The Best Yoga Poses to Soothe Sciatic Nerve Pain

The Best Yoga Poses to Soothe Sciatic Nerve Pain
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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.

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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.

I wrote a number of extremely popular articles on how to outsmart sciatic pain and about the top 8 natural treatments for sciatic pain. This time I want to show you how yoga can help you with sciatic 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 poseSupta Padangusthasana

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  • 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.

pose1

Staff poseDandasana

This is the basic seated pose.

  • Sit with your legs outstretched and your palms touching the floor by the sides of your body.
  • Flex your feet back, so you give your legs a good stretch.
  • Sit straight and make your spine long, as if you were pulled up by a string.
  • Beginners can put some padding under the buttocks.

pose2

King pigeon poseEka Pada Rajakapotasana

This is the strongest of the piriformis stretches.

  • Start on your hands and knees or from the ‘downward facing dog’ pose.
  • Bring your right knee forward and out and put your right foot in line with the left hip. Your shin should be at 45o
  • Release your left leg on the floor behind you and slowly slide it back while bringing your body forwards. When you reach the final position, the left toes are pressing down into the mat.
  • Hold for a few breaths.
  • Repeat on the left side.
  • If you find the position too challenging, you can use a table to support yourself. Place your right leg up on a table, with the knee out and right foot in line with the left hip. Place your hands on the table for support and lean forward. Walk your left foot back.

pose3

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Standing twist

  • Place a chair against the wall.
  • Stand with your right hip next to the wall, so you face the chair.
  • Put your right foot on the chair and keep your knee bent.
  • Your standing leg should be straight and you can press your right hand against the wall for balance.
  • Lift your left heel up and turn your body towards the wall. Use hands for support.
  • Exhale, and lower your heel to the floor, but maintain the twist for a few breaths.
  • Return to the starting position.
  • Repeat the same on the left side.

pose4

Preparation for spinal twist

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  • Sit with your knees bent and your feet on the floor in front of you.
  • Bring your right foot around and place it outside of your left hip.
  • Your left foot should be on the floor, either on the inside or outside of you right knee (depending on your mobility and intensity of the stretch).
  • Make sure that the weight is evenly distributed across your buttocks.
  • Hold your left knee with your hands and hold the position for several breaths.
  • Repeat on the other side.

pose6

 Simple Seated Twist

  • Start with the preparation pose.
  • Turn the body towards the upward knee.
  • Place your left hand behind you and complete the full turn whilst holding the left knee with your right hand.
  • Don’t go to deeply into the twist or you risk worsening the piriformis syndrome.
  • Repeat the twist on the other side.

pose5

Cow’s face poseGomukhasana

This is a passive stretch.

  • Sit on the floor upright and extend your legs forward as you do for the ‘staff pose’.
  • Bend your right knee and bring your right leg across the left leg.
  • Bring your right foot close to your outer left hip.
  • Move your left foot across the midline, so it’s slightly diagonal to the body.
  • Your right hand is on the floor and your left hand is holding the right foot. Your right knee is above your left.
  • Keep your spine extended as you hold the position for a few breaths.
  • Repeat the same on the other side.

pose7

For more yoga stretches for sciatic pain read my article (which also includes a video) effective yoga stretches for sciatic pain.

You can also read my other posts to learn how to naturally treat sciatica:

Sources:
http://yoga.about.com/od/yogatherapy/tp/Yoga-Stretches-for-Sciatica.htm
http://backandneck.about.com/od/sciatica/f/piriformis.htm
http://www.spine-health.com/conditions/herniated-disc/whats-a-herniated-disc-pinched-nerve-bulging-disc
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16 Responses to The Best Yoga Poses to Soothe Sciatic Nerve Pain

  1. jisamali kaur says:

    Useful methods to help sciatica pain

  2. Umera Sikander says:

    Its realy helpful

  3. Bob says:

    Thank you so much iam going to try this.

  4. Hari Prasad Gautam says:

    I have some uneasy feeling in the upper part of my backbone . As if the hind part around my neck is tired . I feel it when I have to work at desktop. Kindly suggest some useful tips/yoga.

    • Jenny says:

      You probably need to do more neck and shoulders stretches/exercises (for example see the first 3 exercises in my article about posture here). You can also find more exercises for the upper back and shoulders in my other article). Take breaks from sitting in front of your desk every now and then and do some of the stretches/exercises.

  5. Having trouble with sciatic pain. Need your exercises. Can’t remember them. Need a book or something to remind me how to do them.

  6. Teresa Colley says:

    will yoga help pain in my back after surgery I have 4 rods in my back

  7. Aidi says:

    I have disc prolapse disc on L4, L5 n S1.. I always encounter painful at my back down thru mu right leg. I loose stability on my right leg. If i choose to do the surgery is it the best option.. It has been 10 months already after i had my MRI result.. My Dr advised me to do some injection on my back. I dont know what it called..

    • Jenny says:

      Hi Aidi, I was in a similar situation. I had herniated disk which caused severe sciatic pain and lack of mobility. I had it for several months and I’ve tried physio, chiropractor, certain exercises but the situation deteriorated. I was offered a surgery or injections, as carrying the situation for long time can cause permanent nerve damage. I wasn’t willing to do a surgery and started from injection. Unfortunately it didn’t help. My situation deteriorated quickly and I was unable to move. I ended up with an emergency surgery. You can start from injection instead of running to do a surgery, and evaluate your situation with your doctor. I went to a specialist who advised me that there is a possibility to give 3 injections a month apart, but usually if there is no improvement after the first one, they usually recommend a surgery. I insisted to try a second injection, and was scheduled a time for it, but during the wait the situation deteriorated, I couldn’t walk and had severe pain, and a surgery was inevitable. Because my condition was so bad, I felt much better several days after the surgery than before. I still had some pain, but at least I could walk. I recovered quickly and I’m fine now.

  8. Mia says:

    Aidi, the injection is called an epidural. I have had many of them, as well as 3 back surgeries. I am also a nurse so am coming at this from a few perspectives. By no means does lack of success after one injection mean you need to automatically have surgery. Some people do recover well after surgeries. I have a cage at L5-S1 and though that was successful, I remain in constant severe pain. What happens after surgery on a disc is that the remaining discs take more pressure as a result of missing disc elsewhere. It depends on the cause of your herniated disc and the health of your remaining discs/vertebrae. I HIGHLY recommend massage therapy with an EXPERIENCED massage therapist, focusing on your piriformis, iliopsoas, hamstrings, lower back. It could seriously prevent you from having surgery at all. If you do not have the money, as tey can be expensive, try massage therapy schools. Do your research. They have clinic days that are a fraction of the price of regular massage therapists. Just remember they are learning, but can even be better, as they are doing they’re absolute best to do everything correctly. I believe massage could prevent %50 of all surgeries. Additionally, regular stretching, ice, and anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen, or natural versions being turmeric, or Herb Pharm Nervous System Tonic, may all help. Relaxation is very important. The more stressed you are, the more caffeine you drink, and the more you bend or sit for long periods, the worse you will be. There are many things you can do pre-surgery. I would choose a second injection and all of the above, personally. Surgery…I would choose as a last result, but don’t wait too long. If you have pressure on the nerves, it can cause permanent nerve damage. Good luck to you.

    • Narayanan says:

      Thank You Mia. Very valuable information. I developed this pain about 3 to 4 months ago. Have finally managed to get an appointment fixed with an ortho doctor. While waiting I have been suffering with the pain not knowing what i should do. At least you have laid out some direction and possibilities. TQ very much. Will let you know how my journey goes.

  9. Fiona Hickman says:

    Also try tge yoga squat….helped me tremendously

  10. Bill says:

    I have been diagnosed with stenosis in the last vertebra where the opening has narrowed on the nerve. I have been fortunate to not be experiencing pain;however, I continue to have numbness in the left ball of my foot and toes.
    Is there any exercise which will help get rid of the numbness?

    • Jenny Hills says:

      I personally don’t know. I think the best and safest way to do is to consult with a professional practitioner such as physiotherapist or chiropractor. I suffered from serious sciatic pain and foot numbness and went to see a physiotherapist and chiropractor who tried to do some manipulations to relieve the pain and numbness in my foot, however my case was severe and deteriorated quickly and I ended up having a surgery.

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