The Nature of Hand Positions in Reiki -
In the United States, the preferred Traditional Reiki hand positions [attributed to Takata] are numbered 14. There are 7 on the front of the body and 7 on the back of the body. Some would describe some positions as head positions, thereby leaving a lesser number for the torso. These positions are on the head, neck, chest, solar plexus, abdomen, and hips. There are also corresponding positions on the back. In addition, many times, additional positions on the front and back of the legs are used.
In almost all cases, the breasts on women, and usually on men, are avoided, using what is called the "T" position on the front of the body with a hand on the sternum and one above it across the upper chest. Similarly, the groin is avoided, using a "V" shaped hand position which touches the hips or the torso above the "private" areas. If healing energy is requested to any of these traditionally private areas, it is done by holding the hands about 2" above the body, without direct touch to the area involved. The same approach is used to give energy to the lower spine and base of spine. Either a "V" of the hands near the area, or hands over the area without touch is used. This means that while certain "chakras" can receive direct touch, others, such as the important "root chakra" must get indirect or nearby touch and attention to the hips.
It is interesting to note that in some other countries, one or more of these areas is touched directly, if one is to believe pictures in training manuals and books by noted Reiki Masters, such as Mari Hall RM and Virginia Samdahl RM. Some of Takata's original Reiki Masters are shown giving Reiki to both the breasts, the tailbone area, and close to the groin on the upper legs, or on the groin [this is both for self-Reiki and for giving Reiki to another] to both male and female clients by either male or female practitioners. Recent discoveries of Usui's works also mention that he described using pressure, effleurage [light stroking], rubbing, the use of breath, and tapping when giving Reiki in certain cases. Usui also would give Reiki to a sitting person only on the torso at times.
However, despite this additional information, the only prudent way to practice Reiki in this country is to follow the practices of Reiki touch listed above as preferred in the United States. I suggest that this also include avoiding the kinds of touch that Usui used which are other than motionless. This may help to avoid legal problems, including those dealing with massage in those states in which Reiki is regulated as massage. This is why I suggest a "hold-harmless" agreement or waiver, in which the areas to be touched and the areas to be avoided are clearly spelled out in writing before any Reiki session begins, including how the session will be conducted, with as many questions asked and answered as are necessary to give the client a feeling of safety and propriety. Reiki should always be given in a "safe space", in which both client and practitioner feel that there are no issues to worry about.
[It may be possible to use all of the Reiki hand positions in their original form if one is dealing with one's "significant other", with a very close friend, or, in certain areas of the world, with those clients who have indicated great comfort with direct touch and specifically requested those kinds of original Reiki hand positions and/or use of Usui's "in-motion" touch. Certainly, every Reiki Master should be aware of these original positions, even when they will probably never be used.]