how to use yoga to heal wrist pain

I have a recurring pain in my left wrist. It comes and goes. Sometimes it is so tender that any amount of weight leaned on this wrist makes it feel very sore, almost as if I could sprain it just by doing Downward Facing Dog. 

A few years ago a Reiki Master friend of mine introduced me to Louise Hay's book Heal Your Body. This book deepened my awareness of how mental patterns can lead to physical ailments. It also offers affirmations to help us alter our thought patterns in order to help our bodies heal. 

Every thought we think carries a vibration, and this vibration effects how the cells in our body behave. When we practice thought patterns that are contrary to our well being, our cells cant help but overhear.  

If you have a recurring wrist problem like me it could be that you have a problem with movement and ease. Perhaps you are not being flexible on an issue or situation, or you are just being plain old stubborn about something. 

According to Louise Hay the suggested affirmation is, "I handle all my experiences with wisdom, with love and with ease."

As a student and teacher of Yoga it is important that I view my body and mind as one. If my body is hurting it is trying to tell me something, and often there is a corresponding issue in the mind. I must address both aspects in order to heal fully. 

Below is a short Yoga sequence you can use to heal and strengthen your wrists. I recommend using these postures as well as the affirmation to help resolve address the mental aspect of the issue as well.

Step 1: Mindfulness exercise

Kneel on the floor in Hero Pose (place a folded blanket under your knees if necessary), with your thighs perpendicular to the floor, and touch your inner knees together.

Part your feet slightly wider than your hips, with the tops of the feet flat on the floor. Angle your big toes slightly in toward each other and press the top of each foot evenly on the floor. Rest your bottom between the heals. 

Place both hands flat on your thighs and breath deeply, allowing at least 3-5 seconds for each inhale and exhale. Make sure to pause for 2-3 seconds between each inhale and exhale. As you breath relax the shoulders, thighs and face, but keep your spine straight. 

Focus your attention on your wrists. Your awareness is a powerful tool, like a light shining in the darkness. Give your wrists your full, undivided attention as you breath deeply. 

Ask your wrists simply, "what is wrong? how can I help?" and wait patiently for a response. Be open to whatever kind of response you get from your inner voice. Simply listen and continue breathing deeply and focusing on the wrists. 

 Figure 1: Bring the light of your awareness to your wrists in Hero Pose

Figure 1: Bring the light of your awareness to your wrists in Hero Pose

Step 2: Anjali Mudra

The Anjali Mudra, or Prayer Position, is performed by simply bringing the palms of your hands together at your heart center and pressing firmly. You can control the amount of stretch and release in your wrists by how hard you press your hands together.

I use this almost daily to check in and gauge how gentle I need to be with my wrists that day. Some days I have almost no pain when I do this exercise, other days I can feel the tenderness almost up to my elbow. This is a much more gentle way to test how much pressure my wrists can handle, as opposed to trying to hold my body weight in a pose like Plank Pose. 

Hold this position for up to 2 - 5 minutes while breathing deeply in and out through the nostrils. You can vary the amount of pressure you are applying throughout the hold. You will learn a lot about your body doing this exercise. 

This is also a great opportunity to practice the affirmation, "I handle all my experiences with wisdom, with love and with ease."

 Figure 2: Press hands together firmly in  Anjali Mudra

Figure 2: Press hands together firmly in Anjali Mudra

Step 3: Dynamic Movement 

Spend a few minutes gentle rotating the wrists. When I say gently I mean move slowly and focus on breathing while you move. If you think you're moving slowly enough, go just a little bit slower, that's probably the right speed. After about a minute switch directions and do the same thing, turning the wrists the opposite way.

This increases your body awareness by allowing you to simply focus on how different ways of moving feel in your wrists. You will learn to teach yourself how to breath and move in a ways that make the wrists feel more comfortable. It also increases the flow of blood, lymph and energy in the wrists and hands. 

 Figure 3: SLOWLY rotate the wrists to increase blood flow and consciously explore movement in the wrists. 

Figure 3: SLOWLY rotate the wrists to increase blood flow and consciously explore movement in the wrists. 

Step 4: Extend and Stretch

From Prayer Position interlace your fingers and turn the hands so the palms are facing out, away from the body. As you exhale, extend your arms until your fingers feel deeply stretched. Lift and roll your shoulders back so that the ball of the shoulder rests firmly in the socket. 

Breathe deeply here for at least 1 minute. Keep your attention on the wrists and hands. 

I like using this  exercise before doing Reiki because I feel a strong flow of energy in my hands afterwards! 

 Figure 4: Interlace fingers, lock the shoulders back, and extend through the palms facing outward sending energy to the hands and wrists. Gaze softly in front of you. 

Figure 4: Interlace fingers, lock the shoulders back, and extend through the palms facing outward sending energy to the hands and wrists. Gaze softly in front of you. 

Step 5: Deep Wrist Stretch

Come to hands and knees. Turn the palm of your left hand facing up and the palm of your right hand facing down and point all 10 fingers towards the knees. Press gently into the center of the palms and through each finger all the way to the right fingertips and left fingernails. 

On an exhale, slowly bring your hips back towards your heals, bending the wrists as deeply as your body allows. Hold here for at least one minute and breathe deeply. Do not press directly into the wrists, it is important to distribute your weight evenly through the hands and fingers. 

Please be gentle and if any sharp pains arise back off slowly. If one minute is too long for you to hold, start at 20 seconds and work your way up slowly.

Switch hands and repeat.

 Figure 5: Stretch and strengthen the wrists with this powerful exercise.

Figure 5: Stretch and strengthen the wrists with this powerful exercise.

Step 6: Rest and Replenish

Rest is a vital part of a balanced Yoga practice. Start on hands and knees and bring your big toes together. On an exhale, lower your hips to your heals, part your knees as wide as you want to make this comfortable for you. You may also want to place a blanket or block under the knees to support your.

Bring your forehead all the way to the floor and your arms in at your sides (as in Figure 6) or stretched out in front of you, you can also rest your forearms on your Yoga blocks to allow the wrists to dangle loosely from the edge of the blocks (as in Figure 7). You may choose to recite the affirmation again - "I handle all my experiences with wisdom, with love and with ease."

No matter which variation you choose the key is to relax. Let go of any tension in the hands and simply observe the sensations in the wrists as you breathe deeply. I suggest spending at least 5 minutes in this rest pose before continuing your asana practice or moving on with your day. 

 Figure 6: Rest your wrists in Child's Pose

Figure 6: Rest your wrists in Child's Pose

 Figure 7: Rest and replenish using blocks for support

Figure 7: Rest and replenish using blocks for support

Questions?

If you have any questions or comments about this practice I'd be happy to help! Namaste and happy healing! 

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