Our hands are one of the most important and frequently used parts of our bodies, yet are prone to various injuries and strains.
As such, it’s important to protect them – and that’s where hand yoga comes in.
You might not expect it, but hand poses constitute a huge part of the yoga library.
Also known as ‘Mudras‘, these are a collection of hand gestures believed to facilitate the flow of healing energy (called prana in Sanskrit).
Intrigued? Then keep reading, as in this article…
…we’re going to walk you through:
- The Origins and Philosophy of Hand Yoga
- The Benefits of Hand Yoga
- 6 Easy Yoga Poses for Your Hands, Wrists and Fingers
Let’s jump in.
The Origins of Hand Yoga
In traditional yogic texts, hand yoga referred to Mudras – specific hand gestures created to facilitate the movement of Prana energy to improve the health of the mind and body.
This forms part of Ayurvedic healing, which states our energies must be in equilibrium for our minds and body to be in optimal health.
Here, each of the five fingers represent the five different elements (fire, water, air, sky, and earth).
While traditional Mudras work through the acupuncture meridians and the channelling of energy, contemporary hand yoga includes various hand poses that work through activating, massaging and stretching certain muscle groups in the hands, wrists and fingers.
It is these poses that will form the focus of this article.
However, if you are interested in traditional Mudra hand poses, check out our article dedicated to this.
The Benefits: Why do we need Hand Yoga?
The advantages of practising hand yoga are bountiful. Here are our favourite 4 benefits.
#1: Prevents against injury.
We are all likely to experience some form of injury to our hands, fingers or wrists at some point in our lifetime – some being more severe than others.
The most common injuries include sprains, fractures, dislocations, pain, swelling, repetitive strain injuries, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and arthritis.
While the causes of these injuries vary, the risk factors commonly include overuse, work-related tasks, repeated but limited range of movements, overuse and build-up of tension.
Hand yoga offers a great antidote to these causes. By placing your hand in gestures outside of their regular, repetitive range of movements, hand yoga stretches and relieves the build-up of tension which can cause hand pain and injuries.
#2: Promotes strength and mobility.
Hand yoga exercises elongate and strengthens the muscles around the joints, which provides them with better support while they carry out the daily movements.
This not only reduces the risk of injury and damage but also improves flexibility and range of motion in the hands, wrists and fingers.
As further explained below, the improved blood flow to your hands warms up the muscles and ligaments which allows them to move with greater ease and reduced risk of overstretching or strain.
#3: Promotes blood flow.
Next, by encouraging dynamic movement across your hands, fingers and wrists, hand yoga stimulates greater blood flow to these areas.
This then increases the supply of oxygen and nutrients that circulates around the joint membranes, which are required to keep the cells working properly.
This also prevents the build-up of toxins and promotes the removal of toxins from the cells.
Furthermore, this increases the circulation of synovial fluid in these areas, which is crucial for the lubrication and cushioning of joints in our hands, wrists and fingers to keep them moving smoothly.
#4: Eases stress and promotes emotional balance.
As well as physical benefits, hand yoga also boasts many emotional and psychological benefits.
By mindfully coordinating specific body movements with breathing techniques, yoga encourages relief from emotional tension, anxiety, stress as well as triggering the release of feel-good-endorphins to further boost your mood.
6 Yoga Poses for Your Hands, Wrists and Fingers
#1: Eagle Arms
- Begin seated or standing in a comfortable position. Then, reach both arms out in front of you and wrap your right arm over your left, crossing the right elbow over the upper left arm.
- Lift your left hand towards your face, lift both elbows up to shoulder height and then bring your palms together so that your forearms are crossed.
- Keep your shoulders back and down away from your ears, to deepen the stretch.
- Remain here for up to ten deep breaths. Then, return to centre, shake it out and repeat on the other side for anatomical balance.
#2: Cobra Pose
- Begin in lying on your front comfortably on a mat. From here move your palms so they are flat on the floor and shoulder width apart, elbows bent and tucked in tightly to your side.
- Tuck your pubic bone under as if you’re moving it toward your belly button, keeping shoulders back and down. Then, inhale as you raise your chest up and away from the mat.
- Press down firmly ito your palms to lift yourself further. From here, gently rock forward, backward and from side to side pivoting at the wrist to stretch and release tension here.
#3: Dynamic Table Top Pose
- Begin on all fours in the centre of your mat, with hands, knees and tops of feet on the mat. Move your hands so they are directly under your shoulders, fingers facing forward.
- Next, move your knees hip width apart, making sure your feet are directly behind the knees. Press your palms down firmly into the mat and keep your back flat… like a table!
- To help keep your back flat, try tucking your tailbone under slightly as if you are bringing your pubis to your navel. Then, relax your shoulders to bring them back and down and away from the ears.
- From here, let your gaze fall to between the palms and move your torso in deep figure of eight movements, pivoting at the wrists and knees.
- Continue for at least 5 deep breaths. with each exhale, lengthen the spine by pulling the crown of the head towards the front of the mat, and the tail bone to the back wall.
#4: Wrist Rotations
- Begin seated or standing in a comfortable position. Then stretch out your left arm straight in front of you so that it’s parallel to the earth, fingers pointing straight ahead.
- Next, bend your left hand down so that your fingers are pointing towards the floor.
- To deepen the stretch, use your right hand to gently push on the back of your left hand, bringing it towards the body. Hold this position for 5–10 seconds.
- Release your hand to the original outstretched position. Then point your left hand up so that your fingers are pointing up toward the sky.
- Again, use your right hand to gently pull the left hand towards your body. Hold this position for 5–10 seconds.
- Release, then repeat with your right hand. Do this 4-6 times, alternating hands each time.
#5: Fist Finger Stretch
- Begin seated or standing comfortably. Then, make your left hand into a fist and hold it in front of you.
- Squeeze gently, to strengthen the fist. Remain here for 2-3 deep breaths. Then, release the fist so your hand is flat and open, fingers as splayed as possible. after 2-3 breaths, unsplay your hand to bring the fingers together.
- Next, you’re going to splay your fingers one at a time. Beginning with your pinky, try to spread it as far from the rest of your fingers as possible, then move it back. Repeat this 2-3 times.
- Then repeat with your ring finger 2-3 times, then your middle finger and so on, trying to do so as slowly and controlled as possible – it’s harder than it sounds!
- Release your left hand, shake it out and then repeat this whole sequence using your right hand.
#6: Prayer Hands
- Begin sitting or standing comfortably, then inhale and bring hands to your chest, both palms together and thumbs resting against your sternum.
- From here, press your palms firmly against eachother. We usually all have a stronger hand (i.e. being right-handed or left-handed!) that can lead to an imbalance here, so be mindful that each hand is exerting and recieving equal pressure.
- Next, gently bow your head to bring your chin towards your chest as you move your shoudler back and down, away from your ears.
- Then, lift your sternum into your thumbs and left your elbows rest heavy.
- Stay here for 5 or so minutes, breathing deeply and experimenting with having your fingers splayed and together.
Ever practiced yoga Poses with a Partner?
Practising yoga doesn’t have to be a solo endeavour. In fact, practising with a partner has lots of benefits not achieved in yoga practised alone.
Interested? Read this: 5 Fun Yoga Poses For Two People: Beginners and Beyond