My grip has been slipping in class lately. I wonder if it is the extra humidity in the room for winter, but whatever the reason, it has helped me to realize how critical the grip is to the integrity of a posture. Without a steady grip, the posture cannot develop and deepen. There is no stability, and without stability, there is no opportunity to push ourselves forward and grow.
I have always been very focused on my grip. I make sure there is a solid intertwine of the fingers and thumbs, all the way to the knuckles. As extra glue, some teachers recommend touching the fingertips of the thumb and index fingers (on the same hand) together to lock the grip in place. I like to do that. I also like to switch up my grip in the second set of each posture. See my post Switch Up Your Grip For a More Balanced Practice for more on this. I think it adds another layer of discipline to the practice, stretches the body more evenly, and creates a stronger grip overall since it works all the fingers evenly.
But even with all that focus, it has become challenging for me to maintain my grip throughout the length of certain postures. It is most noticeable in Standing Head to Knee. When I first kick out, my grip is solid and firm, but by the end, my fingers have sometimes slipped so much that only the very tips of my fingers are still interlaced. Also in Standing Bow Pose — at the start of the posture, I have a solid hold on my leg at the ankle, but by the end, it may just be the fingertips. On the floor, this sometimes happens in Bow Pose and Head to Knee with Stretching Pose.
Today I may have had a breakthrough, however. I began to gently squeeze the tips of my fingers onto the outside of the opposite hand like they were latching onto the hand itself rather than just the other hand’s fingers. In this way, I got the whole hand involved in the grip. I am hoping this will help.
Thinking about my grip in class got me thinking about the grip we take on things in our life as well. In Bikram, the best grip is strong, yet flexible so it can hold the posture steady, but allow it to deepen. Hold on too tight and the muscles won’t relax and stretch as the posture dictates. Hold on too loosely and you will lose the grip and fall out of the posture.
Same as in life. How steadily we hold fast to those we love, and to what we care about helps define who we are and shapes our behavior and relationships. Hold on too tightly and you can smother growth and drive important people and things away. Hold on too loosely and the connection is lost. I love when my practice informs my life like that.
Fellow yogis, how do you get a grip?