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Basics: Warm up and strengthen your wrists for pain free yoga

Warm up and strengthen your wrists

Warm up and strengthen your wrists for pain free yoga

Do you feel pain in your wrists after a few downward facing dogs or even after the class?

Do you know that you shouldn’t??

When you first start yoga, you might not get told how to warm up or strengthen your wrists, and it might not come up so much either if you start with gentle or yin yoga. However, if you then move towards Vinyasa, Power or Ashtanga classes, you might find that you start to experience pain during the Vinyasa movement or after arm balances, as only two examples!

When I was sixteen, I tripped over my enormous platform boots and smashed my wrist up. Bones out of place, lots of little breaks, not very nice.
An operation and several weeks later and I was ‘better’ but I struggled to get proper movement and strength back in that left hand again.

Fast-forward (nearly!) ten years and I started practicing Ashtanga. I knew pretty quick that the left hand wasn’t good enough and I needed to do something about it. Luckily I had some great teachers who taught me a few things, and I want to share them with you too.

Click here to access the full video!

Forearm strengthening – arm flexors

Strengthening your arm flexors won’t just support your yoga practice, you’ll also find yourself stronger to do daily activities like opening jars! Now I can buy jars of olives and Nutella without getting them stuck and leaving them on the shelf until someone visits me! Your grip will improve too and your downward-facing dog will be so much stronger – you’ll be holding it all day!

Strengthen your arm flexors


How? Make fists! Arms reaching straight ahead, tighten your hands into fists then open them again. Go for ten! Reach your arms above your head, close your fists then open them again! Go for ten! Reach your arms out to the sides, close your fists, open them again AND go for ten! You might already feel your arms already which means it is working!

Want a bigger challenge? Go faster!

Strong arms – strong wrists! When they both are strong, you’ll be one step closer to mastering Chaturanga Dandasana or downward-facing dog. And your wrists won’t hurt! Yay!

Strong arms lead to strong wrists!
Strong arms lead to strong wrists!

Why do we need wrist flexibility?

Handstands, wheel, crow; all these things need a degree or wrist flexibility. Table top, happy cow, baby cobra; all these things need a degree or two of wrist flexibility too!

Once upon a time in Hoi An, I was practicing with my non-yogi mum and it honestly floored me just how inflexible her wrists were and it made me consider how much more difficult some poses would be, if they were achievable at all, if we don’t have reasonable flexibility in our wrists. My goal is to be able to practice yoga comfortably and freely – I hope it is yours too! – and for that, we need good, healthy wrists.

Wrist warm up

How? There are so many different things you can do to warm up and strengthen your wrists for pain free yoga. Start in a table top, fingers pointing towards the top of your mat and the thumbs pointing towards each other. Arms straight and shoulders away from your ears.

Start moving in circles clockwise, keep the arms straight. The more you lean in, the more intense the stretch, you decide. You have nothing to prove, this is only a warm up. After 30 seconds, change direction.

Next, turn the fingers to point towards the centre of your mat, thumbs point towards your knees. This time, try to accentuate the left to right movement. Again, start some slow circles clockwise for 30 seconds, then change direction.

Another variation, each one a little different to the last so we target the whole wrist, is to point the fingers towards the knees, thumbs out to the sides of the mat, and start moving backwards and forwards, trying to bring your sitting bones to your heels. It doesn’t matter if you make it or not. To make this less intense, baby step your knees forwards towards your hands. To make this more intense, baby step your knees away from your hands.

Why should you incorporate a wrist or joint warm up into your practice?

Two words: synovial fluid. This fluid is a thick liquid that lubricates the joint and allows for ease of movement AND it helps to protect the cartilage, which protects your bones, which are your joints! This fluid is released when we move on it’s own BUT doing a joint specific warm up before we start putting movement on those areas means they are ready to go when the class begins, and more lubricated joints means reduced joint pain! Joint pain is horrid and prevents people from doing all sorts of things that they enjoy like running, dancing, jumping and YOGA – all sorts of movement-based activities! So warm up, damn it!

This might seem small and insignificant, but let me tell you when I first went to India and practiced for 6 hours a day, this SAVED my joints. My wrists have never been stronger.

Want to see how it’s done? Click here for an instructional video on wrist warm ups.

Let me know how you get on in the comments OR go to the Facebook page and let it be know there!

See you next week!

Lolli the Yogicorn



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