The Ergonomics of Reiki

Reiki hand positionsWhen I learned Reiki back in 2001 at Kripalu, my teachers, Libby and Maggie, taught us to be mindful of how we, as Reiki practitioners stood during a session. Not that the standing (or sitting) position matters to the flow of energy, rather it matters because a steady, relaxed position allows the practitioner to remain still. In a still and steady position the practitioner then only needs to move when switching hand positions and not because of her/his own physical discomfort.

As I’ve offered Reiki sessions over the years, I have done so in a variety of settings. My preference is to stand for most of the session as I find that the movement of a chair or stool is often loud and disruptive to the client. However, this requires me to be very mindful of how I’m positioning my feet and back as I’m standing. Also, I need to check the height of the table before I start because it needs to be high enough that I’m not reaching too much. When I have to reach in order to get my hands into position, I end up with a lot of back fatigue and I find it difficult to remain still during a session. (As practitioners, however, we need to make sure that a stool or step is available for our clients to easily get on a table that is slightly higher than they might be used to.)

A Reiki colleague once recommended that I think of the standing positions as yoga poses, i.e., that I mindfully place my feet and align my back in a position that I can comfortably hold for at least two minutes. This has been really helpful advice. Over the years, when I have done consecutive sessions without that mindfulness, my back has been painfully tight after a few hours.

Another aspect of the ergonomics of offering a Reiki session is the position of your hand and wrist in relationship to your arm. Some hand positions put a strain on the wrist. As I teach Reiki hand positions in a level 1 class, I instruct my students to modify some hand positions so that the angle of the hand is not so extreme. Again, because this is more comfortable, it allows the practitioner to remain still and steady, therefore not disrupting the client’s experience through the movement of his/her hands. Also, I have found that some hand positions that don’t seem so extreme have actually irritated tendinitis at the base of my thumb. I have had to modify some hand positions at the crown of the head to make sure my wrist and thumb are not at too an extreme angle.

In summary, for Reiki practitioners, I recommend the following steps to achieve healthy ergonomics:

  1. Set up the Reiki table height so that one does not have to reach during a session. This height is determined based on whether the practitioner is standing or sitting during a session.
  2. Position your body, whether standing or sitting, for steadiness and stillness by aligning the feet and back in a grounded stance.
  3. Be mindful of the angle of your wrist. Do not put the wrist in extremely angular positions.
  4. Test your position with a deep breath. If you can take a slow, steady, and deep breath, this is probably a position you can comfortably hold for at least two minutes.