Hasta Bandha, is a specific kind of energy lock Hasta Bandha is believed to have numerous benefits for the body and mind.
In this article, we will explore:
- what hasta bandha means,
- its benefits as per ancient yogic texts,
- how to connect and cultivate hasta bandha,
- and specific yoga asanas or practices to harness the energy of hasta bandha.
What is Hasta Bandha? Bandhas in Ancient Yogic Texts
Hasta Bandha is a Sanskrit term that means “hand lock.” It is a yogic practice that involves the contraction of specific muscles in the hands and arms to create a subtle energetic lock in the body.
Hasta Bandha involves spreading the fingers and pressing them into the earth whist creating a lift in the palm of the hand, almost like you’re cupping the ground.
The practice of hasta bandha is believed to activate the flow of prana or life force energy in the body and stimulate the nervous system.
Hasta Bandha is considered to be a minor Bandha, that complements the practice of other major bandhas or yogic energy locks, including the three most famous Bandhas – Mula Bandha (pelvic floor), Uddiyana Bandha (abdominals up to the diaphragm), Jalandhara Bandha (throat).
Hasta Bandha: 3 Key Benefits
There are numerous benefits associated with the practice of Hasta bandha. The following are some key benefits that I have seen from my own experience practicing and teaching this to my students:
1. Improved Grip Strength:
The practice of hasta bandha can improve grip strength in your hands and arms. This can be beneficial for activities that require gripping such as weightlifting, rock climbing, or playing musical instruments.
2. Improved Circulation:
Hasta bandha can improve circulation in your hands and arms. This can be beneficial for people who spend long hours typing on a computer or performing repetitive hand movements.
3. Increased Energy:
Hasta bandha can help to increase energy levels in your body. By activating the flow of prana, your body can become more energized and alert, leading to increased vitality and overall well-being.
Who can benefit from Hasta Bandha?
Because of the numerous benefits of Hasta Bandha, this practice can be beneficial for a wide range of people. Here are some groups of individuals who can benefit from practicing Hasta Bandha:
Hasta Bandha is an important aspect of many yoga practices and can help yogis deepen their practice. By connecting with the energy in the hands, yogis can improve their balance, stability, and focus.
Individuals with wrist pain:
Hasta Bandha can help to alleviate wrist pain by strengthening the muscles in the hands and wrists and improving circulation. Individuals with conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome or repetitive strain injury may benefit from practicing Hasta Bandha.
Individuals with hand and finger stiffness:
Hasta Bandha can help to improve flexibility in the hands and fingers by stretching and strengthening the muscles. This can be beneficial for individuals with conditions such as arthritis or Parkinson’s disease.
Musicians and artists:
Musicians and artists who use their hands extensively can benefit from Hasta Bandha. Strengthening the muscles in the hands and fingers can improve dexterity and coordination, allowing for greater precision and control.
Individuals who use computers or smartphones frequently:
Hasta Bandha can help to prevent and alleviate the strain on the hands and wrists that can occur from frequent computer or smartphone use. Practicing Hasta Bandha can strengthen the muscles in the hands and wrists, reducing the risk of injury and improving overall comfort.
Individuals with poor circulation in the hands:
Hasta Bandha can help to improve circulation in the hands and fingers. This can be beneficial for individuals with conditions such as Raynaud’s disease, which can cause numbness, tingling, and pain in the hands and fingers.
Hasta Bandha: How to Connect and Practice in Yoga Asanas
You can engage Hasta Bandha when assuming postures that involve supporting your body weight with your hands.
Engaging in this technique prevents strain on your wrists by evenly distributing the weight across your hand, utilizing the natural arch of your palm to balance the pressure. Here are 4 key elements to help you connect with hasta bandha.
The first step in connecting with hasta bandha is to become aware of the muscles in the hands and arms. Take a few moments to bring your attention to your hands and arms, and notice any tension or tightness in the muscles.
Once you are aware of the muscles in the hands and arms, begin to focus on your breath. Take a few slow, deep breaths, and imagine the breath flowing into your hands and arms. As you exhale, imagine any tension or tightness in the muscles releasing.
Ensure that your wrists are aligned directly beneath the shoulders and position your hands with the middle finger pointing forward.
Extend your fingers wide, creating space between them, with a particular focus on spreading the index finger and thumb away from each other.
Establish a strong connection with the mat by grounding the four corners of your hands and fingers. Pay special attention to pressing the pads of the thumb and index finger firmly into the mat, as these are your primary pressure points.Firmly plant the rest of your fingertips into the mat, imagining a claw-like curling motion. These serve as your secondary pressure points. Energetically draw upward through the center of your palms, generating an upward lift through the arms and relieving pressure from the wrists.
Specific Yoga Asanas to Harness the Energy of Hasta Bandha
There are several yoga asanas or practices that can help you harness the energy of hasta bandha. Here are a few examples from Beginner to Advanced:
This beginner-friendly posture is the most accessible to activate hasta bandha. Come to the floor on your hands and knees. Bring the knees hip width apart, with the feet directly behind the knees. Bring the palms directly under the shoulders with the fingers facing forward.
Look between your palms and press into your palms to drop your shoulders slightly away from the ears. Lengthen your tailbone and the crown of the head away from each other.
This posture helps to activate hasta bandha by pressing the hands into the mat and engaging the muscles in the hands and arms. It also helps to stretch the hamstrings, calves, and spine.
Plank pose is a great way to activate hasta bandha while also strengthening the core muscles. To practice, come into a push-up position with your hands shoulder-width apart and your feet hip-width apart. Engage the muscles in the hands and arms to create hasta bandha, and hold the pose for a few breaths.
Handstand is an advanced yoga posture that requires a lot of strength and balance. It is a great way to activate hasta bandha and improve grip strength. To practice, come into downward-facing dog, then walk your feet in towards your hands. Kick up into a handstand, and engage the muscles in the hands and arms to create hasta bandha.
Hasta mudras: Another way of awakening prana
Aside from the Yoga Asanas mentioned above, I have found that practicing Hasta (hand) mudras is a great way to activate and awaken prana in the palms, and it greatly complements Hasta Bandha in my Yoga practice.
Hasta mudras are used primarily for meditation purposes, but can also be incorporated in asana and pranayama as well as in daily life activities. Hasta mudras redirect the prana traveling through the fingers back into the body.
Here are 5 hand mudras to complement your Hasta Bandha practice:
- Gyan Mudra, also referred to as the ‘Gesture of Consciousness,’ is a hand posture intended to “attain enlightenment.” It involves bringing the index finger into contact with the thumb.
- Akash Mudra, alternatively known as the ‘Gesture View,’ aims to promote a sense of ‘lightness.’ To assume this pose, you simply need to touch the tip of your middle finger with your thumb.
- Garuda Mudra, also called the ‘Eagle Seal,’ serves the purpose of ‘balance.’ This yogic hand gesture involves using both hands.
- Surya Mudra, known as the ‘Gesture of Sun,’ aims to aid in ‘weight loss.’ To perform this mudra, fold your ring finger in a way that it touches the base of your thumb, while placing your thumb over it.
- Prithvi Mudra, also referred to as the ‘Gesture of Earth,’ aims to enhance strength. This hand mudra involves touching the ring finger with the thumb as a practice.
In conclusion, hasta bandha is a powerful yogic practice that can bring numerous benefits to the body and mind. By connecting with and cultivating hasta bandha, you can improve grip strength, increase concentration, reduce stress, improve circulation, and increase energy levels in the body.
By incorporating specific yoga asanas and practices, you can harness the energy of hasta bandha and deepen your yoga practice. With dedication and practice, hasta bandha can become a valuable tool in your journey toward physical, mental, and spiritual well-being.