Yoga Tutorial: Handstand Hand Grip

The Ideal Hand Grip To Use In Yoga, Handstands and Arm Balances

Handstand and Arm Balance Hand Grip in Yoga
When it comes to handstanding or arm balancing you hear yoga teachers cue “Spider Fingers” or “Hasta-Bandha”. This isn’t always accessible for newer yogis as it’s not an intuitive hand grip and the FOCUS is not often explained. Depending on the hypermobility of your joints, your hand grip may or may not look like spider fingers! You can have dramatic fingers and still have improper weight distribution and activation in the palms that cause instability. For me, they do look likes spider fingers but that’s because I’m hypermobile!

A Strong Hand Grip is in a Closed Fist

Just look at the way I point. But often I find that we get lost in trying to create this shape without proper understanding of what the action does. It’s not the spider finger shape that does the job, it’s what’s happening in it that makes for efficient hand grip. The thing that yoga teachers do not explain is – your grip is actually the strongest when your hands are in closed fist. This pushes blood away from hand and activates the muscles of your forearms and allows for better weight bearing. As your fingers open, your grip gets compromised. It doesn’t mean you cannot train in these “open” positions – it just requires more work.

Activate Your Spider Fingers or Grip a Basketball

So “spreading your fingers wide” isn’t the most efficient way even if you can still handstand. Your fingers should be spread naturally, enough to increase the surface area of your hand , which makes balance easier. But, if you spread too much, you compromise your ability to push into the ground optimally, fire up your forearm muscles and other muscles (and joints!) have to work harder to compensate. Some people tend to think of gripping a basketball but only the finger pads and heel of the hand are on the ground. The 1st and 2nd knuckle mounds are lifted. Spider fingers happen when you’re trying to pull the back of hand towards the wrist as if you’re trying to make a fist, another way to think about it is as if you’re wrinkling your mat between your hands.

This grip gives 3 points of contact: fingertips, top of palm, and heel of palm. It engages the muscles of the hands, forearms & bicep thereby creating more stability. The top of the palm is primarily your thumb and forefinger mound. At the centre you get a subtle sensation of your palm lifting up, like a suction cup. This engagement creates arches in your hand, which opens up the carpal tunnel, alleviating pressure on the nerves, giveing you support and stability to weight bear and handstand or arm balance more safely and efficiently!

Yoga tutorial:Handstand and Arm Balance Hand Grip in Yoga

About the Author

Kathy is a founder and co-director of Urban Yogis. Her training background includes Thai Massage, Reiki, STOTT Pilates, Structural Integration by Anatomy Trains, and she is now in the midst of completing her Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy Practitioner Training with Body Intelligence. To learn more about Kathy, visit our About page.

Kathy Gabriel Urban Yogis

Leave a Comment