Hands Up! 5 Simple Hand Alignment Tips to Save Your Wrists

Many dedicated yogis experience wrist pain at some point in the journey of their practice. Every day I see people on their mats trying to grimace through the pain and I want you all to know it is NOT necessary! Our yoga practice should make our bodies feel spacious, energetic and alive, not full of pain.

The majority of yoga injuries can unfortunately be attributed to poor alignment. When we use poor alignment in postures we practice frequently, we weaken and stress the joints. Conversely, when we use proper, active alignment in the same poses, all of a sudden the pain subsides and the joints and muscles begin to work in harmony.

When we use our hands in poses like downward dog, plank pose, bakasana (crow pose), and handstand, we are essentially turning the function of our skeleton upside down. Our shoulders become our pelvis and our hands become our feet, and our relatively tiny wrists take the weight that our much larger, stronger ankle joints would normally bare.

Here are 5 simple alignment cues to end wrist pain. Starting in your downward dog pose:

1. Look at your hands. Make sure they are at least as wide as your shoulders.

2. Make the creases of your wrists parallel with the top edge of your mat.

3. Spread your fingers evenly and think of pointing the space between your index and middle finger straight forward.

4. Press your finger tips into the mat; feel like you are clawing the mat.

5. Finally,  press down at the base of your index finger and thumb.

The more active your hands become, the more weight you will take out of the wrists and you will actually strengthen the muscles in the hands and forearms, upper arms, shoulders and even your core. It is all connected! The more you practice this technique, the easier it will become.

Crow Pose (Bakasana) | Do Yoga With Me
Now try your bakasana (crow) with this technique in mind. Start from a low squat with your feet grounded and spine long (malasana). Now place your hands to the ground shoulder distance with the 5 tips listed above. Especially find that connection with the base of the index finger and the thumb. Then transfer your weight forward bending your elbows back behind you placing your knees to your upper arms. Hug into your midline: inner thighs drawing in and belly button to spine. Feel light from your core. Energize your feet by spreading your toes. Feeling active in both feet and hands will lighten the pose and then you can fly!

Have fun and enjoy a new, pain-free practice. I’ll see you on your mat!

- Jacci Collins is a yoga instructor, dancer and blogger living in Vancouver, BC.  A lifelong student of yoga, she strives to find balance in the body and mind with humor and grace.  Join her at www.jaccicollinsyoga.com, facebook, and twitter.