Today we are examining hand placement, which plays a major role in the foundation of the Yoga practice. Keep reading for key alignment tips and don’t forget to watch the video!
Poses that require you to have your hands on the floor will either help build your practice correctly or will end up injuring your shoulders.
I often see students try to do more advanced postures like the beloved handstand without understanding the placement of their hands—giving them zero chance of balancing upside down. Let’s start at the beginning of the practice-focusing on understanding what we’re asking of the physical body-and build upon that. Keep reading for key alignment tips.
1. Place your hands down onto your mat, not wider than your shoulders. Make sure you can see the mat between each finger tip
2. If you know that your shoulders are tight, have your index finger face the front of the mat. Otherwise, turn your hands fully forward so the third finger faces the front of your mat.
3. Check that your elbows line up with your thumbs. The tendency is for the elbows to splay out, ending up in line with the pinky instead. This may be a good time to pause and explore turning your hands out a bit so the index finger faces the front of the mat.
4. There’s a tendency to sit in the heel of the hand. In addition to causing long term pain, this also causes your thumb and index finger to lift—which ends up being one of the biggest misalignments I see. This is a wrong approach and huge mistake. The proper approach is to keep your thumb and index finger super glued to the mat.
5. The magic here is created by pressing through your fingertips and allowing the heel of the hand to stay light. This activates your flexors and extensors. No one should be able to lift their fingertips while their hands are placed down on the mat whether they’re doing plank pose, down dog or a handstand. Same principles apply. However, you should always be able to lift up the heel of your hand with ease.