Healing a Broken Wrist Through One Simple Pose

practicing tadasana yoga pose
Photo by yogicphotos

Healing from injury can be a long and arduous process. It can also be empowering, and shine light into dark places that are easily ignored when everything is functioning properly. The trick is being an active (and mostly willing) participant in the healing process.

Having spent years studying holistic health and wellness, I rarely seek support from Western modalities, opting for a different bag of tricks when ill or injured. So when I broke my wrist last November, I felt confident about supporting my own healing. Of course, I went to the doctor for an x-ray and cast, but I also embraced the chance to rest, practice gentle yoga and meditation, and prepare nourishing, vitamin rich foods and teas.

With regards to my yoga practice, I actually felt a bit of guilty pleasure at the prospect of being forced to spend more time focusing on the niyamas, especially svadhyaya (self-study). As a desk ridden 9-5er, I often shortchange this side of my practice in favor of asana, so I wasn’t worried about the a break from a physical practice. After all, with the availability of meditation, pranayama and hands-free standing poses, I didn’t think I’d really miss downward facing dog.

The thing about inner practices and injuries is they generally don’t provide just the lessons you were expecting.

Soon after the fall, the yoga teacher in me came out. I began dreaming up asana sequences that wouldn’t require putting weight on my hands and researching best practices for healing and preventing wrist injuries with yoga. Through the fog of pain and pain medication, I attempted to rationally and analytically prepare for the real “work” of the healing process, when I would start strengthening my wrist and arm muscles and regaining range of motion through concerted effort and asana.

When the pain subsided enough to get on my mat, something else happened. I found that all I could do was stand in tadasana and breathe. For days that is all I did. There were days where I’d practice several times, but never more than this. Eventually, I began integrating arm variations, but this pose was still everything—nothing else seemed available. Although I had always thought I “got” why tadasana was called mountain pose, I discovered I really had no idea. Standing, grounding, breathing. Standing, grounding, breathing. It felt like the only pose I would ever need. We were the mountain, this stance and I, and we would patiently be just this, for eons.

Every so often my rational mind would take over and tell me that I had to do something else, resulting in awkward, half-hearted warrior poses that stressed my upper arm, causing quick and humble retreats to the safety of tadasana. I walked around like I was made of glass and the whole world was ceramic tile. And that’s when I finally understood. Through the lens of svadhyaya, I witnessed all that I wanted and longed for—and I let it go.  I felt myself open into being content (samthosa) with this simple, single asana. Only then did I begin to truly reestablish a foundation and connection with the earth that wasn’t quite so tentative or adversarial, remembering again how vital these moments of stillness are.

Eventually I integrated some other standing poses, but the fear of putting my hands on the floor well outlasted the pain in my wrist. I still find that I need a slow, steady, mindful practice. I now see how, before the fall, I often drifted into asana practice without the balance of breath and meditation. Herein is the great irony of injuries: they often require us to begin practicing in ways we knew we should have been the whole time.

With my newly redirected yoga practice, I am no longer planning and seeking out asasa, but rather letting it come to me, and appreciating each pose on a new level. I’m also working to actively explore all my dark corners, shining light on them before something else breaks and forces it on me. And I’m grateful that this reminder was relatively minor.

Comments 10

  1. Great article and so very helpful to me right now after a broken wrist which needed plates and pins and is still in plaster and still in much pain.

    Thankyou so much for all this which settles me into being grateful for what I CAN still do !!

  2. It’s been three weeks sine I slipped on the ice and broke my right wrist. (I’m right handed) I was missing yoga (no driving in the snow) so I googled how to do yoga with a broken wrist. I couldn’t think of one pose I could do, then I read your article. Thank you! I am doing mountain pose and star. I hope to do crow again some day.

  3. I recently broke my wrist and have felt unbalanced and out of sorts. I love reading Ambers article and feel so uplifted. I look forward to using my very novice knowledge of yoga for physical and emotional healing
    Thank you

  4. I really enjoyed reading your approach. Gives me hope and focus. I wonder how your wrist is after some time and healing. I just broke my radius and am experiencing a lot of vulnerability, even walking. I’m pretty sure that your words will be a huge help

  5. Here I am, the newest member of this exclusive-only-for-now online broken wrist club. I fell and broke both my radius and ulna 3 weeks ago; 2 surgeries so far that included plates, pins, & an unexpected carpal tunnel release. I’ve been expressing my gratitude outwardly in that this injury wasn’t catastrophic or to my dominant hand/wrist. Internally, however, I’ve struggled with the setback it will bring to my practice and to my independence overall. I returned to my mat a week ago, simply to sit…to meditate….to be there. It was a first step. Today I searched some key words for a safe practice and found this beautiful article ~ a reminder I’m already on track by simply being on my mat and the remainder will unfold in time. Namaste 🙏

  6. Two weeks since I had plate and pins put in my wrist. Does the pain ever go away? 😪 will I ever be able to put weight on my wrist again?

  7. 13 years ago I broke my left wrist and had it plated, I used my yoga practice to help with getting the strength and flexibility back it took hard work and perseverence to get back to balance postures. Now I have broken my right wrist! I feel less sure of recovery this time but am back to practice again slow but sure and hopeful.

  8. Dear broken wrist yoga lovers,
    I am including myself in this dedicated group, having broken my left (non-dominant) ulna. It has been five weeks since I’ve been released from my cast, followed by four weeks of two-times-per week physical therapy. Stopping into my yoga studio I decided to take a basic stretching class. This has shown me a path back to my regular yoga practice. I cannot sustain weight bearing pressure on my healing wrist but before each class I remind the instructor of my healing process and ask for modifications to todays planned movements. I find the instructors are most willing assistants in this effort. Looking to gain strength, balance and deep breathing once again.

  9. I’m new to yoga but I love it having just signed up last week. Well yesterday I fractured both my wrists, ironically, on my way to yoga class when my yoga mat got stuck between the front tire and frame of my bicycle and flipped me forward.

    I’m really trying to figure out what to do because I feel quite a balance without it, even though I’m new to official yoga I have been stretching and doing my own poses I guess without really knowing what I was doing.

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