Give Your Hands a Hand

Jun 26, 2024

I loved the practice that Dr. Jessica Barudin, Indigenous researcher and founder of the Indigenous Yoga Collective, shared during her recent conversation with Sophie Gregoire Trudeau.

She invited us to do something so simple, yet so profound – to really look at our hands. Not just glance at them, but truly see them. She shared that in her Kwakwa̱ka̱ʼwakw culture, one’s hands are seen as conduits of the heart’s healing energy. She invited us to breathe into our hands as a way of enlivening the flow of our innate healing power. 

In the yoga tradition, hands are one of the five karmendriyas, the organs of action. Your hands are how you reach out to the world, quite literally. When you want to create something new, hold someone who’s hurting, or offer help – it’s your hands that make it happen. They’re the bridge between your intentions and actions.

At a subtler level, hasta mudras, hand gestures and positions, are used in conjunction with meditation and pranayama to affect and direct the flow of energy in the body.

You don’t need any esoteric knowledge, though, to appreciate theses masterpieces of engineering. Evolved over millions of years from the fins of our aquatic ancestors, each hand has 27 bones (together, they comprise 25% of the bones in your body), 34 muscles, and over 100 tendons and ligaments.

Your hands are a marvel, a living testament to your joys and pains, celebrations and sorrows. They’ve accompanied you through it all. They’ve held, created, and touched in a way that no other human being ever has. They tell a story that’s uniquely yours.

Consider this the next time you join your hands in front of your heart, place them on the floor for Downward-facing Dog, or rest them in Savasana. Pause to really acknowledge your hands and all that you can do with them. This simple act of gratitude can deepen your appreciation for your body and spark greater self-compassion in your practice.

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