With proper alignment and practice, the wrists can be strengthened and stretched gradually with yoga. However, due to the weight-bearing role of the wrists during many poses, long-term damage can easily accumulate if alignment is neglected. Always focus on spreading weight evenly through the hand and into the knuckles of each finger. Do not allow weight to exist solely in the heels of the palms or the outsides of your hands. Before starting a yoga program, consult with your health care provider if you have a chronic condition that affects your wrists, such as carpal tunnel disease.
Downward Facing Dog Pose
Downward Facing Dog Pose is a wrist strengthener that also stretches the hamstrings and relaxes the lower back. Start on all fours, with your fingers spread wide and your weight rooted evenly through your hands. Press the knuckles of your index fingers into the floor to relieve pressure from the wrists. Push back so your arms are straight and your sit bones are high in the air, heels stretching toward the floor. Keep your chest broad, and bend your knees slightly if your hamstrings are tight.
Side Plank Pose
Side Plank Pose is an arm and wrist strengthener, as well as a chest opener. From Downward Facing Dog Pose, move your weight onto the outside edge of your left foot, stacking the right foot directly on top. Move your right hand to your hip and open your chest. Your left arm should be straight and just barely in front of your shoulder. If you feel stable enough, lift your right hand up toward the sky. Turn your head up to look at your raised hand, or keep your head in a comfortable neutral position. Switch sides.
Upward Facing Dog Pose
Upward Facing Dog Pose strengthens the wrists, as well as the spine and arms. Start by lying on your belly with your legs stretched out behind you. With your elbows bent, spread open your hands next to your waist. Straighten your arms, being mindful of your spine so you don't overstretch, and lift your torso off the floor. Lift through your sternum and open your chest, keeping your throat relaxed and your shoulders lowered down your back.
Plank Pose strengthens the wrists and tones the abdomen. From Downward Facing Dog Pose, flow forward so your shoulders are above your wrists. Slide you shoulders down your back, and gaze straight down. Your body should be parallel to the floor, with no sagging in the belly or lower back. Tuck your tailbone slightly to engage your core muscles and keep your lower back from arching. Focus on distributing weight evenly through the fingers so there's minimal pressure on the wrists.
Michelle Wishhart is a writer based in Portland, Ore. She has been writing professionally since 2005, starting with her position as a staff arts writer for City on a Hill Press, an alternative weekly newspaper in Santa Cruz, Calif. An avid gardener, Wishhart worked as a Wholesale Nursery Grower at Encinal Nursery for two years. Wishhart holds a Bachelor of Arts in fine arts and English literature from the University of California, Santa Cruz.