Wrist Pain In Yoga? Try This Sun Salutation Variation (Photo Tutorial)

Tonya Wetzel
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From Down Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) to arm balances to repeated Chaturangas, our hands and wrists take a lot of strain from yoga. If you have wrist pain in yoga, this Sun Salutation variation will be your new best friend.

Although our hands are close in size to our feet, they are structurally different and not really designed for repeated weight-bearing.

If you have wrist pain in yoga, this Sun Salutation variation will be your new best friend.

Strength training and proper alignment will avoid most injuries, but sometimes our hands or wrists need rest – particularly if you have underlying issues such as carpal tunnel, arthritis, or trigger finger.

Participating in any yoga class, particularly Vinyasa or Ashtanga styles, can be difficult when you need to give your hands and wrists a break.

Reduce and Prevent Wrist Pain With These Stretches and Techniques (Video Tutorial)
 
 

If You Have Wrist Pain in Yoga, Try This 10-Step Sun Salutation Variation for Your Hands:

If you have wrist pain in yoga but love Surya Namaskars, then try this Sun Salutation variation to keep weight off your hands so you can still get all the yoga goodness you need.

Do Your Wrists Hurt In Yoga? Here’s How to Modify 5 Common Yoga Poses for Wrist Pain
 

1. Mountain Pose (Tadasana)

Mountain Pose

Let’s try it:

  • Stand in the center of the mat with your feet hip-width apart
  • The sides of your feet should be parallel to the long side of the mat
  • Distribute your weight evenly across both feet
  • Align your shoulders and hips over your feet
  • Lengthen your spine from your tailbone to the crown of your head and broaden across your collar bones
  • Release your arms to your side with your palms facing forward
  • Extend your fingers

 

 
 

2. Upward Salute (Urdhva Hastasana)

Upward Salute

Let’s try it:

  • Use your core muscles to maintain your alignment and weight distribution from above
  • Inhale and sweep your arms up overhead
  • Gaze up toward your extended hands
  • Your palms can be touching or stay shoulder-width apart

 

3. Standing Forward Fold (Uttanasana)

Forward Fold

Let’s try it:

  • Exhale as you fold forward, hinging at your hips
  • Bend your knees as needed
  • Actively press your feet into the ground, lift your sit bones up, and slightly internally rotate your thighs
  • Engage your quadriceps to help release your hamstrings
  • Release tension in your neck and gaze toward your shins
  • Rest your hands gently on the outside of your ankles or shins
  • Option to grab opposite elbows like you would in Rag Doll (Baddha Hasta Uttanasana) to prevent any weight from transferring into your hands

 
Don’t Forget About Sun Salutation C! Here’s a Refresher of How to Practice (Photo Tutorial)
 

4. Half Lift (Ardha Uttanasana)

Half Lift

Let’s try it:

  • Inhale as you lift your torso, lengthen your spine, and flatten your back
  • Slide your hands up on to the outside of your shins as you lift your torso
  • Gaze toward the floor
  • Bend your knees slightly as needed so you can flatten your back
  • Option to keep ahold of opposite elbows to prevent shifting any weight into your hands or wrists

 

5. Sit on Your Knees

Sit On Knees

Let’s try it:

  • Use your core for stability as you bend your knees, bringing them all the way to the ground
  • Land with your knees hip-width apart
  • Keep your toes curled under, or place the tops of your feet on the mat, whichever feels more secure
  • Make fists with your hands and place them on your hips, keeping your elbows wide and shoulders relaxed
  • If you need to set your hands on the ground briefly for balance, use just your fingertips
  • Maintain core engagement and a long spine

 

6. Camel (Ustrasana)

Camel

Let’s try it:

  • Lengthen through your sternum as you roll your shoulders back and gaze up toward the ceiling, creating a small backbend
  • Keep the back of your neck long to prevent any scrunching in your shoulders
  • Lift your pelvic floor and press your hips forward, keeping them stacked over your knees
  • Leave your hands on your hips

 
 

 
 

7. Boat Pose (Navasana)

Boat

Let’s try it:

  • From Camel, lift both shoulders simultaneously to return to a kneeling position
  • Cross your ankles, and send your hips back until you find a seat
  • Lean back until you are balanced on your sit bones and tailbone
  • Extend your feet and arms forward finding Boat Pose
  • Engage your core by pulling your navel and sides in like cinching in a corset
  • Lengthen your spine, lift your sternum, and broaden across your collarbones
  • Hold for up to five breaths, or for as long as you would in Down Dog in your traditional Sun Salutation flow

 

8. Prep to Stand Up

Prep to Stand

Let’s try it:

  • Bend your knees and place your feet on the mat close to your groin
  • Send your knees wide and lean your chest forward through your knees as you inhale
  • Extend your arms straight ahead with your palms facing each other
  • Keep your shoulders relaxed and your neck long

 

9. Stand Up

Let’s try it:

  • Lean forward a bit more and use the motion to help you return to a Standing Forward Fold (Uttanasana)
  • Separate your feet hip-width apart, with the outsides of your feet parallel to the outside of the mat
  • If you have trouble standing up, you can get a bit of momentum by tucking your knees in a ball, rocking back and then rock all the way forward and up onto your feet
  • Once standing, your arms can rest on the side of your ankles or grab opposite elbows

 

10. Finish as You Normally Would

From here, finish your Sun Salutation as you would with any. Keep the variation by grabbing opposite elbows as needed if you want to keep all weight completely out of your hands:

  1. Inhale into Half Standing Forward Fold (Ardha Uttanasana)
  2. Exhale into Standing Forward Fold (Uttanasana)
  3. Inhale into Upward Salute (Urdhva Hastasana)
  4. Exhale into Mountain Pose (Tadasana)

 

For another alternative, Learn How to Practice Moon Salutations (Photo Tutorial)
 
 

Lose the Wrist Pain in Yoga With This Sun Salutation Variation

You can also use this Sun Salutation variation for Sun Salutation B. From Step 5 above, return to a neutral spine. Then step your right foot forward finding Warrior I (Virabhadrasana 1).

Instead of flowing through Chaturanga between sides, come back to your knees, flow through a Camel, and then repeat on the left side.

This Sun Salutation variation works well as a modification as it creates heat in the body and warms up many of the same muscles and joints as a traditional Sun Salutation.

If you practice this variation consistently not only will you give your hands and wrists the rest they need, but you’ll also train a much stronger core from all the extra Boat Poses. And who doesn’t love a strong core?!

So get rid of the wrist pain in yoga with this variation of a classic Sun Salutation. Your wrists will thank you in the long run!

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Tonya Wetzel

Tonya is a RYT-200 yoga teacher at Loft Yoga, BSL in Bay St Louis, Mississippi. She loves that she gets to share the joy and healing that yoga brought to her life. In addition to teaching yoga, she flips houses with her husband. Outside of work, Tonya is a travel enthusiast who loves the outdoors and adventure, spending time at the local beach, good wine, geocaching, and playing with her three dogs.

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