Doing Yoga on a Carpet: Concerns and Modifications
By Kreg Weiss, B HKin • November 25th, 2010 • 4016 Views
Enjoy this latest Ask An Expert Question regarding concerns of practicing Yoga on a carpet versus a hardwood floor.
Question: I recently moved from a house with hardwood floors to a house with carpet. Is there anything I need to know about practicing on carpet? Is it bad for me? I find that it's slightly harder to stay balanced and I wondered if practicing on the carpet is somehow harder on my joints, etc... any thoughts or recommendations?
Answer: Thanks for your question - it is an important one! There are advantages to practicing on a hardwood floor:
- greatly stability in standing and balancing poses.
- an easier connection with the earth with the hands and feet.
- can be uncomfortable in some seated, kneeling and lying poses
- can be colder for the body
- for studios, it is more hygienic
There are advantages to practicing on a carpet:
- cushioning for sensitive areas like knees, ankles and hips
- more likely feels warmer
- less hygienic (especially with more vigorous/sweaty practices)
- more challenge with balancing (I recommend stepping off the mat in balancing poses to reduce overall cushioning effect)
MOST IMPORTANT when doing yoga on a carpet:
- extra cushioning or "sinking" of hands can lead to compression issues in the wrist - you will see this where the wrist settles lower that the fingers into the mat and carpet resulting in unwanted hyperextension of the wrists - this hyperextension and settling with body weight is called AXIAL LOADING or DORSAL WRIST IMPINGEMENT.
You can see some images via this link.
So, depending on the thickness of your mat and carpet, you should consider the following:
- be aware of shoulder wrist alignment in poses like plank and cats - the front shoulder line should never pass forward over the wrist - minimize hyperextension of the wrist.
- encourage body to be distributed throughout the entire hand and not localized into a small area of the wrist (planks, cats, down dog etc).
- use your lower limbs as much as possible (ie shift your weight off your hands into the knees in cat pose.
- use variations off the wrists at times to rest your wrists (down dog on the elbows, puppy pose, child instead of down dog, cat on elbows, plank on elbows).
- listen to your wrists and rest when needed - when doing flows, avoid repeated loading of hands (ie think that you should have a series of poses that doesn't allow for some sort of rest for the wrists - cat to down dog to plank to updog to down dog to side balance = not good for the wrists especially when on...