Yoga requires a lot of our wrists and hands. Not grabbing or picking things up like we do in daily life, but a lot of weight-bearing activities on our hands and wrists. If that’s an arthritic hotspot for you, that’s a problem.
The infographic above covers a bunch of ways you can still practice yoga with arthritic hands or wrists.
Modifications for yoga with arthritic hands
- Option #1 – Change the angle of weight bearing on your wrists. You can do this with a wedge or by folding back the front edge of your mat.
- Option #2 Take the weight off the palms. The first picture shows cupcake hands which requires some arm strength but provides a nice practice variation. Coming to your fists prevents any strain from finger extension. Moving out of all fours in either of these adaptations is more problematic. Down dog in cupcake hands is very demanding of the fingers and requires quite a bit of strength. Staying on your fists in Down Dog is not proper alignment for wrists and you shouldn’t do it.
- Option #3 – Remove the hands and wrists from the equation. If you come on to the forearms, the hands and wrists are non-weight bearing. Your placement with your hands is up to you based on what feels good and where you’re going as you move through your practice. Note that coming up into a forearm down dog (dolphin variation) requires a lot of upper body strength and length in the triceps which women tend to lack. It’s a great way for us to practice because of those points but respect yourself and build up slowly.
- Option #4 – Prop the forearms to keep your back level. This is kinder to the hips, less weight-bearing in the elbows and builds a different level of body awareness.
I hope these variations provide you some practice options. Arthritis in your hands and wrists doesn’t have to keep you from practicing. Yoga for arthritic hands is possible, as long as you can take a moment to pause and focus on yourself. I speak from experience. Namaste.
If you’d like videos on yoga for arthritic hands, I produced two in honor of Arthritis Awareness Month. One focuses on strengthening your hands despite arthritis and the other focuses on improving their flexibility and keeping your brain engaged in your practice, watch my two videos for yoga for hand arthritis.
My journey with arthritis in my thumb
Another option for yoga for arthritic hands and wrists is to take your yoga practice into the pool.
Yoga in the pool doesn’t require weight-bearing in your hands or wrists. The buoyancy of the water also offloads weight from sore joints anywhere.
Living with multiple kinds of arthritis personally, aqua yoga for arthritis isn’t just a professional interest, it’s a personal journey.
Aqua yoga is what I use to
- stay out of pain
- keep my muscles strong despite my eroded joints
- stay flexible with the support of the water so I don’t strain damaged connective tissues
- keep my stress in check because you better believe Covid-19 increases stress
- keep my outlook positive because arthritis can bring you down
And I’ve helped hundreds of other people to do the same thing locally. You may not have access to an aqua yoga teacher or you might be locked out of your classes right now. That’s what the Aqua Yoga for Arthritis course is for.
To make this happen you get immediate access to:
- 11 videos including a full 45-minute professionally produced practice class and a 30-minute discussion on how the other 7 limbs of yoga can help you
- 30-page course workbook for the days you can’t make it to the pool
- a guided meditation for pain relief to use anytime
- an audio recording of your practice class to download to your phone so you practice along in the pool
- a PDF with full directions from the class so you can laminate a waterproof poolside copy
And what makes this a course and a real learning opportunity, not just a video to gather dust, is the private session you get with me. We’ll spend half an hour customizing the class for your kind of arthritis and your needs, so you’ll always have a way to practice that’s best for you. I’m looking forward to working with you.