Tabletop pose is a foundational pose that we work with fairly often in asana practices. We use it as our base for cat/cow stretches, and it can be used as an alternative for downward-facing dog in a vinyasa (flow) practice. Although it is a common pose, that doesn't mean it is easy! I know many yogis struggle to get comfortable in this pose, so today I'm going to show you a few ways to modify it to fit your body's needs. All of these variations come with the same benefits:
- building upper body strength
- building core strength
- building strength in the wrists and hands
- improving posture
- improves proprioception (awareness of body in space)
For the traditional variation of this pose, come down onto your hands and knees. The hips are stacked over your knees. You can point or flex the toes, whichever you prefer. The shoulders are stacked directly over the wrists. All ten fingers are fanned out so that you're pressing evenly into all ten fingertips. The fleshy part of the hand between the index finger and the thumb is pressing into the mat. The center of the hand is lifted off the mat like a suction cup. This activation of the hands is going to protect your wrists in this pose.
Engage your core muscles to keep the back flat. The gaze is just past your fingertips, keeping your neck straight so that it is an extension of your spine.
Hold this pose for five to ten breaths or longer if you'd like to challenge yourself.
VARIATION: TAKING A WIDE STANCE
If you'd like, you can give yourself more space to explore in this pose. Take the hands beyond the shoulders, maybe take them as wide as the mat. You can do the same with your knees. This can make it feel a bit easier on the wrists, but it does challenge the shoulders a bit more. Give it a try and see if it feels good for you!
VARIATION: COMING ONTO THE FISTS
If you have sensitive wrists, coming up onto your fists will take the bend out of your wrists, which can help to alleviate pain here. This can feel a bit odd for your knuckles though, so again, give it a try and just see if it feels right for your body.
VARIATION: ADDING BLOCKS
Adding blocks under the hands shifts the weight back onto the knees a bit, so this may be a good option for you if you are just beginning to build upper body strength or if you have sensitive wrists and/or shoulders.
VARIATION: STANDING WITH A CHAIR
This option can be helpful if getting down to the floor isn’t an option for you or if you have sensitive knees or knee injury. The same idea of stacking the shoulders over wrists and hips over knees applies. You can rest the hands on top of the seat and fan the fingers or you can grip the edges of the seat like I have done here.
VARIATION: ADDING A FOLDED BLANKET UNDER THE KNEES
Giving yourself extra padding on your knees can help to reduce pain. Remember that you can combine any of these variations to optimize your personal comfort.
HOW DID IT GO?
If you tried any of these variations, I'd love to know how it went for you! Tag me on Instagram and use the hashtag #spoonieyogatribe in your photos for a chance to be featured on my page! Or post a photo in our private Facebook group to show off your progress! As a part of your membership, you can get personalized feedback on your poses.