you find yourself struggling, this is a useful sign to adjust something – your thoughts, your breathing or a simple correction of posture. Using struggle as your guide will also help stop you going too far and exposing yourself to injury. (Another way of expressing it is this: Identify struggle as you encounter it and then move away from it.)


  1. Respect your fellow students. Everyone is on their own yoga journey. Some days you might find yourself commenting to yourself about what others are doing. You may even feel judgmental or concerned or even smug about any little thing. Or you could be comparing yourself as better as or worse than them.

Read more about cooling, sweat and hydration here-


  1. Follow your instructor’s directions (with an important waiver)! With a repeated set of poses the question remains: How on earth do you treat each class as if you’ve never done it before when you keep hearing the same thing again and again? Running on auto-pilot is perhaps your biggest danger. It is the opposite of being present.


It is a real conundrum and conversations with thousands of students over the years (in person and on the forum) have shown me that this is the biggest reason why people give up or consider giving up their yoga. Their solid habit is always good physically but the now mindless approach (because that’s what habits are) has ripped the soul out of their precious practice.



The trick is to follow instructions with a critical attention to detail. Don’t just let instructions flow into you without passing through your gatekeeper. Your gatekeeper keeps you safe. Of course, YOU are the gatekeeper! Every phrase uttered has to be consumed by you and then you attempt to follow that cue. If at any time you find there is a twinge, an ache, or a feeling of the slightest bit of struggle then you take affirmative action!


Look, struggle is not the same as challenge. Challenge is good! You want some challenge. Struggle is when you feel uneasy, a pained expression, maybe your forehead has creased, your hamstrings hurt, your brow curled, or your jaw or shoulders tightened.


Sometimes all it takes is a little patience. Use a little TIME to honor your teacher AND YOURSELF and to keep you safe. Make an effort to momentarily WAIT for instructions from your teacher to process exactly what’s being asked of you before you progress. What you discover will sometimes amaze you. You might find that you can do exactly what’s said and other times you’ll realize that it doesn’t make sense or is impossible to do … or more importantly that it hurts you.


It is a CRUCIAL part of your personal development to make the right changes in your poses if you happen to interpret something in your own body as risky for you to do. This is where learning best technique is so important [and perhaps where I can help you].


Final point for now is a common example for you: If your lower back or hamstrings are hurting you in a pose where your teacher says to lock out your legs, then stop auto-pilot from locking your legs. So it does not matter if you are being cajoled to lock your legs, you keep them a little bent to keep space in your back and hamstrings. Aaaaahh! 🙂


  1. Be present. Again, running on autopilot could cause you to think about other things while absently practicing your asanas. When this happens (it happens to all of us from time to time), simply refocus on 3 and 4 and all will be well again! Self-assessment and keeping yourself safe is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY regardless of what you’re told to do. When it comes to interpreting risky instruction your body’s voice is the most important one (and more important than your teacher’s).


  1. Find your Savasanas quickly. Your practice will be oh-so-much-more effective if you go quickly, without rushing, into Savasana. So many benefits are deepened by letting go into Savasana immediately after each pose, whether you’re standing or laying down. Find your Savasana without any extra activity… no wiping sweat, no adjusting your mat, no moving your water bottle, just get there and be still!


  1. Practice your OWN class. It doesn’t matter what on earth that noodle is doing next to you, or that someone somewhere is grunting in and out of every pose. It’s YOUR class, so be in it.


Read more-

Reference Gabrielle