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Yoga Poses Happy Hands and Wrists

Perform these postures at the convenience of your home or work and help relieve pain or discomfort in your hands and wrists.

Our hands and wrists take a lot of stress in our computer-focused daily lives. Typing and mousing with poor ergonomics can result in discomfort in the hands and wrists. We also frequently ask our hands and wrists to bear part or all of our body weight in our yoga practice when we practice handstands, wheel poses, side planks and chatturangas, which can also lead to fatigue and stress of the wrists.

Try to fully energize the hands, and you should feel any pain or discomfort in the wrists caused by downward facing dog dissipate.

The postures below will help relieve pain in the hands and wrists and help gain the flexibility needed to bear our body weight on our hands. You can perform many of these releases at your desk at work, or immediately before or after weight-bearing portions of your yoga practice, or any time your hands and wrists feel fatigued or stressed.

Tree Pose with Fingers Interlaced (Vrksasana Variation)

This variation of tree pose is a great way to take a break from your workday and stand up out of your desk chair. In addition to lengthening the whole body from heels to the crown of your head, it also is a nice stretch for the hands and wrists.

tree--wth-finger-interlaced

To get into the posture:
Stand with your feet together. Transfer your weight to your left foot, then bring your right foot to the inside of your left thigh above the knee, using the right hand to help it up. Bring your hands together at your heart and find your balance first. Once you feel stable, interlace your fingers, turn the palms away from one another and reach the palms up to the sky overhead. Stay for 5-10 deep breaths, then repeat on the other leg and with the other set of fingers on top.

Helpful Hints:

• Make sure the foot is not touching the knee of the standing leg. If you are not able to bring the foot above the knee, then place the foot below the knee on the side of your calf, or touch the toe to the floor and place the heel on the ankle.

• If balancing on one foot is challenging, you may practice this posture close to a wall to catch your balance.

Standing Forward Bend (Padahastasana)

This posture opens the backs of the wrists, and the feet standing on the hands provides a nice massage for the hands.

Padahastasana

To get into the posture:
Stand with your feet hip bone width apart. Fold forward and place your hands on the floor, palms facing up and fingertips pointing back toward your heels. Bend your knees as much as you need, and walk the feet onto the hands until the toes touch the creases of the wrists. Gently rock some weight forward into the balls of the feet, which are now standing on the palms of your hands. Hold for 5-10 breaths.

Helpful hint:

• If you are able to bring the toes to the creases of the wrists with leg straight, feel free to do so. You can increase the release of the hamstrings by gently pulling yourself in with your hands.

• If you would like to challenge your balance, rock your weight so far forward into your hands that your heels lift off the floor a bit. If you start to fall, step off one hand and catch yourself.

Standing Forward Bend (Padahastasana Variation)

When we flip the hands over in Padahastasana, we get a nice release of the fronts of the wrists.

Padahastasana-hands-flipped
To get into the posture:

From the previous posture, step off your hands and flip them over so palms are facing down, thumbs on the outside of the feet and pinkies on the inside. Step back onto the hands, bringing the toes all the way to the creases of the wrists. Hold for 5-10 breaths.

Helpful Hints:

• Make sure you outwardly rotated the upper arm bones to turn the hands. Elbow creases should face forward. Make sure the elbows do not hyperextend.

• As in the previous variation, if you would like to challenge your balance, you may rock your weight farther forward into the hands so the heels lift off the mat a bit.

Table Pose Variation

This variation of table stretches and releases the fronts of the wrists. It is great for preparing the wrists for the flexibility required for weight-bearing poses like chatturanga, wheel and handstand.

table-top-wrist-release
To get into the posture:

Come onto your hands and knees, with your knees hip bone width apart and your hands shoulder width apart. Turn your palms around so the fingertips point toward your knees; pinkies on the outside and thumbs on the inside. Hold for 5-10 breaths.

Helpful hints:

• If you would like a deeper release, bring your weight farther back toward your knees while keeping your hands in place. This increases angle of the stretch on the wrists.

• Make sure you outwardly rotated the upper arm bones to turn the hands around; your elbow creases should face forward. If you inwardly rotated and your elbow creases point backward, it will feel very uncomfortable on the shoulders.

• Make sure the elbows do not hyperextend, keep a micro bend in the elbows.

Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

How we use our hands and wrists in Downward Facing Dog sets up our entire yoga practice for safe and supported hands and wrists. Too often we plant our hands in downward facing dog with all our weight in the wrist joint, and the hands not providing any support or work. Try to fully energize the hands, and you should feel any pain or discomfort in the wrists caused by downward facing dog dissipate.

down-dog-hands-engaged
To get into the posture:

Come to hands and knees with hands shoulder width apart and knees hip bone width apart. Make sure the middle fingers point straight forward, or slightly out, whatever allows your wrists to be equally creased on the insides and the outsides of the wrists. Walk the hands forward a few inches in front of the shoulders. On an exhale, press strongly through the palms and fingertips and lift your knees off the floor, keeping the knees bent and the thighs close to the belly. With the knees remaining bent, lengthen the spine back and up so you are in a straight line from fingertips out through the tailbone. Energize the hands so you are actively gripping the floor, spreading the weight of your body through the palms, base knuckles of the fingers, and fingertips, creating a little “cup” in the middle of the palms. If you can maintain the grip on the floor and the straight line from fingertips to tailbone, you may straighten the legs and press the heels down toward the floor. Stay for 5-10 slow, deep breaths.

Helpful Hints:

• You can use this same “grip” on the floor in planks, chatturangas, arm balances, and any time you are bearing part or all of your body weight with your hands and wrists.

• If you are used to practicing yoga with little or not engagement of the hands, your hands will get more than likely get fatigued as you try to work the grip in to a full-length yoga practice. Work at your own pace, and the muscles will gradually get stronger.

Wrist Decompression

This is my favorite counterpose to handstand, wheel and side plank if my wrists start to feel overworked. It creates space in the wrist joints after weight bearing poses compress the joints.

wrist-decompression

To get into the posture:
Sit in any comfortable position on a chair or on the floor. Bring both forearms to just below shoulder height, and parallel to the floor. Take a hold of your left hand just above the bones of the wrist with your right hand. Pull your elbows to the right and left, using the right hand to pull the left hand away from the wrist joint, creating gentle traction on the left wrist. Hold for 5-10 breaths, then repeat on the opposite side.

Helpful hints:

• Keep your shoulders softening down away from the ears, do not be tempted to shrug the shoulders as you pull on the hand.

• If you would like a deeper shoulder opener, reach the right arm straight forward from the shoulder, bringing your fingertips to the floor but keeping your palm off the floor.

Finger Releases

These simple stretches of the fingers and thumb are a wonderful break from a long day of typing and computer work.

finger-releases-1

 

finger-releases-3

To practice the posture:
Sit or stand comfortably, lengthening the spine up toward the ceiling and practicing good postural alignment. Extend your right arm straight forward with your palm facing up. Extend the wrist down so the fingertips point down toward the floor. Grasp the right thumb with your left hand and pull it gently down toward the floor and back toward the back of the wrist. Hold for a few breaths, and then do the same with each finger one at a time. Repeat on the other side.

Helpful Hints:

• Make sure the elbow of your extended arm does not hyperextend. If it does, gently engage the bicep to micro bend the elbow.

• You may feel the stretch more strongly in your dominant hand. If this is the case, to help balance out your hands, hold the stretches for long on your dominant hand than your non-dominant hand.

• If your shoulders are uncomfortable or if you start to get tingling sensations in the arms or hands, release the fold of the arms and extend the arms straight out from the shoulders.

Corpse Pose with Sandbags (Savasana Variation)

The weight of the sandbags provides a wonderful release of hands, wrists and shoulders after a long day of work or a vigorous yoga practice. It requires four sandbags and a partner to place them for you for the best experience of the posture.

To get into the posture:
Lie down on your back with your feet mat width apart and your hands around 12 inches away from your sides, palms facing up. Have your partner place sandbags across your upper arm bones perpendicular to the arms, and also covering your hands and forearms parallel to your lower arm bones. Rest for 5-10 minutes.

 

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