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Why is proper hand posture important when doing yoga?

By Apricus Health

4th June 2021

From the beginning days of Yoga practice, we learn the importance of spreading the fingers and grounding down through our hands. Proper hand posture during Yoga can help you extend poses, give you more power, balance and support. Below you’ll find our guide to mastering your hand postures, to get the most out of your practice.

Strengthen and Lengthen

During practice, it is important to keep the hands, fingers and wrists flexible and spacious. Without these connections, we cannot deepen our poses and some other parts of our bodies must take on the task meant for the hands, often this brunt is taken on by our shoulders.

Stretching our hands and fingers is imperative in keeping things fluid and mobile. The hand’s tendency is to curl in on itself and we need to work to resist gravity’s natural tendency. When our fingers are not able to stretch and lengthen and our wrists are limited in movement, we are in danger of losing the power in our hands and the effects will be felt in our bodies, breath and confidence in our hands being able to do the work we require.

Explore spreading of the hands and angles of the wrist

Find a balance of spreading the fingers (abduction) that creates a natural, inherent support for your wrists. Often, too much finger spreading creates unnecessary tension and rigidity. No one, specific alignment of the hands is perfect – we are all built differently, so play with how it best feels to align, angle and set the line of the fingers and wrists.

Changing hand width can do wonders

When the hands are close, we tend to have force loads bearing down more through the ulnar side of the wrist and into the Triangular Fibrocartilage Complex. When the hands are moved wider (and it doesn’t take much adjusting), force loads are often shifted more into the radial side. Give that try – do a small pushup movement with hands close versus wide and notice where the loading is most predominant in the wrist. From there, try slightly different hand widths in postures like Downward Facing Dog, Crow, and Upward Facing Dog.

How can hand width variability enhance these types of postures?

Remember that our bone structures are highly variable along with lifestyle patterns – some of us need to apply care and attention for the carpal tunnel, others for the ulnar side of the wrist, and even some of us have structural conditions in the radial side that require accommodation and modifications. There is never a need to practice with discomfort. Move and adjust to find your authentic lines of engagement. Also consider that Hatha Yoga is a means of applying ‘positive stress’ to our tissues to waken, strengthen, and expand them. But with any exercise program, a prudent approach to progressive, holistic overload of tissues (whether it be strengthening or stretching) is the incorporation of rest. Mix up your sequencing and styles of practices so that you can provide periods of rest for your hands and wrists. Mindfulness and nurturing go a long way in supporting a vibrant practice.