Floating, Flying and Balancing: A Guide To Yoga Wrist Care and Proper Alignment


Angela Kukhahn and Marysia Weiss in doing handstand at Yogis Anonymous. Photo by Jim Knowles


How to care for your wrists when practicing yoga. Tips on how to modify your yoga practice to prevent wrist injury and what to do if you have already injured your wrists and still want to practice yoga.

These tips are especially helpful to the yoga student who is interested in inverting, arm balancing or practicing flow yoga.

Do you dream of balancing on your hands, suspended between the Heaven and Earth transcending all reason while mocking gravity? Well, I thought so…but first let’s take a moment to talk about what you are balancing on, your hands and wrists!

TIPS AND GUIDELINES FOR WRIST CARE…

1. Take a moment to look at your palm, the are peaks and valley (the center of your palm is a valley for example, so is the area between the index finger thumb, and the center of the wrist) When placed on the floor the weight should mainly rest on the peaks, or fleshy mounds of the hands, and the rest distributed evenly through the extended fingers

2. The Median Nerve passes through the center of the wrist. It is important not to collapse on a nerve; I think that one is self – explanatory. (I mean it just sounds bad!) To avoid doing this grab the floor with your hands like you are palming a basketball. For most people this requires them to lift the forearms further away from the floor.

3. Never practice arm balances, or for that matter any weight bearing exercises on a soft, squishy surface. Sand, carpet, and super cushy mats fall into this category. Anytime the base of your wrist dips below the fingertips it is in hyperextension.

4. Spread your fingers WIDE apart from the thumb to the baby finger. This will insure that your weight is evenly distributed on your hands, protecting your wrists.

5. Here are some options if you are experiencing wrist problems. If you feel a strain in your wrist, try using a yoga wedge or a slant board to lift the base of the wrist and reduce the angle. The wedge has many uses and can be good for  Wheel Pose (Urdhva Dhanurasana), but I also like using two blocks tipped up against the edge of a wall as well. Also good to try is making fists, using Foam Dumbells, special yoga gloves or alternate Dolphin Pose with Down Dog when your wrists get tired. Of course, Child’s Pose or Cat/Cow are always wonderful options as well.

6. Sometimes soreness in the wrists is due to a lack of conditioning, so take a day off and relax : )

7. Remember to stretch the wrists gently, and perhaps give yourself a mini wrist massage. Yum!

8. Finally, if you have hot, intense, shooting pain you should see a doctor, as much advice as I can pass along it is not a substitute for a qualified medical practitioner.

Happy wrists = joyful arm balancing, inverting, floating and flying!

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