Friday, March 12, 2010

Yoga Care for Hands

Here's a mini-vacation you give to your hands as well as to your spirit. You have, no doubt, heard of the different forms of Yoga that provide a full-body and mind stretching and strengthening. This month I was introduced to a form of Hand Yoga, and I share it with you as a way to take a break and soothe those tired muscles and tendons in your fingers, palms and wrists.

Warm-up. Begin by "washing" your hands (no water, no soap, just skin-to-skin), rubbing them together, making sure you gently rub each finger along its length. Count 20 seconds to make sure you've spent long enough. Get everything nice and warm. Then begin the exercise.

Step 1. Place your hands in a classic prayer or honor position--palms together, fingers together, all fingertips pointed to the sky. Make sure that your elbows stick out and press your palms lightly together.

Step 2. Keeping the heels of your hands together, slowly open your hands, starting at the top of your fingertips, slowly down your fingers, finally opening the palm. The heels of your hand are still pressed together and your hands form a "V", your fingers curved slighty backward so you feel a pleasant stretch. After a slow 3 count, bring your hands together again slowly, palms first, then fingers, then fingertips. You are now back to the beginning prayer position.

Step 3. Still keeping the insides of your hands together skin-to-skin, simply spread your fingers so that they resemble a lady's fan, held at a right angle to your body. Give yourself a nice, gentle stretch in this position. Elbows remain sticking out.

Step 4. With your fingers spread, open your hands again slowly, this time starting at the heel of the hand, separating palms next, then fingers, until only your fingertips are touching. Now your hands form an open-air, curved roof.

Step 5. Keep your fingertips touching while you pull all your fingertips together. With your fingertips all touching in the center, your hands form the infinity sign, a figure 8 on its side. Other images are two bird beaks touching, a pair of thick-rimmed glasses, or a mask.

Step 6. Keep your fingertips touching and move your hand back into the open-air, curved roof position of Step 4.

Step 7. Close the space between your hands so that they again form the Lady's Fan of Step 3. Bring your fingers together to return to the beginning prayer position.

Repeat Steps 2 through 7 three times slowly and deliberately. Keep those elbows sticking out. After the final repetition, gently flick your hands several times as if you were flicking water off them. You're done!

Hand Yoga positions, called Mudras, are varied, and a quick search of the Internet retrieved many hand positions that you can hold for relaxing and healing.

Here's to Happy Hands!

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