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Over the summer, I fell while I was riding my bike, broke three fingers, and sprained the ligaments in my hand. While this has been a major bummer, it’s also been such a huge teacher for me. I’ve learned a lot about patience and how to be kind to myself. I noticed that even with my Darth Vader hand, I’ve been able to modify yoga poses and be extremely mindful so as to avoid compounding my injury.
Since I’ve received so many questions from other people with injuries about how I managed to get through an entire yoga class, I want to share how I’ve modified a few of the poses I do daily. As always, it’s wise to check with your doctor prior to any physical activity, especially if you’ve been injured.
Instead of Bound Bridge Pose, Try Bridge Pose with Robot Arms
Bridge Pose helps us become more alert in both body and mind, open the chest, and keep the spine flexible. While beginners can practice it safely, skilled practitioners can still experience its many benefits. Bridge Pose will also help prepare you for more intense backbends. Instead of binding my arms under my body in this pose, I protect my injuries with the robot arm variation.
Get Into It: Lie down on your mat with your knees bent. Press down evenly through the four corners of your feet and lift your pelvis up. If you find it difficult to hold the lift in your pelvis, slide a block beneath your sacrum and rest the pelvis on it for support. If you are looking to deepen the stretch, lift your heels off the floor once in the pose, and lengthen your tailbone toward the backs of your heels. Instead of binding your arms behind you, bend your arms at the elbow and hold your arms straight up (robot arms). Press the backs of the arms from the top of the shoulder down the midline to the elbow center. Take 3–5 breaths, then release down.
Instead of Downward-Facing Dog, Try Dolphin Pose
Dolphin Pose is, in my opinion, one of the most highly effective and underused strength and stability-building postures in the yoga practice. I’ve noticed that since practicing Dolphin instead of Downward-Facing Dog to protect my injured wrists and hands, my core has gotten substantially stronger.
Get Into It: Come to your hands and knees. Place your forearms on the mat, shoulder-distance apart. Leave your elbows shoulder-distance apart, then bring your hands together if you can interlace your fingers. If you can’t interlace your fingers, place both hands down, pressing through your inner wrist to prevent your hands from rolling outward. Lift your hips just like in Downward-Facing Dog. Hold for 3–5 breaths and repeat 3 times.
Instead of Plank Pose, Try Forearm Plank
Plank is a pose that many of us do constantly, especially in vinyasa flow classes. I’ve found Forearm Plank takes all the weight out of the wrists and hands and is a little more challenging than the classic Pose. It’s a great way to build strength for your inversion practice.
Get Into It: Begin face-down on the floor with your forearms flat on the floor, making sure that your elbows are aligned directly under your shoulders. Draw your navel in toward your spine and raise your body up off the floor, keeping your forearms on the floor and your body in a straight line from head to feet. Inner wrists are pressing down as you lift your torso up. Try to keep your hips level so you are in one line. Hold for 3–5 breaths and repeat 3 times.
Instead of Side Plank, Try Forearm Side Plank
Forearm Side Plank builds strength in the obliques, and it’s vital for the engagement of the rest of the core. This wasn’t my favorite pose at first, but I’ve noticed a big difference in my posture since doing it over the last few months. Once you lift your body into a straight line in this pose, notice your breathing pattern. Most of the time with Plank poses, we try to “muscle” our way through them. But if we are more methodical and mindful, it’s a more pleasant experience.
Get Into It: Begin in a forearm plank with elbows under shoulders. Draw your abdominals firmly in and open your right arm straight into the air, turning your body to the side so the right foot rests on the left foot. Hold for 3-5 breaths, repeat 2 times, then do the other side.
Hugger Mugger Para Rubber Mat
I absolutely love this mat! It’s been my best road buddy since the tour started. I had been doing yoga for about two years on my “other brand” yoga mat, and was having real issues with my hands getting sweaty and sliding. I have loved using my Hugger Mugger Para Rubber Mat, and I LOVE that we get to give these away to students at our Live Be Yoga Tour events! Thank you, Hugger Mugger, for being a trusty and incredible sponsor of the tour!