Sciatica is a very common problem. You’ve most likely experienced it yourself or you know someone who has. Sciatic pain originates anywhere in the sciatic nerve, which runs from your hip to your toes. When the condition flares up, it manifests with different symptoms related to movement and sensation and leaves the sufferer in a considerate amount of pain and discomfort. Depending on the cause and severity of sciatica, some yoga poses can help relieve and heal sciatic nerve pain.

Find The Cause Of Sciatica First

It’s important to get to the root of the problem. Sciatic pain is just a symptom – there is an underlying disorder that needs to be identified. You might need to seek advice from your doctor first and get a proper diagnosis before proceeding.

The two most common scenarios behind sciatica include:

  1. A herniated disc – the excruciating pain is caused by a bulging or ruptured disc that pinches or irritates the nearby nerve.
  2. Piriformis syndrome – this is a rare type of sciatica caused by irritation to the sciatic nerve by a muscle in the buttock called the piriformis. The piriformis can push the sciatic nerve against the tendons beneath it, which results in the familiar buttock and leg pain.

How Can Yoga Help With Sciatica?

If a herniated disc is the cause of your pain, you need to be very careful not to aggravate the condition and make it worse. Professional guidance is recommended when designing your exercise program. In some cases, yoga can help you manage the situation and can even reduce the herniation. The practice needs to progress from gentle poses to basic foundational asanas (yoga postures). Certain poses can align, strengthen and lengthen your lower back and offer gradual improvement.

If the culprit is a tight piriformis muscle, you need to work on stretching it. Again, be gentle and progress slowly. You don’t want to overwork piriformis and worsen the pain.

What follows is a selection of yoga poses that target the piriformis and can help you relieve sciatic pain.

Reclining big toe pose – Supta Padangusthasana

  • Use an elastic strap to do this stretch and place it around the ball of your right foot.
  • Straighten the right leg towards the ceiling while holding the strap.
  • Stretch the right leg upwards and keep the foot flexed. As you do this, both sides of your butt should be pressed against the floor.
  • Hold for 10 breaths.
  • Lower the right leg slowly by first bending the right knee towards your chest and then placing the leg on the floor.
  • Repeat on the left side.

Staff pose – Dandasana

This is the basic seated pose.

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