5 Yoga Poses to Relieve Sciatica
Have you considered trying yoga to relieve sciatica?
While yoga can provide incredible healing benefits for sciatica, it’s important to utilize postures that move you towards balance and away from pain. Remember, your body, genetic history and present health are unique to only you. If a particular posture doesn’t feel right, don’t use it.
First and foremost, always listen to your intuition.
Today, we will explore 5 yoga poses to help relieve sciatic nerve pain.
But first, let’s begin by exploring what the sciatic nerve actually is.
According to Wikipedia,
“The sciatic nerve (/saɪˈætɪk/; also called ischiadic nerve, ischiatic nerve) is a large nerve in humans and animals. It begins in the lower back and runs through the buttock and down the lower limb. It is the longest and widest single nerve in the human body, going from the top of the leg to the foot on the posterior aspect.”
The sciatic nerve is the largest and longest spinal nerve in the human body, starting and the base of the spine running through your thigh all the way down to your foot.
What is sciatica or sciatic nerve pain?
Sciatic pain is typically described as shooting or burning pain in the lower back, buttock, hip, hamstring, alongside the leg and occasionally down into the calf or foot. Sciatica may be caused by a number of factors including osteoarthritis, a herniated/ruptured disk, pinched nerve or slipped disk. When the nerve fibers become inflamed, the pain can be intense. Most of the time, sciatic pain occurs down one side of the body but has been known to affect both legs.
How can yoga help with sciatica?
Yoga can help relieve sciatic nerve pain and also help to prevent further problems from developing. With many pain management options available for sciatica, yoga is considered by many professionals to be one of the healthiest and most effective ways to treat and prevent it. Always double check with your doctor before trying any of the postures below.
As mentioned earlier; move slowly, mindfully and listen to your body. Feel free to perform these 5 yoga asanas as a sequence in the morning, afternoon or before bed.
1.) Seated Easy Twist
Seated Easy Twist is a wonderful posture for helping to restore normal spinal rotation. It lengthens the muscles around your spine and releases muscle tension. Additionally, this posture enhances the health of the discs and joints between the vertebrae.
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– Begin in Easy Pose with the legs crossed in front of you. Place two blocks beneath the knees if there is any pain or discomfort in the knee joints.
– Allow the sitting bones to settle into the mat and begin to connect with the hips and spine.
– Inhale and elongate the spine, reach both arms up to the sky.
– Exhale and slowly begin to twist to the right bringing the left hand to the outside of the right knee, plant the right hand behind you. Take a big breath here and notice what you are feeling.
– If you would like to deepen the posture, inhale and find length in the spine.
– Exhale as you begin to gaze over the right shoulder. Take three deep inhalations and exhalations, being mindful of anything that comes up within the body.
– When you are ready, slowly release the hands and come back to center.
– Cross the legs in the opposite direction and repeat on the other side.
2.) Child’s Pose or Supported Child’s Pose
Child’s pose helps to flex the lower spine and increases the size of passageways that help to reduce pain and irritation. This posture also helps to align the spine and takes pressure off of the lower back. In addition to helping relieve sciatica, child’s pose also improves circulation and helps to relieve fatigue.
– Begin in a table top position on all fours with knees and hands on the ground.
– Mindfully, begin to send the hips back and sit back between your knees (sending your buttocks towards your heels).
– While exhaling slowly, bring your chest towards the mat and allow the arms to settle alongside the body.
– Take 5-10 deep inhalations taking note of any sensations that arise in the body.
Modifications: Place a block beneath the forehead or a large bolster beneath the chest to reduce pressure on the knee joints.
3.) Cat / Cow Pose
Cat and Cow help to improve both posture and balance while increase the flexibility of the spine, neck, abdomen, back and hips. When performed mindfully, it is great at relieving lower back pain. This sequence promotes relaxation, calming of the mind and gently massages the internal organs promoting improved circulation and digestion.
– Begin in a table top position with hips directly over the knees. Spread the fingers wide.
– Inhale and gently lower your abdomen towards the floor, mindfully open the chest forward and gaze forward.
– Exhale and begin to move into Cat Pose by rounding through the spine, drawing the naval in and slowly dropping the chin.
– Practice this sequence with awareness and mindfulness, flowing through 5-10 deep breathes.
Modifications: If dropping the lower belly in Cow Post causes any aggravation in the spine, opt for Table Top position, maintaining a neutral spine, instead.
Here is a great video demonstrating Cat and Cow.
4.) Bridge Pose
Tight hip flexors are often the culprit of painful sciatica, which tend to originate from sitting for long hours. Bridge pose strengthens the glutes, inner thighs and lower back.
– Lie flat on your back, bend the knees and place the feet on the mat about hip width apart. Place your arms alongside the body, palms facing down.
– Press your feet into the floor. Inhale and lift the hips, activating the inner thighs. If you like, you can place a block between the thighs to ensure the inner thighs are active.
– Press down into the arms and shoulders as you lift the chest and hips off the mat.
– Hold for 5 cycles of breath.
– Slowly and mindfully, lower and roll the spine back down to your mat.
5.) Reclined Pigeon (aka Reclined Figure-4)
Reclined Pigeon increases flexibility of the piriformis muscle, groin, glutes, psoas and lengthens the hip flexors. Additionally this posture increases blood flow to the pelvis, the hips and the lower body.
– Laying flat on your back, bend both knees.
– Cross the right ankle over the left thigh somewhat close to the knee (creating a “4” shape).
– Thread the right hand between the legs and clasp the hands behind the left thigh or shin. You can also strap the leg if this feels too intense.
– Release the head and shoulders to the ground, relax the upper body as you draw the knees closer to the body.
– Hold for 5 deep inhalations and exhalations paying attention to what arises while in the posture.
– Slowly release the posture and repeat on the opposite side of the body.
These are just 5 of our recommended yoga poses to relieve sciatica. What are your favorite postures to relieve sciatica or lower back pain? Are there any modifications to these postures that you prefer?
We would love to hear your experience.
Share in the comments below.