Hands Down!

Aug 14th, 2017
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Our hands play a very important role in charging energy from the earth towards our bodies in lots of yoga poses. Quite often, however, we either feel discomfort or have injuries in our shoulders, shoulder blades, elbows or wrists after poses that involve weight bearing on our hands. Examples include downward facing dog, plank, cobra or any hand balancing poses. Let’s figure this out and find out the solutions.

Why?

In the examples mentioned above, our hands bear the body weights. An ideal alignment suggests that we spread the fingers wide with their roots grounding firmly and finger pads digging deep on the floor. The centre of the palm is lightly lifted up as if we can put a sheet of paper underneath. At the same time, we need to pay attention to the Thumb-Index Web – the triangular space from the root of the thumb, the root of the index finger and the inner wrist. The firm grounding of all these should happen without twisting the elbows or rolling in the shoulders.

Hence let’s take a test on how effortless this can be achieved.

Lie down on the floor, roll out the shoulders and keep the elbows still. Try to ground the palms on the floor. Ideally the Thumb-Index Web and the five knuckles should be grounded firmly on the floor. The Thumb-Index Web nevertheless usually betrays. This means that we ground them back on the floor at the expense of either turning in the elbows or rolling in the shoulders. This tendency creates pain or injuries, sooner or later.

2 Yin Practices
Try these yin practices to improve the situation:

Practice 1
1. Lie down on the floor. Roll out the right shoulder, using the left hand to stabilise it.
2. Keep the right elbow still. Place the right palm on the floor.
3. In order to ensure there is not any gap on the Thumb-Index Web, use the right heel to step on it, from the inner wrist towards the root of the thumb and index finger.
4. Keep watching the shoulder and the elbow, never allowing them to roll in.

Benefits: This asana fixes the valves and prevents the blood (refluxing) flowing from the wrong way, when the valves stop working.

Practice 2

1. Press the palms on the floor in either a child pose or downward facing dog.
2. Use three yoga blocks as shown in the picture to keep the palms in shoulder width.
3. Place the Thumb-Index Web against the corners of the yoga blocks and push them forward so as to open them wide.
4. Have a partner to turn in the forearms (but never the elbows).

Benefits: This helps the shoulders to keep rolling out, as long as they don’t have to roll in for the sake of grounding the Thumb-Index Web on the floor. When all the pressure on the shoulder joints is released, what are normally hard to follow, such as “pushing down the shoulder blades towards the hip” or “widening and wrapping forward towards the front” become easy. Energy flow from the hands up to the body is now possible.

Listen to the Body

Practise more of the drills above until you really press your palms down. Then proceed to a vinyasa – from downward facing dog to chaturanga, and roll forward to cobra. Feel how well your hands can be managed without a partner. Gradually develop the flow. You will soon a thank you note from your wrists, elbows, shoulders, shoulder blades neck etc!

About the Author A freelance yoga instructor, Juvane was first exposed to yoga in 2003. She has maintained an uninterrupted discipline and whole-hearted devotion towards Ashtanga, Yin and gentle Hatha Yoga ever since. She has completed a long list of teacher trainings and workshops with renowned yoga masters from various yoga disciplines. Contrary to many, prior to taking up the practice, she feels blessed to have poor body coordination which opens her eyes to a 3D extra awareness and in-depth detail of how yoga should work with the inner body, mind and spirit. She counts it as a dharma to share these little secrets through easily understood language. For enquiries, please contact her at juvanewoo@yahoo.com.hk.

JuvaneWoo@asanajournal.com'

Juvane

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