Protecting Your Wrists In Downward Facing Dog Pose

 In Poses

Now and again I get questions from those who experience wrist discomfort when stretching in Downward Facing Dog Pose (Downdog).  How can I modify Downdog, feeling a stretch across my body while simultaneously protecting my wrists?  Can I skip Downdog entirely during a Sun Salutation and still receive similar benefits?  Both important questions, given Downdog is one of the most familiar poses used in yoga classes at one point or another.

I am a huge advocate of Downdog; it is an amazingly efficient pose, one that allows you to stretch your upper and lower body at the same time.  I say this knowing that if your focus becomes wrist pain then it takes away from your breath, which is really where I believe your emphasis should be throughout your practice.

Here are some tips I share during my classes concerning Downdog and wrist tenderness: 

Downward Facing Dog Pose

Downward Facing Dog Pose

– If in Downdog, spread your fingers as wide as you can, pressing your fingertips and knuckles into the mat; this helps to protect your wrists by more evenly distributing the weight throughout the entirety of your hands.

– As you come into Downdog, lower to your forearms (possibly placing a block below your forehead for comfort and added support), this will take the pressure off your wrists completely, still allowing you to stretch your shoulders and throughout your back and lower body.  I love this modification as not only do you feel a wonderful stretch, you are strengthening across the backs of your arms and upper back as well.

– Skip Downdog ENTIRELY!  Every time I suggest the next pose be Downdog, it is exactly that, only a suggestion.  A wonderful substitute for Downdog is Child’s Pose.  Child’s Pose is an active pose, allowing you to reconnect with your breath, bringing focus back to your mat and practice.  You can experience a wonderful stretch across your back and throughout your lower and upper body; especially as you “play around” in the pose and explore various options, seeing how your body feels as you make slight adjustments.

Explore each of these possibilities and find what works best for you.  The answer may change from day-to-day, but by being aware of your options you are certain to have a more productive, happy and overall satisfying practice.

~The divine in me salutes the divine in you, Namaste~

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