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Poses and Modifications for Stronger Wrists

What can I do to strengthen my wrists? When I do poses that require balancing on my hands, my wrist starts hurting and I have to stop. (Yes, I make sure to keep my hands pressed flat to the mat.)

By Aadil Palkhivala

—TLN, Greensboro, NC

Aadil Palkhivala's reply:

Wrist pain is usually caused by two factors, weakness and lack of alignment. To build strength in your wrists, I suggest making a fist and clenching it very tightly. Then rotate the wrist nine times clockwise, and nine times counterclockwise, keeping the fist tightly clenched throughout. Do this very slowly and consciously, focusing on the muscles around the wrist with your mind. This should be done three times each day. After each set of nine rotations, stretch the fingers and thumb apart, expanding the palm as much as possible.

When you are in balancing poses or poses that bear weight on the hands, I suggest that you strongly press the mounds of your fingers into the floor and not your whole palm. Pressing the mounds of the fingers more than the heel of the palm is always the first recommendation I give to relieve all wrist pain caused by pressure. Pretend as if you are taking all the weight on the finger mounds and none on the heel of your palm.

If that does not relieve the pain, then I suggest placing the heel of the palm on a slant board (a common yoga prop made out of foam). Place the mounds of the fingers at the highest edge of the slant board, the fingers on the sticky mat. Always use a sticky mat under the slant board for stability.

When in doubt, rest your wrists. If you work slowly and carefully, you should be able to build the strength and maintain the necessary alignment for healthy wrists.

Recognized as one of the world's top yoga teachers, Aadil Palkhivala began studying yoga at the age of seven with B.K.S. Iyengar and was introduced to Sri Aurobindo's yoga three years later. He received the Advanced Yoga Teacher’s Certificate at the age of 22 and is the founder-director of internationally renowned Yoga Center™ in Bellevue, Washington. Aadil is also a federally certified Naturopath, a certified ayurveda">Ayurvedic Health Science Practitioner, a clinical hypnotherapist, a certified Shiatsu and Swedish bodywork therapist, a lawyer, and an internationally sponsored public speaker on the mind-body-energy connection.

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