We love yoga for what it does for our mind, our spirit, and our body. Many of these postures, however, can put pressure on our wrists. Add that to the many repetitive motions we do on a daily basis in real life, and it’s a recipe for wrist pain.
Here are five great stretches and postures to get your wrists back in shape for your regular practice.
1. Extended Arms
Let’s start with some basic wrist stretches. Stand with your feet hip width apart and extend your arms parallel to the floor.
Flex the wrist of one hand so your fingertips point up. With the opposite hand, grasp your fingers from the side and pull your upward-pointing fingertips toward your body to stretch the wrist. Hold this for 10 to 30 seconds and switch sides.
You can also stretch the wrists in the opposite direction by bending one wrist to point the fingertips down and press against the back of the hand. Again, hold for 10 to 30 seconds and switch sides.
2. Clenched Fists
Sitting cross-legged, rest your hands palms up on your thighs and make fists with both hands. Slowly bend at the wrist, drawing your bent fingers toward your body. Go as far as is comfortable and hold for 10 to 15 seconds. Relax and repeat.
3. Gorilla or Hand-Under-Foot Pose (Padahastasana)
This is one of my favorite postures for overall stress relief as well as to relieve any stress in my wrists. From standing, bend at the hips and bend your knees as needed so that your hands touch the floor. Lift your toes and slide your hands, palms up, under your feet. You want your toes near your wrist creases.
Don’t be afraid to lean forward on the balls of your feet so you’re putting pressure near your wrists. Hold this for 5 to 10 breaths and move the weight around slightly to feel the relief.
4. Prayer Position (Anjali Mudra), or Intense Side Stretch Pose (Parsvottanasana)
This is more of a mudra than an asana, but can be done standing, seated, or even as part of postures like Intense Side Stretch Pose (Parsvottanasana).
Prayer Position is simply bringing the palms of your hands together at your heart center. By pressing them together more or less intensely, you can control the amount of stretch and release in your wrists.
A more advanced posture is Parsvottanasana. With your feet parallel about three feet apart, turn one foot at a 90-degree angle and the other at 45 degrees. Bring your hands together in prayer position behind your back, and hinge at the hips, folding over the front leg. Hold five breaths and switch sides.
5. Cow Face Pose (Gomukhasana)
Though slightly more intense, this pose is a good way to lengthen and open your wrists.
Sitting with your knees stacked one on top of the other and your heels at a comfortable distance from the body, reach one hand extended straight up and the other bent behind your back. Bend the top arm to reach your fingertips toward each other.
If the distance is too far, you can use a strap. If your fingers can reach, gently clasp them and draw them in opposite directions. Hold this for a few breaths before switching sides.
These postures are great ways to stretch the wrists and get some relief from pain. If your wrist pain is chronic, make adjustments in your regular practice to also limit the pressure on your wrists. You may also want to focus on postures that don’t involve putting weight on the hands until you get relief.