Have you ever felt like you could use a little more space (aka freedom) in your yoga poses? Do some of your standing poses feel extra heavy, especially the ones with a hand on the ground? How about your wrists, do they take the brunt of the work in your Vinyasa classes?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you may want to consider practicing on your fingertips in certain poses. Here are three reasons why.
1. Create more space for the torso.
Fingertips act like arm extenders, giving you an extra inch or two between your armpits and the floor—and more freedom in your torso.
Take a High Lunge for example, with your hands on either side of your front ankle: place your palms flat first and extend your heart forward. Notice the relationship between your torso and front thigh.
Now make little tents out of your hands, pressing down through the fingertips and drawing up through the center of your palms. Notice the relationship between your torso and front thigh as you extend your heart forward.
Which way do you feel more freedom in the pose, on your fingertips or with your palms flat? Which allowed for more extension in your spine?
If you found more freedom on your fingertips, try using them in poses such as a Side Angle Pose and Triangle Pose. More freedom in the torso translates to more lift in the top chest, allowing your poses to unfold with more ease.
2. Draw the energy upward.
With the bottom hand flat in poses such as Triangle or Seated Twist, which require an active lift of the torso, the pose often becomes heavy. Students tend to lean too heavily into the foundational hand with the palm flat, sending the energy of the pose down.
Being on your fingertips activates a lift through the center of the palm, forearm, armpit, and core, giving your torso more buoyancy.
Plus, there’s more sensitivity in the tips of your fingers. With your fingertips pressing down, you actually receive more feedback from the ground as you simultaneously draw energy up the fingers and arm.
3. Strengthen your wrists and forearms.
Practicing on your fingertips strengthens your hands, wrists, and forearms—but it isn’t easy. When you first start using your fingertips in yoga, your hand is going to get tired (a good indication that you need to work on hand strength) and will strengthen over time.
As you press your fingertips forward and down, it’s equally important to be drawing your fingers in and up, like you’re making little tents out of your hands. Strengthening your wrists, hands, and forearms will help prevent wrist pain in your yoga practice.
What’s more, practicing simple poses such as Child’s Pose on your fingertips teaches you how to properly lift your forearms, armpits, and core, supporting the front body so that you don’t dump into your wrists and shoulders in poses like Plank that require flat palms.
Next time you hit your mat, play around with placing the palms flat and lifting up onto your fingertips in different poses. Notice which way feels better in your body and offers you more freedom in the pose, and let us know what you discover.