Prevent wrist injuries with these strengthening poses.
Doing yoga puts a lot of pressure on your wrists. Many poses demand that your wrists bear the weight of your body in ways that wouldn’t be natural outside of the yoga practice. Therefore, without the proper support, it stands to reason that practicing yoga without proper wrist stability and strength can lead to injury. The key is to build up the stability in your wrists so you can maintain a safe and effective yoga practice.
Believe it or not, building a strong core is essential to stabilizing your wrists and taking unnecessary pressure of those hands. The yoga poses below demand core stability so you can safeguard your wrists and advance to any pose you set your mind to!
By Ray Long
Happy Baby Pose Variation
Lie on your back with your head about one foot away from the wall, feet toward the center of the room. Raise your arms overhead with your elbows bent and place your palms against the wall, fingers pointing down. Flex the hips and knees to 90 degrees in reverse tabletop position. On an exhalation, use the abdominals to straighten your right knee and lower your right foot toward the floor. Bring the foot back up and repeat on the left side. Do 10 rounds.
Bridge Pose Variation
Begin on your back with your feet slightly wider than your hips and about 4-6 inches away from your buttocks. Let your arms rest on the floor, palms down. Press your hands and feet into the floor. Gently attempt to drag the feet apart without movement. Keep the knees over the heels, engage the gluteus maximus, press into the feet, and exhale to raise the hips. Inhale to lower the hips and back all the way to the floor. Begin with 2-3 sets of 10 repetitions, eventually building to 20 repetitions each set. Rest between each set.
Start lying down with your forearms on the
floor, elbows under your shoulders. Lift your whole body so that it forms a straight line from head to heels. Attempt to drag your forearms toward your feet without movement, while contracting your gluteus maximus slightly to move your tailbone toward your heels. Continue to breathe at your resting pace and hold for 10 seconds. Exhale to lower. Repeat 2-3 times.
Cow-Face Pose Arms
PART I: Reach your right arm up and bend your elbow so that your fingertips point down your back. Reach your left arm behind your back with fingertips pointing up. Use a belt to bridge the distance between the hands. Focus on one arm at a time. Press the knuckles of the right hand into the back, using less than 20 percent effort. Hold 8 to 10 seconds. Then gently pull down on the belt with the left hand to deepen the stretch in the right shoulder. Hold for 30 seconds. Switch sides and repeat with the left elbow pointing up.
PART II: Switch the arms again, with the right on top, but this time focus on your left arm. Gently pull the belt with the right hand to draw the left hand up the back. Once you reach a comfortable stretch, draw the left shoulder back and down. Gently press the knuckles of the left hand into the back. Hold 8 to 10 seconds. Then use the belt to draw the hand a bit farther up the back. Hold the entire stretch for 30 seconds and then switch sides.
Eagle Pose Arms
Sit or stand.
Cross your right arm under your left and wrap
your forearms around each other. Gradually raise
your elbows to shoulder height and draw your left arm toward the right side to enhance the stretch. Gently press your left elbow into the right. Use less than 20 percent effort and hold for 8-10 seconds. Then return your elbows to shoulder height and bring your arms back to center. Hold for 20 seconds, before starting over on the other side. Repeat for 3 rounds.
Warrior II Pose
From Mountain Pose, step the feet about three to four feet apart. Turn your right foot out 90 degrees and bring your other foot parallel with the back of the mat, then turn the left toes in just slightly. Align your right heel with your left arch. Turn your right thigh out and bend the right knee until it is over the right ankle. Press down through the left leg and outer left heel. Raise your arms to shoulder height and reach out through extended fingers, palms up. Draw the shoulder blades toward the midline and down the back. Roll the shoulders back. Flip the palms down. Hold for about a minute before switching sides.
Come into Child’s Pose with your knees hip-width apart or together; rest your sitting bones on your heels and extend your arms on the floor in front of you, palms down. Roll your shoulders out and draw your shoulder blades down your back to engage your rotator cuffs. Keep your wrists straight—don’t deviate to the little finger side. Gently press the mounds at the bases of your fingers into the mat. Note that your wrists lift slightly. This aligns your carpal bones with your radius and ulna. Maintain lift during exhalation and relax on inhalation. You can add very gentle pressure with your fingertips and a slight gripping action with your thumbs, directed toward the little fingers to further stabilize your wrists. Hold for 5 breaths. Inhale to sit up and stretch your right wrist into extension, holding your palm up and gently pulling your fingers back toward your wrist with the other hand. Hold for 30 seconds then stretch the left wrist for 30 seconds.
Downward-Facing Dog Pose
From Child’s Pose, press the mounds at the bases of your fingers into the mat to stabilize and slightly lift your wrists. Roll your shoulders out and draw your shoulder blades down your back. Inhale to lift your hips. On an exhalation, sink your heels toward the floor and feel the muscles of your abdomen engage by drawing your belly toward your spine. Contract your quadriceps to straighten your knees. Finally, attempt to lift the tops of your feet toward your shins, draw your body back toward your heels, and further stabilize your core.
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All images courtesy of Rick Cummings.