As a Reiki Teacher, I am asked quite frequently how important are the hand positions during a Reiki session. And quite honestly, Dr. Usui taught the positions as a way of creating a standard of applying Reiki. In other words, he made it a systematic form of applying Reiki.
But when you understand the different levels of Reiki, the long distance symbol is given to the Reiki student through their initiation into Reiki level 2. At this level, the Reiki hand positions do not apply since the Reiki is being sent through distant healing.
But if you are to follow Dr. Usui’s guidelines, you would begin at the head, and follow down through the jaws, throat, heart, solar plexus, upper abdomen, lower abdomen and to the feet. However, Mrs. Takata taught her students to go where they are guided through their intuition. Sometimes she would start at the feet, and work her way up, or she would start at the crown and work her way down. She did not have a set standard that she would apply for positioning of the hands.
My students use their intuition for applying Reiki. My rule of thumb is, go where the recipient says it hurts. If your hands feel „glued“ to the spot, then stay there as long as it feels like it needs to. When you feel you can lift your hands easily or they are being pushed away, then it is time to move to another spot. When you become very practiced at it, body scanning will help you determine where you need to begin.