by Baxter and Nina
But you just know we’ve got solutions for that, don’t you? Well, of course we do. And, yes, today we’re going to introduce four variations of Downward-Facing Dog pose for people with hand or wrist problems. In the coming weeks, we’ll be covering these poses in detail, but for now we’re just going to show them all together, starting with the easiest first and ending with the most challenging, so you can see what your options are. The first two versions are also suitable for people who find full Downward-Facing Dog pose too challenging due to stiffness or weakness or just too exhausting.
So without further ado, here we go!
1. Downward-Facing Dog with knees on the floor (Puppy pose).
Because your knees are on the floor in this pose, you bear very little weight on your hands in this pose. And because your shoulders are lower to the ground, the position of your wrist stays closer to neutral. However, keeping your arms and shoulder active in this position helps build upper body strength. This pose is a wonderful variation for people who are too weak to do a full Downward-Facing Dog pose.
Placing your hands on the seat of the chair takes some of the weight off your hands (though not as much as Puppy pose) and keeps your wrists in a more neutral position. Benefits not provided by Puppy pose include leg stretching and strengthening, as well as increased upper body strengthening. Depending on your hand and wrists issues, you can choose between two hand positions: hands flat on the chair seat and hands holding the chair edges (see close-up photos). Because this version is easier than a full Downward-Facing Dog pose, it is suitable for someone who is still building up a enough strength to do the full pose.
This version takes most of the weight off your hands and wrists and keeps your wrists in a more neutral position, while providing the full upper body strengthening for your upper arms, shoulders, back and chest provided by Downward-Facing Dog pose. Most people find having the forearms in a triangle position (headstand position) easier on the shoulders than keeping the forearms parallel. However, the hand position of the next variation may be better for your hands and wrists. Depending on your flexibility, this pose may be as challenging or even more challenging than full Downward-Facing Dog. So take it easy with this one, starting off by holding it for short periods of time and working up to longer holds.
Like Downward-Facing Dog with Headstand arms, this version takes most of the weight off your hands and wrists while keeping your hands and wrists in a neutral position, while at the same time providing full upper body strengthening for your upper arms, shoulders, chest and back. Use the block between your hands to keep your hands and forearms in a parallel position, about shoulder-width apart. Because this version requires a lot of flexibility in the shoulders, many people—like me, Nina!—find this version more challenging than full Downward-Facing Dog pose (though an excellent preparation for several inverted poses). So take it easy with this one, starting off by holding it for short periods of time and working up to longer holds.