Mudras: Yoga for your hands
Stiffness, soreness and lack of strength in the hands may be due inflammation, as in carpel tunnel constriction, osteo or rheumatoid arthritis. It can be due to many hours of small repetitive hand movements such as overuse of computer keyboards, or knitting and sewing. Arthritis sufferers tend to also have sore feet in the mornings, stiff knees and ankles on getting up from sitting for more than 30 minutes and hands and feet tend to swell on long car or plane trips. Both hands and feet can benefit from the Pawanmuktasana series of exercises, that can be done sitting down. See
However, additional hand exercises, known as Mudras, can be very beneficial in improving strength and flexibility of the hands and wrist, and can be done in any spare minute during the day. Below is a selected series of Mudras that I’ve found very useful in counteracting the computer cramps!
A. Warm-up exercises
Sitting comfortably in a straight backed chair, raise arms to shoulder height, relax shoulders. All exercises are done slowly with deep gentle breathing. If the arms get tired, pause for 2-3 breaths than continue. All exercises are initially done 3 times, building up to 10 times as hands strengthen.
1. Clench hands in fists, thumb inside hand (breathe in), then release, stretching out the fingers (breathe out).
2. Flex hands up (breathe in) and down (breathe out).
3. Circle hands in (breathe out) and out (breathe in),
4. Circle hands out (breathe in) and in (breathe out).
B. Exercises for strength
1. Ganesha Mudra:
Hold your hands as shown in front of your heart, with your dominant hand nearest your heart. As you breathe in, gently pull on your fingers, as you breathe out relax. Repeat as you breathe in and out. Change hands over (dominant outside) and repeat.
2. Lotus Mudra
Hands at shoulder height, with fingers flexed at shown, breath in. Then open the fingers, with thumbs, wrists and little fingers touching, as shown. Breath out.
3.Gate lock Mudra (Vajrapadahma)
Interlock fingers with palms together , breath out. Then try to pull the hands apart, palms facing inwards. Breath in.
4. Spider Mudra
a) Hands in prayer pose, in front of the heart, fingers together, breathe out. Spread the fingers and breathe in.
b) Hands in prayer pose, in front of the heart, fingers together, breathe out. Use the fingers to push the palms apart, breathe in. This can also be done starting with hands flat on a table.
C. Flexibility and strength exercises
1. Garuda Mudra
Place your hands apart in front of your face, thumbs up, then bring them together, linking the thumbs. Lower to chest height and breathe gently as you pull the thumbs apart and open and shut the fingers
Then with thumbs still linked, form fists. Open (breathe in) and close (breathe out) fists .
2. Thumb and Single finger flex
Use the thumb to hold down each finger in turn. Keep the other fingers as straight as possible. You can hold them straight with the other hand. Hold for 3-10 breaths When flexibility improves, do this with both hands simultaneously.
3. Finger tip flex
Press the tip of each finger with the thumb as shown, keeping the other fingers straight. Again, you can hold them straight with the other hand. Hold for 3-10 breaths When flexibility improves, do this with both hands simultaneously.
4. The Chapel: Building a roof
Interlace the fingers, then point index fingers and thumbs as shown. Hold for 3-10 breaths. Then add middle finger, then ring and little until all fingers are upwards. Return to interlaced to relax fingers.
D. Relax the hands
Finally, shake your hands gently, hug and shrug your shoulders, then sit with your hands in your lap, palms up as shown. Close your eyes and breathe quietly for a few minutes, making sure no tension remains in your hands, arms or shoulders.
All Mudras adapted from the book....