Do I Need Yoga Before Yoga?

Do I Need Yoga Before Yoga?

It’s always such a great feeling for me stepping into a yoga studio after a long absence. Feeling stiff in my body, knowing that movement is what I need.

However, after my first class after a long absence, my wrists are KILLING me. I start to notice the pain during class start to creep on the inner part of my wrist, below my palm.

May it be that I need yoga before I even yoga?

Going from no yoga practice, to an hour of flow in which you bear most, or all of your weight on your hands, you demand extension from your wrists.

On a day-to-day basis my wrists spend little time in full flexion or extension, and just how any joint will lose part of it’s range of motion that isn’t used regularly, most people will lose the ability to move easily and safety into full wrist extension.

Julie Gudmestad, a licensed physical therapist and certified Iyengar Yoga teacher, believes that a substantial part of yoga practitioners’ wrist pain is caused by soft-tissue strain that occurs when the ligaments and tendons are forced into extension beyond their customary range.

Increase your wrist extension

Take it from me, you don’t want to have a resolution to go to weekly yoga, and then have to put that goal on hold due to a an achey wrist after your first class.

It’s a good idea before jumping into a yoga flow, especially if you are a beginner, to gently and gradually wok on increasing your wrist extension.

Gudmestad recommends some exercises to help you increase your wrist extension:

An easy way to do this is to put your hands together in Anjali Mudra (Prayer Position) in front of your chest. Keeping the heels of your hands together and your fingers pointing up, gently press your hands down toward your waist. Don’t let the heels of your hands come apart; if you do, you’ll lose the wrist stretch. If you regularly hold this stretch for a minute or two as part of your daily routine, you’ll gradually be able to move the wrists into deeper extension.

I also recommend that beginning yoga students and anyone with wrist injuries or problems begin weight bearing on their arms slowly. Rather than suddenly launching into dozens of Sun Salutations, start by spending a little time almost every day on your hands and knees. In this position, there is relatively little weight on the hands, so the wrists can become accustomed to weight bearing.

Yoga is meant to be a beneficial and healing process, which it is. If you notice wrist pain during yoga class, you can come down from your wrists to your forearms and take a regressed position. Or, work on increasing flexibility and extension before yoga practice.

I plan on working the above exercises into my daily routine to avoid injury and to  continue with my goal of weekly yoga practice.