How to Protect the Wrists in Vinyasa Yoga
In my humble opinion, based on many years of observing yoga in action, I believe that the single most effective direction to protect the wrists in Vinyasa yoga is to learn about the inner triads of the hands. The work of the inner triads is what we teach at Maya Yoga in order to not only protect and strengthen the wrists, but to lengthen the inner line of the arms and open the armpit chest.
The inner triads are comprised of three points in the hands. They are as follows:
1. The knuckle of your index finder at the palm
2. The base knuckle of your thumb at the palm, and
3. The inner wrist
These three points make up what we call the inner triads of the wrist. This is where the predominance of the weight in the hands needs to be in any weight bearing pose; for example, Downward Facing Dog or Chaturanga Dandasana. Please know that I stress the predominance of the weight. There is still some weight in the outer wrist and the outer wrist does touch the floor.
Why do we bring more weight to the inner triads? Because it takes the pressure off this little tiny bone in your outer wrist called the pisiform bone. This tiny bone is named after the latin word for sweet pea. It is the smallest bone in your appendicular skeleton. So, it only makes sense that you wouldn’t want this little bone holding up most of your body weight! It is simply not sustainable. Yoga should help you to integrate your joints, not disintegrate them. Protect your wrists and you will extend and expand your practice in incredible ways.
As Patanjali says, the best way to know something is to have a direct experience of it; pratyaksha in Sanskrit. So, get on your yoga mat and try this work. I will instruct you on setting the inner triads first, and then maintaining them as you move into Downward Facing Dog:
1. Start on your hands and knees and separate your hands the width of your shoulders. Be honest – most people’s shoulders are not wider than the mat so your hands should definitely be within the edges of the mat.
2. Turn your hands so your middle fingers point straight ahead and spread your fingers without overspreading them. Your thumb should follow the natural line of your palm. Press the Inner Triads of both hands down to root your hands to the mat.
3. Turn your inner elbows to face each other. The more flexible you are, the more you will have to focus on this. Straighten your arms and line your shoulders over your wrists.
4. Lower your head and separate your knees the width of your hips. Your outer knees should be in line with your outer hips. Walk your knees back until they are under your sitting bones.
5. Inhale and lift your head and sitting bones.
6. Exhale and straighten your legs into downward facing dog.
7. Press through the Inner Traids of your hands and feel as though you are pressing the front of your mat away from you.
8. Lower your head between your arms and breathe freely through your nose. Stay for 1 minute and focus on your hands. When you are done, come down and rest in childs pose.
Let me know if you have any questions and let me how it goes in the comment section!
Namaste and Aloha,