The Subtle Power Of A Positive Hand Gesture

Written by Rebecca Seed

Last week I was pulling into the precarious parking lot of my yoga studio. It involves driving up a steep ramp and often waiting for a space, or even waiting on the hill for a car to squeeze its way past you on its way out.

As I arrived, a woman in another car was leaving, but she clearly had a hard time getting out of the lot. I saw she needed more room, so I backed down the ramp. She gave me a dirty look and swung her fists in the air in a supremely pissed off fashion, visibly irate at the parking situation and whatever involvement she assumed I had to do with it.

All I could think was, You just came from a YOGA class?!

Once I was in amazing YogaWorks teacher Sara Ivanhoe’s vinyasa flow class, all the stars aligned. Sara has a way of saying just the right thing, and her message on this day was particularly poignant.

We were about to do Parsvottonasana, or intense side stretch pose. Oftentimes we do this forward bend with our hands in reverse prayer. But for some, that’s too harsh on the wrists, so the modification is putting your hands in fists behind your back.

But on this day, Sara asked the class to avoid that modification. “A hand gesture says a lot, and a fist can symbolize a lot of negativity,” she explained.

Sara suggested for those who couldn’t do reverse prayer to do prayer with their fingers pointed down instead.

I couldn’t believe it! Had she seen angry woman too? Probably not. Yoga works in mysterious ways.

I don’t know if I’ve ever smiled during Parsvottonasana before, but I definitely did that day. Sara completely eradicated any icky feeling I still had from the parking lot experience.

Getting a fist thrown in the air at you will stick to your insides, and allow so much negativity to seep in. That one gesture.

Shouldn’t we be putting our hands together in prayer as we pass other students leaving the yoga studio? I think we’d all walk around carrying more inner peace if that were the case.

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