Yoga Vita

Musings on Yoga, Life, and the Yoga Life

What’s With the Flying Elbows Namaste?


For real- – what’s going on here?  I always thought that for the namaste gesture or anjali mudra, you just put your palms together and that’s that.  So this elbows-up thing, is it a matter of personal taste?  Is it perhaps more formal, or more feminine?

Maybe you can tell whether one is a Type A or a Type B by the level of uprightness they bring to their elbows?  (Joking.)  And to see my most favoritest example of extreme elbows-up anjali mudra, you MUST check out the first few seconds of this vid:

My, does she have perky elbows.

So any ideas out there regarding proper elbow positioning options in namaste?  (Being kind of a type A myself, I don’t want to be doing it WRONG.)  : )


12 thoughts on “What’s With the Flying Elbows Namaste?

  1. Hmmm… not sure about this? I did have a Kundalini teacher who was very particular about anjali mudra “Press your head straight back a little… now tilt your chin down, now up a little, good! Press your hands together firmly… now press your thumbs into your breast bones spread your fingers apart as far as you can…” I don’t remember her saying anything about my elbows. :S They must have been okay by her. 😉
    Found this article on YJ online… (all it says is feel space under your armpits and align wrists and elbows… what do you think she means by “align”?)
    Anyway, it’s a nice article.
    Sent a friend request to you on GoodReads!

  2. Hi Cara! I’ve wondered about this too, being elbow pusher-outer myself. Like I’m making a triangle between my elbows and the top of my head–that’s the sensation I try for. I feel stretch in the tendons of my wrist and a lengthening of my neck. I guess an opening in my chest, too. I search for sensation in all of the postures, except savasana. I figure if I’m not working, I’m not doing it right. 😉

    I see some doing it that way, but others just taking a more comfortable (?) prayer position. I’ve never asked my teacher.

  3. i don’t know before…..
    thanks for the informations

  4. I’ve never asked my teacher either, I suppose because I hadn’t thought of it as a posture, just a gesture. In fact, I do anjali mudra much like the wai in Thailand. Aha! That’s where I got it from.

    I see there’s also the more asana-like approach of seeking sensation and nice geometry. Hmm. That’s nice too, I think I will try it, but I’ll probably take the more relaxed mudra whilst chanting, etc.

    Shiva Rea in the YJ article seems to be describing something in between. I found it very interesting when she explained that the hands can serve as a sort of stand-in for a shrine when praying! So much to think about. 🙂

  5. flying elbows!! eeek!! This post is really making me laugh for some reason… I think it’s because it’s kind of funny when we step back and look at some of the small elements of the practice. The flourishes. I’ve never done the elbows-out thing, but I’m pretty flourish free in my practice. I’m usually focusing more on my breath and standing up straight when doing the chant… maybe I’ll try the elbows out today.

  6. Liz, you practice in a pretty tight space! Elbows out might = danger.

    “the flourishes”, lol. I guess it is a flourish. It makes it feel dancey, I think. You’re right.

  7. Oh, I never do the chanting, though. :0

  8. Liz–yes, now that you point it out there are a lot of little “flourishes” people like to throw in. Let’s see, there’s also Ballet Hands, the Anatomy Man stance, Mudra Grips. . . Tempting to pick apart but perhaps best to leave be. . .

  9. ha! well, I didn’t mean to mock flourishes. I’ve had this discussion with my boyfriend before- how people’s practices reflect other things in their lives. There’s a woman who trained to be a ballet dancer most of her life who makes all the movements fluid and flowy and always, ALWAYS, has the most pointed feet on earth. Then there’s me, from a martial arts background- my practice is no frills! I would say kind of muscular more than floaty. I love your terms, Cara- especially Anatomy Man stance! I like the “used to do Anusara” approach to all the postures where a backbend manages to creep into them all!

  10. I’ve had teachers ask me if I danced. My first teacher said she can always spot dancers by their upper bodies and arms in warrior 2. We don’t need to be told to get those shoulders away from the ears and roll the chest open–all that stuff is second nature for someone who has danced for years. It’s really not added on as conscious “flourish”, just to be pretty or something. It’s all muscle memory.

    I’m sure I’m not guilty of ballet hands, though! (I’ve broken myself of that habit!)

  11. Hi Cara
    I’m remembering now that my first mysore ashtanga teacher, when I pushed the elbows way out, as the woman in the video, immediately pushed them down to a prayer like stance. He had been to Mysore and studied with certified teachers and what he was telling me to do seemed appropriate to him, rather than the flying elbows I was doing. I don’t even know where I learned the flying elbows, but my first exposure to yoga was not through ashtanga.

  12. Hi! I hate the flying elbows. I think they should relax down against the ribcage so you can feel it move with the breath. Then the shoulders can relax too. I mean, are we trying to strengthen our delts when we are praying? I think not.

    Seems very YJ to me.

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