Basic Wrist Care For Yoga Practitioners

Few workouts place as much strain as yoga on the wrists – ask the yoga instructors and practitioners at YogaWorks for confirmation. Many of the poses, or asanas, are performed with the hands and wrists bearing a significant part of the body’s weight. This is particularly true in Vinyasa-style classes where planks, sun salutations, and downward-facing dogs are common poses.  

The wrists are then subjected to extreme stress that, in turn, increases the risk of serious injury. These are delicate joints, after all, with several tiny bones, ligaments and tendons that can become injured with improper care, even abuse. Every yoga practitioner must then take the time to build the strength, flexibility and stamina in their wrists and here are effective ways to do so.  

Practice Proper Alignment

The weight should be evenly spread over the four corners of each palm, namely, the outer heel, the index finger, the pinky finger, and the mounds of the thumb. When only one or two corners carry most of the weight, the wrists are subjected to undue stress and experience pain. The common culprit is when most of the weight is on the heels of the hands.

To correct the misalignment, check that the four corners of your hands are pressing down on the floor evenly. Lift the center of your palms as if these are suction cups – the center rises while the edges stay down. Your fingers and thumbs should be evenly spread such that all ten finger pads are also pressing down evenly.  

As a general rule, your wrists must be either slightly ahead or directly under your shoulders when in weight-bearing poses like plank, handstand, and tabletop.  Avoid placing your wrists behind your shoulders as it will make the wrists extend excessively resulting in strain.

Stretch Your Wrists

There are several ways to make your wrists stronger. First, you can perform the Anjali Mudra pose:

  • Bring your palms together, as if in prayer, and bring them to the front of your chest.
  • Press the heels of your hands and fingers.
  • Slowly draw your hands down until your fingers are pointing toward the floor.
  • Hold the position for 10-15 breaths.
  • Return to the first position and repeat for 10-15 times.

Second, perform a counter stretching exercise:

  • Press the backs of your hands together as if in a prayer position but backwards.
  • Place your pressed hands in front of your chest while your fingers are pointing downwards.
  • Hold the position for 5-10 breaths.
  • Repeat for 10 times.

Most important, you have to modify your poses if you’re experiencing pain in your wrists. You don’t have to sacrifice wrist health for proper form in yoga.  

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