Yoga for Sciatica : Best Way to Relieve Pain

Updated on March 31st, 2020
Yoga for Sciatica

Have you heard about sciatica? Well, apart from the people who suffer from this nerve-wracking pain, others might not be aware of it. And, it is becoming ubiquitous amongst the present generation who like to sit behind their laptops and enjoy a sedentary lifestyle. Besides, there is a cure for sciatica but many people doubt about it due to the myths that surround the same, and it is practicing yoga for sciatica.

Yes! You heard it right, but still, is the question of its credibility haunting you? If so then read ahead as we tell you how the different causes of sciatica have different yoga postures. Get a relief as there are yoga exercises for sciatica that arise out of piriformis which makes for approximately 70% of the possible causes of this condition. Many people believe that yoga is not for piriformis sciatica but they are wrong and this article is a perfect answer to all such queries and myths, hence scroll down and learn for yourself.

    1. Is Yoga Good for Sciatica
    2. Yoga Poses
    3. Precautions

A Sneak Peek on Yoga for Sciatica

Yoga for Sciatica treatment
Image: ShutterStock

The sciatic nerve consists of five individual nerve roots that originate (from the lumbar spine L4 to S3) in the sacral plexus of the lower back. These roots then merge and travel down towards the foot through the thigh and form the sciatic nerve. Sciatica is the condition of the human body when the sciatic nerve is affected negatively by compression and irritation of the nerve in the constricted space.

The common causes of sciatica(1) are vertebral issues like excessive movement, fractures, collapses and narrowing. A balanced yoga manipulates the spine into its natural movements that articulate and undulates the spine. This aids the discs by strengthening the muscles, ligaments, and tendons of the vertebral column. Yoga also helps in making sure that the discs get their necessary nutrients and the debris is removed constantly.

[Also Read Home Remedies to Treat Sciatica]

Can People with Sciatica Practice Yoga?

In sciatica, the pain can be of two types based on the origin

  • A herniated disc that causes numbness in the legs and feet, pain down the lower back and shocks down the sciatic nerve
  • A small muscle in the hip called piriformis which becomes tight (or other words inflamed) and exerts pressure on the sciatic nerve causing pain of severe degree

Treating sciatica through yoga also depends on its origin. For sciatica caused due to a herniated disc, basic and gentle poses that are mostly the fundamentals of yoga are used. It includes standing poses and a downward-facing dog that reduces the problems caused by herniation and sometimes herniation itself. For yoga caused by the pressure on the sciatic nerve, because of the piriformis(2), asanas that strengthen the muscle are used where the approach is gentle and progressive.

Can Yoga Cause or Aggravate the Sciatica Pain?

The main challenge in treating sciatica through yoga is to find out what had caused sciatica in the first place and treating it according to the cause. DKS Iyengar in his book, The Path to Holistic Health, has also emphasized the same about sciatica, where you treat it based on whether you are experiencing it right now or not.

If you experience sciatica because of piriformis and try poses such as up cat/down cat, neck flexions, the pain aggravates. However the same helps in treating sciatica caused due to a herniated disc. Similarly, if the cause of sciatica is discogenic and you are practicing poses like perfect pigeon, the leg pain increases.

[Also Read: Massage for Sciatica Pain]

5 Effective Yoga Poses for Sciatica that would Sway your Sciatica Pain Away

Here are some yoga poses for sciatic pain that helps to treat sciatica caused by both piriformis muscle tightening as well as the herniated disc.

Reclined Pigeon pose: It helps in stretching the piriformis. Here the femur is rotated in 90 degrees outward so that the piriformis doesn’t work anymore. In Sanskrit, it is called Supta Kapotasana. Here is a step by step procedure to perform this asana

  1. Lie down on your back with knees bent and soles of feet on the floor.
  2. Cross right foot over left knee, with right knee outside to main integrity.
  3. Reach the hamstring on the left leg and bring toward your chest to open right knee.
  4. Hold 30 seconds to 2 minutes on each side.
  5. Release this posture and return to normal.

Crescent Lunge Twist pose:

Crescent Lunge Twist pose for Sciatica
Image: ShutterStock

This pose helps in relieving sciatica by strengthening the core. Here is a step by step procedure to perform this asana

  1. Keep the front foot rooted on earth with the knee above and tracking an angle of 90 degrees.
  2. Keep the back leg is straight without bending the knee, and distribute weight backward on the toes as the back heel is pushed down toward earth.
  3. The spine is long and extended and the inner thighs form a scissor towards each other.
  4. Keep both the arms straight with wrist and fingers extended.
  5. Release this posture and return to normal.

Cobra Pose:

This pose helps in strengthening the lower spine and glutes. It also helps in lengthening the lower spine. In Sanskrit, it is called Bhujangasana.

  1. Lie on your belly with palms flat on the floor under the shoulders and legs together. The chin must touch the floor.
  2. Pull up the knee caps while squeezing the thighs and hips. Press the pubic bone toward the floor.
  3. Inhale and lift the head and chest without moving the arms, whereas the spine must be in line with the neck.
  4. Use the arms to lift higher while pressing the palm down. Drop shoulder back and forth and press the chest forward.
  5. Breathe and hold for 2-6 breaths.
  6. Release this posture and return to normal.

Locust Poses Variations:

Locust Poses for Sciatica

This pose strengthens and decompresses the lower back by focusing on tucking the tail bone down. In Sanskrit, it is called Ardha Salabhasana. Here is a step by step procedure to perform this asana.

  1. Lie on your stomach and raise your head from the ground and focus on a point straight in front of you.
  2. Lift your chest and arms from the ground, while exhaling. Also, maintain your head and leg position.
  3. Hold this position while inhaling. Lift your weight with the help of your inner thighs, and raise your legs from the ground. The weight now shifts on your bottom ribs, pelvis and stomach.
  4. Breathe evenly and extend your arms backward while reaching the feet with arms parallel to the floor.
  5. Hold this pose for 5 to 10 breaths.
  6. Release this posture and return to normal.

Eagle Pose:

Eagle Pose

Eagle pose helps in curing sciatica by rotating thigh bones internally. In Sanskrit, it is called Garudasana.

  1. Stand and bend both knees and raise the right foot off the ground and bend the leg on the ground slightly. Cross the right thigh over left and reach your right foot back with toes down.
  2. Distribute weight on your foot equally so that a solid foundation is created.
  3. Reach your arms forward such that they are parallel to the floor. Bring forearms perpendicular to the ground by crossing left elbow over right. Rest the backs of your hands together or bring your palms together by crossing wrists.
  4. Press your elbows away from you and stretch them to shoulder height and stretch upper back.
  5. Stay in garudasana for 20 to 30 seconds with steady breathing.
  6. Release the posture and return to normal.
  7. Repeat it on the other side as well.

[Read: Best Essential Oils for Sciatica]

Precautions while Performing Yoga Exercises for Sciatic Nerve Pain

Here are some of the precautions to be undertaken while practicing yoga for lower back pain and sciatica

  • All postures have to be practiced  only under the supervision and guidance of a trained instructor
  • Yogic postures practiced should be accurate. The pain endurance level should be assessed so as to not keep the body under more pressure
  • If the pain is too much, avoid sharp forward bends
  • Stay hydrated by drinking more water  throughout the yoga session
  • In case of any discomfort, let the trainer know immediately
  • Avoid practicing yoga immediately after food

Yoga, with its simple and easy poses, does clearly help in curing sciatica and preventing its occurrence for a long period of time. When practiced regularly and accurately, yoga for sciatic nerve pain may help in avoiding any surgeries suggested by the doctor. People also practice yoga as a precautionary method that avoids sciatica in the future.

When compared to the conventional methods, yoga for sciatica pain is listed as an easy cure. To avoid the condition of sciatica, practice yoga on a daily basis but do not forget to keep in mind the precautions required.

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