When it comes to practicing yoga, it’s not just your body that gets a workout — your hands do too! From sore wrists to weak fingers, hands that aren’t the strongest can make even the simplest poses (like down dog) feel way worse than they should.

While it’s always a good idea to check with your doctor first in case you have an injury or a condition causing you to experience pain or weakness in your hands, it’s not at all that uncommon to experience discomfort if you’re just starting out with yoga and aren’t very used to putting weight on your hands.

Between your yoga practices, try some of the following exercises to help strengthen your hands and improve their range of motion. Before you know it, your hands will be stronger and more flexible than ever!

Finger Stretching

This particular stretch should help when you’re ready to bear more weight on your hands rather than your feet in certain poses and spread your fingers out wide while you’re in downward dog.

  1. Simply place the palm of your hand down on any flat surface.
  2. Slowly and carefully straighten your fingers out to flatten your hand against the flat surface without forcing any joint strain.
  3. Hold your hand in this position for 30 seconds up to about a minute and repeat four times with each hand.

Wrist Movement

Ever feel like your hands are going to snap off when you’re trying to smoothly flow through your vinyasa sequence? This next wrist exercise can help with extension and flexion.

  1. Grab a towel, roll it up, and place it along the edge of a table.
  2. Place your wrist on the towel with your palm facing down so your whole hand hangs off the edge of the table.
  3. Gently move your hand from your wrist upward until you feel it stretch a little.
  4. Allow your hand to move back down to hang off table naturally and repeat this 5 to 10 times.
  5. Flip your hand over so your palm is facing up and move your hand from your wrist upward again in this position until you feel a slight stretch.
  6. Allow your hand to move back to its natural position and repeat this 5 to 10 times for each hand.

Thumb Extension

If you have trouble using your index fingers and thumbs to hold yourself up in down dog, maybe a few thumb exercises could help make that more comfortable for you.

  1. Take a rubber band and wrap it around the palm of your hand, including your thumb. (Make sure it’s tight enough to hold your thumb straight up against your fingers but not so tight that it cuts off your circulation!)
  2. Gently extend your thumb to pull it away from your fingers, stretching the band as you do it and holding your thumb out for 30 seconds up to a minute.
  3. Repeat this 5 to 10 hands on each hand and make sure you rest your hands for 48 hours before doing another session like this.

These exercises are recommended by WebMD and Harvard Medical School. As an added tip, you may want to consider warming up your hands prior to your yoga practice to help get rid of any stiffness or pain. Gently stretch them for a few minutes or run them under some warm water if they’re cold.