As with any kind of exercise there can be moments when our body does not want to be 100 percent and we have limitations. If you suffer from bad wrists or hand from outside injuries or just from practicing yoga, you can modify your routine instead of stopping it. Yoga teacher training makes us aware that if you experience any sudden or lasting pain in your hands or wrists you should stop and see a doctor.
Sun Salutation Poses
In yoga teaching one of the core series in most routines is the sun salutations. Many of the poses that are involved with this series require you to put weight on your arms and wrists repeatedly which can potentially cause some pain or injury. The primary poses to be cautious about are plank, four-limbed staff, upward facing dog and downward facing dog.
Downward Facing Dog Pose
This pose is one of the most common poses practiced in yoga teaching. It has the potential to cause severe wrist pain if you practice with improper alignment. To use this pose correctly, evenly disperse your weight on the palms of your hands. You need to make sure that your hips are far enough up and back to avoid putting too much weight on your upper body. Also keep your elbows straight and avoid hyper-extended them by not locking out at your elbow joint. You can ask in yoga teacher training how to modify and correct alignment in this pose.
With yoga balance is a key element of yoga poses and people who suffer with bad wrists and hand should avoid arm balances and instead focus on those that have you balancing on one leg. Bakasana, or the crane pose, or Adho Mukha Vrksasana, or handstand, places your full body weight on your hands while you wrists are extended. These two facts will affect weak hands or wrists too much.
Partial Weight Bearing Moves
Other yoga positions have effects on your wrists and hands if you do not fully extend your wrists or evenly support your weight. Holding the downward dog pose for shorter segments will help to increase your upper body strength and help you build up to doing arm balances.
In yoga teacher training we learn that no yoga pose is a safe pose for weak wrists and hand if you have the wrong form. Fast moving or power yoga routines do not typically give students enough time to use props or check for proper alignment. If you suffer from wrist or hand problems skip those styles and practice a slower approach such as Iyengar or restorative yoga.
If you are suffering from pain when you are extending your arms, wrists or hands fully during your yoga practice you are not doing something correctly. You need to test your range of motion by practicing some gentle yoga with your upper body. Start with lowering to all fours on your yoga mat. Put your hand under your shoulders on the floor making sure that your wrists are at 90 degrees. Hold this pose. You should not be feeling any pain or discomfort, but if you do you should not do poses that extend your wrists without them bearing your weight.
With yoga teaching we learn how to use yoga props. Using a prop through a specific pose that may cause pain in your hands or wrists will help ease the stress of the pose on that area. Slanted yoga blocks can help reduce the angles of the extension you put on your wrist in poses like handstand, upward facing dog, and slide plank pose. If you do not have a slanted block you can even use a chair. Position the chair up against the wall for safety and this can take significant stress off your wrists.
As with any exercise remember to stretch. If you are doing poses that put extra weight on your wrist joints make sure to stretch the joint. You can hold your left hand with your right hand and slowly and gently pull your hand and arm away from each other. Repeat this on both sides. Another great stretch you can use is to be in a seated or standing position and clasp your hands behind you and roll your shoulders close together. Straighten your arms and hold the stretch for 30 seconds.
Yoga teacher training provides us with tools we need to have a safe yoga practice. If stretching and modifying your poses is not relieving your pain then take a break for a few weeks and allow your joint to heal. Remember to see your doctor if the pain continues.