By Noa Glow
When doing Standing Head to Knee Pose, how do I keep my 10 fingers gripped together? I wonder if my trouble stems from weak hands/fingers or slippery, sweaty hands?
Bikram Yoga Vancouver Answers
Lisa Pelzer, owner of Bikram Yoga Vancouver, has this to say about the different hand grips for Standing Head to Knee Pose:
In the dialogue and and as a beginner, it is suggested that you interlock all 10 fingers for a strong grip so your foot does not slip out of your hands. This grip may not work for everyone, so try and uncross the thumbs. Personally, I find this more comfortable.
I have been practicing for 16 years and teaching since 1999 and I find grip #2 works better for me. Since I have been able to kick out and straighten my leg, I’ve found it easier to lower my elbows below my calf when I keep my wrists straight. I find that it puts stress on my wrists when I bend them like in hand grip #1. Keeping my wrists straight forces me to kick my heel forward and use more leg and abdominal strength to balance. This also has the advantage of preparing the body for the advanced variation of Standing Head to Knee Pose which uses only the abdominals to keep the foot up parallel to the floor. The hands are not being used whatsoever to keep the leg upright and the foot flexed.
These observations are what I have found to work best with my practice over time. They also coincide with what I have learned from senior teacher, Emmy Cleaves (Principle of Bikram Yoga HQ), who also stresses keeping the wrists straight in Standing Head to Knee to prevent repetitive strain over time. Bikram Choudhury’s book, Bikram’s Beginning Yoga Class, also includes instructions to place your thumbs on top of your foot in Standing Head to Knee. These are finer details you may want to experiment with as you get deeper into your own practice.
Option #1: Beginner Hand Grips – Fingers Fully Interlaced
Option #2: Advanced Hand Grips – Wrists Straight
Instructions on Advanced Hand Grip for Standing Head to Knee Pose
First, wipe your hands dry before you pick the foot up! Do not try to interlace all 10 fingers under the foot. Interlace only your eight fingers together and place your thumbs adjacent to each other – they will not cross. To prevent your hands from slipping, press your palms against the side of foot.
Here’s the key: if you try to interlace all 10 fingers, you won’t be able to press your palms against the side of the foot, and your wrists will bend. Ideally, you want to keep your wrists straight and parallel to each other by interlocking just the fingers. If you try to interlace them to the webbing, your wrists will bend.
This will be difficult to do as a new student, but if you start with dry hands and don’t rush to kick out you will get it! Remember: this is a practice, not a race. Take your time and be deliberate in your setup and movements and precise with your form before you move on. You may need to develop more strength or flexibility in a certain area of your body before you are ready for the next step. Break down the posture step-by-step, and master each step before moving on to the next.
We’d love to do some more posts on proper hand grips in Bikram Yoga postures! Which posture do you stuggle to get a grip in?