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Healing Poses

Healing poses for those suffering from wrist pain or sciatica.

By Lisa Mulcahy

Being injured is a bummer, but it doesn't have to doom your asana practice. Think of it as a chance to learn more about yourself and your habits. First get yourself to a health care practitioner for a proper diagnosis. Then find an instructor who can help you modify your practice. In the meantime, if you've got wrist pain or sciatica, this chart can help you figure out which poses are good to do and which you should avoid.

INJURYInjury SciaticaWrist pain
CAUSETight muscles can compress the sciatic nerve, which runs from the lumbar spine down the back of the leg to the toes. (If your sciatica is caused by a lower back or disk injury, the recommended poses won't be effective.)Carpal tunnel syndrome, tight muscles, or joint problems. See your health care practitioner for a specific diagnosis.
EFFECTShooting painChronic pain
HELPFUL HEALERSAnkle-to-Knee Pose and Pigeon Pose Forward Bend are both effective because they stretch the hip rotator muscles. Triangle and other standing postures where you're not bearing weight on the hands will maintain balance and keep your lower body strong and mobile.
NO-GO POSESSeated and Standing
Forward Bends
Upward-Facing Dog, Handstand, Half Moon, or any other asanas that put your wrists in an extended position.
ONE MORE THINGIf you're craving a hamstringstretch, do Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe.As you begin working with your wrist again, use props like foam wedges or Gripitz bars (they look like chunky foam dumbbells).

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Reader Comments


A wrist injury and tenderness has altered my yoga practice for months now. My wrists and forearms are the weakest and tightest parts of my body, which I suppose is what a computer desk job does to a person. Was excited when I saw the link to this article, but disappointed when I read it. There are tons of poses that were left out, as were suggestions on how to really work on these problem, chronic areas most of us have.


I had sciatic pain for years while i was doing yoga. ANUSARA is the only thing that cured my pain long term.


Sciatica -
The trouble with this "injury" its not really an injury but more a chronic pain problem. I did the "do" poses above for years with no permanent relief. The practice that changed my pain was ANUSARA. The principals got me to engage where I needed and relax where I was tight. Its really about balance with sciatica, one part is thigh and pulling the low back/hip. Once I learned how to move, I can do any pose. Pigeon can actually make it worse if you are using no muscle energy and you just lay there.

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