I just got back from teaching yoga in Mexico a couple of weeks ago and had an amazing time. It’s refreshing to step out of my normal teaching environment and try something new. I also don’t teach a lot of yoga anymore – so it was very refreshing to teach 2x a day again.
One of the things I like about teaching classes to people on vacation is that I always get some brand new beginners. It’s nice to have people come that have never tried yoga before and are being more adventurous because they are on vacay! One of the things I’ve noticed over the years is that many new beginners don’t stick with yoga if they have weak wrists. I tend to teach a vinyasa flow style class and it can be a little straining on your wrists with all of the sun salutations, inversions and flows. So, I wanted to share some alternative poses and tips if you have a hard time doing yoga due to weak or injured wrists. If you ever take a class and something doesn’t feel right – don’t be afraid to speak up and ask the instructor!
High Plank -> Forearm Plank
In a vinyasa flow class you will be doing variations of sun salutations and that means beginning in a high plank (or top of your “pushup”) position before you start your salutation: chaturanga, upward facing dog and then downward facing dog. In addition to the flow of class – you may have to hold your high plank longer and engage your core. You can get the same benefits just by lowering down to your forearms. You will still be working your core just as hard.
Downward Dog -> Dolphin
Downward Facing Dog is actually considered a “resting” pose in yoga and depending on your instructor and class style – you may be holding this pose for awhile and not just as part of your vinyasa flow. In this pose – you are making an upside-down “V” shape with your body with your hips at the highest point. Your arms are straight and you are on your wrists. So, it’s natural for your wrists to feel some pressure – especially if you have a few pounds to lose. If your wrists start to bother you, you can hold your down dog pose on your forearms – just like “dolphin” pose. Your hips will still be the highest point and you will get the benefits of the down dog inversion but just on your forearms. Also, it’s completely acceptable to just drop down to child’s pose if you need to give yourself a break.
Chaturanga -> Chaturanga On Knees
The chaturanga is a difficult pose to master in yoga because it requires proper form and upper body strength. It’s also very hard to do from plank position because you are using your triceps which are smaller muscles than your chest, shoulders or back. I usually recommend that beginners do their chaturangas on their knees anyway to build up their strength and form. If your wrists bother you, you can take some of the pressure off by just coming to your knees (like you are doing a pushup on your knees). Just keep your wrists right under your shoulders and try to keep your elbows glued to your sides. By being on your knees, you will not be placing as much of your body weight on your wrists. You can check out my blog post here with a step-by-step on how to chaturanga.
Grasshopper -> Grasshopper with Block
There are many other poses in yoga that require you to use your arms and press your palms into your mat – thus putting pressure on your wrists. One of these is grasshopper pose. Many people lack the flexibility to lower down to their forearms while in this pose but have a hard time just holding themselves up with their arms. A better way to do this is to use a block under your wrists to lengthen your arms (so you aren’t putting as much pressure on them) or you can use the block for your forearms so that you don’t have to come all the way to your mat.