'In loving someone you give them the freedom to change.'
Begin by pausing. Notice the ease that rests in the palms of your hands. Soften the blanket of skin that rests over the 27 bones in your hands. Breathe. Look at your hands and love the stories you see in the lines of these well-used body parts. Let the cool autumn air travel between your fingers, and feel it like a soft breeze traveling through the branches and leaves of the trees in the forest.
Ground down into your feet. Barefoot is ideal.Take a moment to wiggle each finger, individually, one hand at a time. Notice how some fingers don't like to move by themselves. Feel the texture and hear the sounds of simple movements in the hands. In traditional Chinese medicine meridians, each fingertip correlates with an organ in the body. The thumb connects to the lung. The index finger connects to the large intestine. The middle finger connects to the pericardium. The ring finger links to the triple warmer meridian and the pinky finger relates to the heart.
Can you wiggle your fingers without adding tension to your palms? Notice the subtleties of tension, which exist chronically in your hands. The hands contain one quarter of all the bones in our bodies. Can you soften the tissues in the hands so much that you can feel the bones? There are 14 phalanges (bones of the fingers), 5 metacarpals (bones of the palm) and 8 carpal bones (bones of the wrist). Can you feel them all?
Experiment with how softly you can open and close your palm, without locking any of the joints of your fingers. Think about extending energy through to the tips of your fingers, as if you are palming a basketball without gripping it. Transfer this soft opening of the palms to the way you hold your palms in standing postures, the way you hold your big toes. Really notice if you are holding on for dear life or can you receive the world with your hands.
In beginning to receive the world with your hands, you will start to feel the center of the palm come alive, like a dome or an arch; this is hasta bandha as described in many ancient yogic texts. When the center of the palm becomes buoyant and light, weight-bearing on the hands will distribute its forces through all the bones of the hands, rather than falling heavily and painfully on the carpal tunnelof the wrist.
- Bring your hands together in front of your heart in a namaste or anjali mudra position. Begin by pressing your hands together firmly. Where does the weight fall into the bones of your hands? What is the tone of the skin, connective tissue and bones? How do your wrists feel?
- Bring your hands together in front of your heart in anjali mudra position. This time, begin by leaning the tips of your fingers together. Feel each finger line come alive. Like the arch of a bridge, there is an arch to each individual finger line. Your knuckles may just gently be touching, or not at all. As you lean your fingertips together, feel for a soft hollow arch coming alive in the center of each palm (like there is space between your palms to hold something precious). Where does the weight fall into the bones of your hands? What is the tone of the skin, connective tissue and bones? How do your wrists feel? Imagine how this might transfer to different weight-bearing postures on the hands. Can you rest in downward dog or kick into handstand without collapsing the domes and arches of your palms? Can you feel the lines of your fingers like the legs of a spider, beautifully arched and strong?
Tension in the hands often stems from overuse actions in our daily lives, whether it is the way we hold the steering wheel when we drive, the way we type at the computer or how we chop vegetables. Becoming aware of ease in our hands through the yoga practice can create a chain reaction of shifts, which may (if we let them) transcend into our lives at large.
Give your hands a break. Self-massage the tiger's mouth (the dense tissue between the thumb and fore-finger). Self-massage the webbing between the fingers. Love your fingers and all the little stories the scars and wrinkles of your hands hold. Practice hand mudras softly. Smile, let go of perfection – all our hands are different. Make up your own mudras if you want. In loving our hands, we give them the freedom to change.