Desk Yoga for Your Hands and Wrists
Use hand mudras to save your hands and wrists from overuse.
We are a culture of typists and texters. We’re always looking down at our phones or computers, using our hands with quite remarkable dexterity. But we tend to use our hands and arms in the same ways over and over again, leading to overuse issues like carpal tunnel syndrome.
Just like with any other part of our body, a little strengthening and stretching can go a long way toward helping to keep our hands and wrists healthy and well. The hand mudras are a form of yoga that involves creating shapes with your hands, and some of them are fantastic for a life of typing and texting. Here are a couple of my favorites:
Interlaced finger stretch
This is a simple stretch that’s helpful for the hands and wrists, and has the added benefit of stretching the neck and back.
Interlace your fingers in front of your heart. Flip the palms outward and stretch forward, rounding your back and letting your head drop. Then inhale and send your hands up to the sky, lifting your chest and chin up. Release as you exhale, then repeat, switching the grip of the interlace so the other hand is on top.
This mudra is said to help balance the right and left halves of the hemisphere, so can be great for balance and for thinking. Doing it in movement helps improve finger strength and dexterity. Plus you get to look like Mr. Burns when you’re doing it.
Bring your hands together in Anjali mudra, or the prayer shape. Keep the fingers touching but slowly open the palms and wrists until you have created a globe shape with your two hands. This is Hakini mudra. Then bring the fingertips slowly together as if they were all magnetized toward a single grain of sand. Slowly open them up again and return to Hakini mudra. You can do this a few times—it might help you think through a problem.
Earth, Air, Fire, Water, Space Mudras
This little sequence wakes up the small muscles in each finger and stretches them all out. It’s excellent for typing.
In yoga, each finger represents an element. The thumb is fire, the first finger is air, the middle finger is space, the third finger is earth, and the pinky is water.
Hold your palms facing up in front of you. Tuck your first fingernail into your thumb as if you were about to flick someone. Use the pressure of the first finger into the thumb pad to stretch out the other three fingers. Repeat with the middle finger, then the ring finger, then the pinky.
Return to the first finger and tuck it under the thumb (Vayu mudra for air). Turn the right palm to face down at your heart and the left palm to face up at the belly button. Line up the hands and bring them together so that the long fingers touch and you are stretching the soft parts of the wrists away from each other. Repeat with the opposite hand on top.
Start by wrapping your right hand around the thumb of your left hand. Stick your right thumb up like a thumbs-up. Stretch the left thumb back and wiggle the fingers of your left hand—this is great for texting.
Then come into the mudra: bring your extended left fingers together to create a flat of your left hand. Close your right fist against the flat of your left hand and try to touch your right thumb pad to your left middle finger pad, creating the shape of a conch. The conch is blown to open the temple gates or, metaphorically, the gates of the heart. Bring the mudra to your heart and take a deep breath. Repeat with the opposite hand.
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