Letter: Why do downward facing dog?
I have been practicing and teaching yoga for the past 20 years. I was a RN for over 40 years along with being a fitness director and owner of many dance studios when I lived in South Florida. Then I worked in my husband’s chiropractic office for 17 years teaching yoga therapy to all patients needing specific therapy.
I developed carpel tunnel syndrome, which defined is “a tunnel on the palmar side of your wrist,” after practicing yoga for many years. “This tunnel houses our forearm flexor tendons as well as our median nerve.” There are many ways that the median nerve can be affected. The most serious way is by direct compression over the carpal tunnel. This comes from doing downward facing dog.
When you are in upward dog or plank for that matter, are your shoulders over your wrists? If your shoulders are in front of your wrists, your wrists are in too much extension and this will lead to decreased space for the median nerve over time. This will cause carpal tunnel syndrome.
I knew that all those years placing my entire body weight on my wrists was a problem; but just like all the rest of the students, I followed the instructor doing the asanas (poses).
If you are participating in a yoga class and the instructor is doing a pose that doesn’t feel good for your body, then don’t do it. You need to know your body and what feels good. I have been teaching yoga to students who appreciate the reason for doing only gentle slow Hatha yoga. If you are looking for a workout, then go do some aerobic exercises, bike, hike, swim, tennis, walk, etc. Yoga is all about mind, body and spirit along with meditation and breath work.
Yoga is a wonderful way to heal inside and out, but it must be done safely or else you won’t be healing and getting rid of physical problems within your body. I have seen many patients come into the office who have injured themselves from yoga. Be sure your instructor has enough background in anatomy to lead you in the right direction.
Please contact me if you would like any further information pertaining to your health — email@example.com. I come to you with and open-heart and loving soul. Thank you so much for taking the time to be conscious of your body.
Nurse/fitness specialist/yoga therapist/author
South Lake Tahoe, Calif.