File under ‘there’s a first for everything’

Cathy ZielskeCZ Life43 Comments

The time: Sunday morning. The place: our family room. The purpose: to become one with the universe… or actually just to have better strength and flexibility. The participants: Dan and Cathy Zielske, married 25 years and working on being more connected by doing more things together, like online yoga classes.

Stranger things have happened.

What you see in this rather grainy selfie I took was me and my old man at the start of an online beginner yoga class taught by Dana Falsetti. I’d been wanting to at least give yoga a try this year, and after seeing a viral video on Facebook of Dana Falsetti, I knew I wanted her vibe for my first real foray.

True, doing yoga at home has its drawbacks. There is no one there to correct your form and your husband is about a million times more flexible than you are. Otherwise, we’re giving it a shot and maybe if we get more confident, we’ll tackle a studio class at some point in the future.

I do have a question for those of you who are a bit older (as in my age) and practice yoga: my wrists are frickin’ KILLING me, to the point that I’m not even sure this stuff is a good idea. I welcome any feedback. I have pretty lousy wrists from 25+ years of clicking keys and mice for a living. But again, maybe yoga will help that.

Suffice to say, Downward Dog is a killer.

This is all part of my stepping back onto the path of self care in 2017. I look at the journey like this: sometimes, I get on the path and I stay there for a while. If I don’t focus, I step off and find myself in the Land of Cheap Red Wine and Goldfish. Then I realize that I don’t feel as good as I’d like to and I step back onto the path. I’m working to remove the judgments, too. The ones that say, “Cath, if you’re not on the path you’re a loser!” Instead, my inner voice is proud of me for showing up and working to be healthier.

So far, January has been all about re-setting intentions and realizing that there’s no better time than the present to get healthier. I never feel like a failure anymore because I don’t hit some magical weight goal. The failure for me comes in not caring. This is the only body I get. I need to care the supreme crap out of it.

So we’ll see how this Sunday morning yoga thing shakes out.


People are still signing up for my  year-long e-course, and using it as a spring board to get back on that path of healthier living. The class alone can’t do it for you, but it will give you motivation and support (our community on Facebook is terrific!) as you work to make better choices.

Cathy ZielskeFile under ‘there’s a first for everything’

43 Comments on “File under ‘there’s a first for everything’”

  1. #1
    Shelley B

    Hey Cathy, I am only a little younger than you but have been doing yoga on and off for awhile. I remember when I first started yoga my wrists hurt. I do think that some of that is just getting strong enough to hold the positions correctly — so that there is less pressure on the wrists. I know in Down dog at first so much of your weight is forward but as you get stronger, you are supposed to be pulling back with your legs, and using your hands inline with your arms. You end up using your hands more than your wrists to hold the pose. This does take time to build up to though. It is not easy to do when you first start. If it keeps hurting though, you may want to try a live class sooner. Good luck with yoga! I love it.

  2. #2

    Hi Cathy – I have never done yoga but I can offer a suggestion to ease the pain in your wrists as far as your computer work goes. Invest in a tablet and stylus and toss the mouse. The repetitive motion of scrolling/dragging with a mouse is not good for your wrists. With a stylus (pen), you point and click where you want to be on your screen and there is no scrolling/dragging like you have with a mouse. I switched to a tablet and stylus in 2010 (for health reasons concerning my wrists) and I won’t ever go back to using a mouse. So perhaps if you make the switch then your wrists will only hurt short term during yoga until you get the strength built up but you’ll also prevent future damage from scrolling/dragging with a mouse. Also, while your wrists are hurting, you could continue to get your computer work done using a stylus and that won’t continue to aggravate them like a mouse will. Hope your wrists feel better soon!

    1. #2.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Oh man, that scares me too! lol. The whole pen and stylus thing… just because I’m so accustomed to my magic mouse. But so far (in the last number of years) my wrists have improved because I don’t work without taking breaks and a i bought a killer char (Herman Miller Aeron) because my physical therapist said part of my problem was coming from some vein in my neck. I will do a little googling today on pens and tablets!

      1. #2.1.1

        This is the one I have:

        There are newer models available (mine was new in 2010). Mine is the medium size and it fits nicely in front of my keyboard (I am a mac user too). Wacom makes nice products and they are worth the investment (I say investment because they are not cheap and it is an investment in the future health and well being of your wrists!)

        Although it may seem scary at first, I promise you, once you get the hang of it (a few hours of playing with it), you will be a pro. And another cool thing about using a stylus is, you can use the pen just like a normal pen and if you want to have your handwriting on your scrapbook pages for the journaling, all you have to do is write like you normally would with a real pen – only use the stylus in photoshop. It’s a beautiful thing! There are so many things that it’s easier to use a stylus than a mouse. Good Luck with you search!

  3. #3
    Kelly O

    I’m a little bit older than you and started doing an online yoga class last week. Downward Dog was a killer for my wrists too until I connected with the fact that I needed to push up with my hands. It took a lot of the pressure off my wrists. Like you , I am hoping it will get better as I get stronger.

  4. #4
    Cathy S

    For the wrists in downdog – try to distribute your weight over the whole hand. Spread the fingers wide, index finger pointing straight ahead while other fingers and thumb fan out. Press firmly into your fingers, so strongly you might see the nailbeds change color. Downdog might be the quintessential yoga pose, but it is not simple or easy. Sunday mornings are a great time for yoga – I’ll think of you as I teach my Sunday morning yoga class here in PA! More wrist exercises here:

  5. #5

    I am a lot older than you….71 and I go to a yoga class twice a week. The benefits are remarkable. I would recommend going to an instructor who has classes at all levels. You can start at a gentle level and work up. I love my instructor and she makes sure I do postures that are appropriate for my body. She even offers a chair yoga class for the people who cannot get up and down off the floor. The tree poses help with balance.

    1. #5.1
      Cathy Zielske

      I know we should go to an actual class. I think I’m just working up the guts to do that. Plus, financially, it’s more affordable to do it at home.

  6. #6

    I have really bad wrists, since I have been overusing them on keyboards and mice since 1993 (and I never bothered to learn how to properly type). For 2 years I took yoga 3-4 times a week. And for at least the first month my wrists were KILLING me, to the extent that I would often have to break out of poses. But after a month of steady practice the pain eased– on and off the Matt. That said, I also have bad knees and I always kept a rolled up towel nearby so I could use it for any poses that required weight on my knees.

    1. #6.1
      Cathy Zielske

      I love in this online class, they encourage, blankets, towels, blocks… and modifying everything. 🙂 Helpful for beginners like me with a few body issues (wrists and a big toe that no longer bends.)

  7. #7
    Annie S.

    Hey there! I started going to yoga at my Y maybe 5 years ago… I aim for 2x a week. I’ve had periods where other issues have kept me away (avulsion fracture last summer for example), but I always return and start as gently as possible. The no judgement thing is huge. Also yoga is not supposed to hurt. Instead of downdog you can do extended child’s pose. Our teachers always offer an alternative pose.
    I agree with comments above…weight on hands with fingers spread but ideally pushing back so that most of your weight should be back toward your heels. Maybe you can watch a couple of youtubes for specific positions to fine tune them.
    Or try a gentle beginner class somewhere …most studios let you try one for free.
    Getting the positions right is more important than how deeply you bend. Remember it’s not a competition. Listen to your body and enjoy the stretching and the calm yoga gives you.
    P.s. My knees have been really bad this year (arthritis from old ski injuries), so there are a bunch of positions and poses I do not do. (Be careful of pigeon; I found it much better to do a different version lying on my back).

  8. #8

    I loved Cathy S’s tips above, and want to add that until your wrists become more flexible, you can fold your mat over at the top so that your palms have a double-layer of mat. That might help ease the transition up into down dog 😊 hope you two have fun together- my husband & I have been doing yoga for years & really enjoy it!

  9. #9

    More of the same advice here. However, I am thinking you can trade services. Most yoga studios could use some better logos/designs for signage, websites and newsletters. You can provide the goods and in exchange get some free private lessons or monthly membership. Remember, you have skills many people want!

    1. #9.1

      Great idea about trading services especially for the larger yoga studios who have expensive rent to pay. They need new students and want their classes full. Once you know how to do the positions correctly, you can continue at home. Yoga is not supposed to hurt.

  10. #10

    Cathy- try googling “cupcake hands” yoga. Note it’s not on the fingertips like one pic I saw…it’s just holding your hands a little crimped in like you’re protecting something under the middle of your hand. Helped me tremendously. Namaste my friend!

  11. #11

    Secretly says to self *I must make sure I can “flow” from one pose to the other without farting before going to an actual class…*

  12. #12

    If it hurts don’t do it. Yoga can be very beneficial but it can also cause significant injuries. I would highly recommend an instructor taught class, certainly in the beginning of your foray into the practice. Over the years, I’ve had to dial back on the type of yoga classes I take for exactly the reasons you mention, wrist and joint pain. Start with a gentle yoga class and see how things go. Good luck!

  13. #13

    I’m about 10 years younger than you. I’ve done yoga on/off for about 2 years. I now take an actual class every week, and have not been too consistent with a home practice. This january I committed to do a 31 days of yoga challenge – which is a home practice. It’s a struggle showing up for myself every …… day. BUT I’ve shown up, and can now 24 days in (haven’t done day 25 yet) feel a difference in my body. Stick with it, and sooner that one think, changes will start to show. Find what feels good, and down-dog will get easier in time. I’ve done a quite a few this last month, and I quite like them now. My heels are nowhere near the floor, my hamstrings are as tight as they’ve always been, but I just bend my legs, push my bottom up, and find what feels good. I can stand in that resting pose longer than I could before I started a daily practice. Hang in there, it will get better.

    1. #13.1

      I believe I have taken the same 31 day yoga challenge (the awesome in me bows to the awesome in you, Maiken!) and the wrists do get better once you learn to use your flat palms as the base and your legs/shoulders start to bear most of the weight of the pose. It makes no sense, physics-wise, but it’s true.

      I’ll leave a plug for Yoga with Adriene here.

  14. #14
    Lynne Moore

    Qualifications: In my early 50’s, started acro yoga when I was about 49 and serious handstands a year after that… Then dabbled in yoga…

    There are so many kinds of yoga. Ty some different styles. (I really like BTW)

    I prefer Yin to counteract the acrobatics. Lots of props and deep holds. Hatha is slower and easier for me to keep up than Vinyasa. I prefer classes that don’t have prescribed order of the postures – but some people really like to have the same thing over and over so they can meditate into it and not think so much.

    But I find making the effort to concentrate on the right alignments – and doing it a little bit at a time rather than overwhelmed about it at once – made me more flexible and stronger in a much faster path than other forms of exercise. If that makes sense.
    I spent 10 years in martial arts and never got my chest to the floor in a straddle stretch. I am almost there now and the greatest gains were from yoga cues and took mere weeks to make a difference.

    I needed to be in an actual real-life class with an instructor I was confident with to get it. Plus, yes, wrists will hurt.. but extra wrist warmups are all the best at our age. And as long as it is an ache and not a sharp pain, keep at it. 🙂

  15. #15

    Kathy I’m not sure where we compare in age but our kids are similar in age so we should be close. I’ve done yoga for a year now and I too have wrist problems and I try to do about 3 of the down dog per class. On the other times I move to table top with my hands in a fist. This is helping to strengthen the wrist with less pressure. It works for me. Good for you for giving it a try. I make the accommodations to fit my body so that I can continue it. I enjoy it so much.

  16. #16

    You’re so awesome, Mrs. Zielske. I love how you write – the words you choose, the way you format your sentences. You give me a good laugh every single time because you are so funny in a very real true-to-life way. Thanks.

  17. #17

    Hi Cathy ~ I was so happy when the photo of you and Dan practicing yoga showed up in my feed. :o) I’m a 55-year old yoga teacher, living in Arizona. I’ve been practicing for 20 years, teaching for two, and I remember in the beginning how much I hated downward dog because my wrists killed me! Most of the comments above already covered the basics, but I will add that as your practice progresses you’ll be able to pull more weight into the lower body because your core will become stronger. Plus, your shoulders will gain more flexibility and give way. That will take more weight out of the hands. Spread your fingers super wide and press into every part of your hand – especially your thumb and index finger. You might try keeping a nice bend in your knees for downward dog, and scoop your tailbone upward. Also, a blanket roll to support the wrists can help too. Keep at it! The benefits will be amazing, for sure. I love that yoga always meets us right where we are. Namaste!

  18. #18

    58 year old yoga teacher here – and I totally agree with what Deb above recommends!! Give yourself time, listen to your body and keep breathing! 🙂

  19. #20

    i so admire all these women committed to making downward dog work. i am 55 and have narrow shoulders and little upper body strength but wide hips with lots of padding on them – classic inverted triangle. But I found restorative yoga classes that I adore – still get the focus and alignment and stretching but without the awkward discomfort of the downward dog (which also makes makes me have acid reflux). Just a thought – there may be online options for that although it may not be challenging enough for Dan.

  20. #21

    I didn’t make it through all the comments so forgive me if this has been mentioned already. I’ve done yoga on and off for a few years now and initially my wrists really hurt. As you can see, it is a common problem. One piece of advice I had was that you can always hold your hands in a different position. You can go up on your knuckles or round your hands as if there is an orange under them. Whatever form of relief you choose, keep it up!! It’s totally worth it. But I have to admit most of my yoga at home doesn’t include down dog. I leave that one for the studio!

    1. #21.1
      Cathy Zielske

      I so appreciate all the comments on this! Making me realize that there are many ways to modify when doing this stuff!

  21. #22
    Kathleen S

    The way to ease into the wrists is to roll up a blanket, put it parallel with your hands, and put the heels of your hands on the front edge. It gives you a better angle than the harsh 90 degree. You can also get a yoga wedge that accomplishes the same thing. This technique works for tight hamstrings/ankles in downward dog. Hang in there! You’ll like the results in a year or so.

  22. #23

    Yay, for yoga!!! I find the best thing about studio yoga is I can relax my mind better than I can at home.
    My instructor tells us that if downward dog doesn’t feel like a resting position we can do child’s pose. Maybe you could alternate a few child’s poses with downward dog.
    Also, Nisswa yoga is so great. When you get to the cabin this summer you have to try it.

  23. #24

    I have taken great comfort in what Stacy Julian said about starting yoga. Don’t think “If I’d started yoga years ago I’d be so much more flexible now”; instead focus on one year (or more years) in the future – how much more flexible you’ll be then because you’re starting now.
    I’m several years older than you and I’ve been doing yoga for four years. I endorse what others have said about taking things easy and listening to your body, and getting to an instructor sooner rather than later – as they can suggest modifications for you, and correct your position before something that’s not quite right gets entrenched.
    Have fun!

  24. #25
    Kimberly Reed

    I practice yoga every day. When I first began, my wrists hurt. After practicing yoga fairly regularly for two years, my wrists no longer hurt. I went into yoga thinking “I want to be more flexible”. THAT was my goal. What I have come to realize is, what I am doing, and what is important to me, is creating space. Space to appreciate the body that I have. Space to become aware of what is inside my mind and to become more aware, of well… many things. Yoga has become about showing up, not so much to accomplish, and then beat myself up if I don’t measure up, but simply showing up, practicing, because that’s what it is, a practice…..and feeling good. I try not to judge myself and instead be proud that after two years, I haven’t given up, slacked off, nor quit (which up until yoga, was what happened with exercise aside from walking my dog everyday). Side benefit? I was the least flexible person on the planet. Not so much anymore and that makes me feel better.

    I use the Yoga Studio App on my iPad. Being an introvert, it is perfect for me. It comes with a bunch of beginner, intermediate and advanced workouts, and gives you the ability to make up your own workout (which is what I have done after using the app for two years). Go to a class, don’t go to a class….. use or do whatever feels best for YOU (and Dan)…. whatever that is. Be gentle with and to yourself. 🙂

    1. #25.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Kimberly, this is the type of thing I like hearing, because I am struggling with deciding if I want to keep trying. I think I have that app on my iPad, too! Maybe I need to also give that a go!

  25. #26

    When I worked on a computer all day long, I got both an ergonomic keyboard and an ergonomic mouse. Both helped a TON. It takes a bit to get used to either one, but after a bit they are awesome and I noticed a bit difference in how my wrists and hands felt. Might be worth a try.

  26. #27

    When I worked on a computer all day long, I got both an ergonomic keyboard and an ergonomic mouse. Both helped a TON. It takes a bit to get used to either one, but after a bit they are awesome and I noticed a big difference in how my wrists and hands felt. Might be worth a try.

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