If you are new to yoga or have gone back to yoga practice after some time off, you might notice a lack of strength in your wrists.
I know some of my beginner students will ask me how to the avoid soreness they feel in their wrists; usually after a few Downward Facing Dogs.
For those who don’t know what Downward Dog looks like the above.
It’s an inverted pose (looks a bit like a triangle) that requires you to use all of your body’s muscles to hold yourself up.
The preparation or set-up for Downward Dog is super important. Take your time to ease into the pose; there’s no benefit jamming your wrists in an effort to try and force your heels down onto the mat.
Preparing for your downward dog
Here’s what I recommend for the set-up of Downward Dog.
- Begin on all fours with your knees hip-width apart and your palms on the mat, wrists in line with your shoulders.
- Move your hands forward one ‘hand length’.
- Spread your fingers and press them onto the mat. Think about spreading the weight from the base of your palm onwards and outwards through your thumbs, forefingers and the rest of your fingers.
- Curl your toes under and lift your knees up from the mat.
- Move your chest toward your thighs. Your knees are still bent at this point.
- Slowly straighten one leg, keeping the other bent and swap legs.
- Gradually walk each leg on the spot for a few moments.
- When you feel ready, gently straighten both legs, easing your heels toward the mat. Remember they don’t need to touch the mat.
Once you’re in your downward dog
Once you have eased into the full pose (if I’ve taught you in a yoga class you might think I sound like a broken record) I always tell my students the following:
- Feel like you’re pushing the top of the mat away from you with your hands. This ensures that your directing your weight into your legs and feet; not your wrists.
- Lift through your arms and shoulders to avoid collapsing into your wrists; creating a nice long line from your fingertips, up your arms and along your spine.
- Engage your core by pulling your belly button in toward your spine.
- Imagine spreading your shoulders out to the sides; this reduces tension in your shoulders letting your legs take your weight.
- Look through your feet toward the end of your mat so the back of your neck remains long.
My final tips are to smooth your forehead and breath naturally through your nose; and if you get tired, uncurl your toes, bend your knees and come into Child’s pose.
Why persist with your downward dog?
There are so many benefits to your body and your mind; not to mention being able to open your own jam jar (ladies)!
- Improves upper body strength as you use your triceps, biceps and your upper shoulder muscles (deltoids and rhomboids)
- Strengthens your wrists
- Relieves stiffness in the spine and shoulders
- Stretches out your hamstrings; great for runners and cyclists
- Your head is below your heart which is great for circulation, activating the lymphatic system, and waking you up by increasing the flow of blood to your brain.