For most of us, upon hearing the word “yoga,” images of downward-facing dog poses and sun salutations come to mind. But did you know that there are yogic practices intended to exercise specific parts of the body? One such practice is known as hand yoga, and it is not only therapeutic for those of us with tired or arthritic joints, but also for those of us who spend way too much time at the office, on our computers. Musculoskeletal disorders like carpal tunnel syndrome are among the most prevalent medical conditions in the US, and those numbers are only on the rise as each year, as we rely more and more on our computers to get our jobs done. Through the regular, simple practice of hand yoga, we can avoid and allay those joint pains that ail us. Your hands will thank you!
The ancient Indian practice calls yoga poses formed with the hands mudras. You may recall the familiar placement of touching together your thumb and forefinger while spreading the rest of your fingers. This is but one of many “mudras” that can help increase strength and flexibility in the hands. Mudras are as convenient as they are relaxing – you can exercise both hands at the same time, and you can do so while sitting at your desk on break or at home while watching television. While beginners should start with practicing mudras for just ten to fifteen minutes a day, those with more stubborn aches or pains can repeat the practice several times over the course of the day – and for those whose jobs require typing away at the computer all day, regular practice holds useful preventative value. Regular mudra practitioners also profess to have experienced spiritual benefits as well. Of course you can imagine how a break from typing or other physically demanding activity to focus on joint health would help the body recover for a few minutes, but furthermore, those who practice mudras religiously claim to experience spiritual as well as physical rebalancing.
Hand yoga also frequently involves yogic massage. You know that heavenly feeling of relief and calmness you get from a massage at the spa? Massage in hand yoga can give you that same feeling, and it’s easier to convince your friends or spouse to give you than a back or foot massage! Experts suggest the best time of day for a yogic hand massage is at night before bed or before or after your morning shower – whenever you can relax and be comfortable. Like all stretching exercises, the body should be warm to allow maximum range of motion and prevent injury – remember, only go through a range of motion with which you’re comfortable – overextension can lead to injury! You can find both written and video instructions online to try this rewarding and easy practice at home:
Western devotees of hand yoga have combined ancient mudra practices, massage, and strengthening and flexibility practices to give your hands a comprehensive work out. As soon as you catch a glance of these practices online, you’ll want to try them yourself!You’ve never heard of an easier yoga practice or more convenient way to relax and rejuvenate, so give your hands the tender love and care they deserve – we use our hands all day, every day, and they deserve to be taken care of. So try some exercises on your own, find a friend to practice yogic hand massage with, and give hand yoga a try today!
For more information and reading material on mudra practice:
Mudras: Yoga in Your Hands