Our hands have the ability to hold a sand dollar that we’ve discovered half-hidden at the edge of the sea or a newborn infant that’s just come into the world.
They help us connect with life, and with each other, in the most intimate of ways.
They play such an important part in our daily lives, yet so often we take them for granted.
When was the last time you noticed your hands as you lifted a glass of water to your lips or used a fork to twirl a long strand of pasta into your mouth?
Or when you embraced a friend or shook a stranger’s hand?
Or when you held onto a subway strap or turned a steering wheel or brushed your teeth?
It’s easy to overlook our bodies when we’re healthy, isn’t it?
And it’s especially easy to overlook parts of our bodies, like our hands, and forget the miracles that they let us perform every day (such as typing this blog post).
Our yoga practice can help us become more aware of our our hands and the large role they play in our lives.
After all, we use our hands in every yoga pose, even if it’s simply pressing our palms together in front of our heart in Anjali Mudra, or using one hand to balance on our mat in a twisting lunge as we lift our free hand into the air.
Imagine a handstand without hands to support you, or a Downward Dog without being able to push against the mat.
Hands, like the rest of our body, are part of the miracle of being human.
Did you know that the human hand has 27 bones?
Fourteen of these bones comprise the fingers—the phalanges (proximal, intermediate, and distal)—which we can use to touch our toes in Standing Forward Bend, or help us balance in Triangle Pose.
The other thirteen bones of the hand comprise the metacarpal bones, which connect the fingers with the wrist, and allow us to rise upside down in Handstand, or push ourselves off the mat in Cobra.
Here’s something else that’s amazing: the thumb alone is governed by nine individual muscles controlled by three major nerves.
That may be astonishing, but even more astonishing is that there are thirty-four muscles that move the fingers and thumb. Seventeen of these can be found in the palm of the hand. The remaining muscles can be found in the forearm.
And that’s just the miracle of muscles and bones. There are also forty-eight named nerves in our hands —three major nerves, twenty-four named sensory branches, and twenty-one named muscular branches.
Our bodies are part of the miracle of nature.
Each time I grasp a cup of coffee, caress my wife’s cheek, or use a keyboard to type, I’m relying on my hands to feel or communicate something.
In each pose I try to remember this. I try to remember how lucky I am to have been given the gift of these hands.
Practice Journal: How does yoga help you become more aware of—and grateful for—the miracle of your body? Write: 10 min.