If you suffer from a radiating pain in your lower back and down through your leg, you may have sciatica. Here are seven easy, soothing yoga poses for sciatica pain relief.
Sciatica refers to pain radiating down the path of the sciatic nerve which branches down from your lower back through your hips and buttocks and down through each leg (1). In about 90 percent of cases, sciatica is caused by a herniated disc with nerve root compression, spinal stenosis, and injury (2).
Sciatica can be caused by prolonged sitting, carrying heavy loads, obesity, age, and diabetes. The most common symptoms include: radiating pain between the lower back and the buttocks (although it can occur anywhere along the sciatic pathway), numbness, tingling, or weakness on the affected side. In most cases, sciatica can be resolved with non-operative cases in a few weeks.
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Yoga has been shown to be safe and beneficial for both the treatment and prevention of sciatica (3). Pain, tenderness, rigidity, difficulty walking, and pain during forward bending can be significantly decreased (4) through the use of yoga asanas (poses). Specifically yoga poses for your lower back, hamstrings, and those that externally rotate the hip, can help you to feel better and might help relieve nerve root compression.
Use these yoga poses to relieve your sciatica. All you need is a yoga mat!
Embryo’s Pose | 10 breaths
Sitting often can lead to tightness in the lower back which can cause a pinching of the sciatic nerve. This relaxing yoga pose relieves tightness in the lower back and glutes, alleviating the pinching.
- Start on your hands and knees in a tabletop position. Bring your legs together and untuck your toes.
- Sit your hips back on your heels and walk your hands forward until your chest rests on your thighs and your forehead comes to the ground.
- Once your forehead is on the ground, bring your arms down alongside your legs so that your hands are reaching towards your feet. Turn your palms face up. Hold for 10 breaths.
Bridge Pose | 8 breaths
This pose helps to stretch tight hip flexors while strengthening the core to help avoid sciatica-causing injury.
- Begin by lying on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the ground. Place your arms down alongside your body with your palms face down. Keep your feet hip-width distance and walk them close to your body.
- Press your palms into the ground as you exhale and then inhale to lift your hips up towards the ceiling.
- Hold for 8 slow breaths in and out of the nose, then slowly roll back down onto your back one vertebra at a time.
Pigeon | 8 breaths
This pose alleviates tightness and pinching of the sciatic nerve through the release of the lower back, glutes, and hips.
- Start in a tabletop position on your hands and knees.
- Pick up your right leg and bring the shin forward so that it goes across the top of your mat. Line up your right knee behind your right wrist and keep the foot slightly flexed. Straighten your left leg back behind you with the toes untucked. The foot should be straight inline with your left hip. You should feel a stretch through your right outer hip and lower back.
- Lift your chest and take an inhale to find a long spine. Then, exhale and walk your hands forward towards the top of the mat. Tip: You can stay on your palms or if you are feeling open, lower to your forearms. Hold for 8 slow breaths.
Supine Figure 4 | 8 breaths per side
This stretch relieves compression of the sciatic nerve by stretching the glutes, piriformis, and the lower back.
- Begin by lying down on your back. Bend your knees and place your feet on the ground, hip-width distance apart.
- Bend your right knee and place your right ankle above your left knee on the thigh. Then, pick up the left foot and thread your right hand through your legs and interlace your hands behind your left thigh.
- Keep your head and shoulders on the ground as you hug the left thigh towards you. Keep your right knee open so that you feel the stretch through your outer right hip and low back. Hold for 8 breaths and then switch sides.
Baddha Konasana | 8 breaths
This gentle yoga pose relieves compression of the lower back and hips.
- Start seated on your mat.
- Bend your knees and bring the soles of your feet together. Then, allow your knees to fall outwards to a butterfly position.
- Inhale to sit up tall and lengthen your spine. Then take an exhale as your walk your hands forward and fold over your thighs. Hold for 8 slow breaths and then slowly sit back up on an inhale.
Janu Sirsasana | 8 breaths per side
This pose relieves tightness in the hips and glutes while also opening up the hamstrings. This can help those suffering from sciatica to improve their range of motion and ability to forward bend.
- Begin seated on your mat. Straighten your right leg out in front of you and bend your left knee. Place your left foot on your inner right thigh or calf.
- Sit up tall and take an inhale to find length through your spine. Reach your arms up overhead and draw your navel in to engage your core.
- On an exhale, reach your arms and chest forward to grab the bottom of your right foot. Bend your right knee as needed to reach the foot. Then, continue to fold over your right leg with a long spine. Hold for 8 slow breaths, then switch sides.
Crossed Ankle Forward Fold | 8 breaths per side
This pose relieves tension in the lower back, hamstrings, tensor fascia latae, and gluteus medius – helping to prevent or reduce compression on the sciatic nerve.
- Start by standing up on your mat. Cross your right ankle in front of your left and plant both feet firmly on the ground.
- Bring a bend into both knees and fold forward over your thighs with a flat back. Bring your hands to the floor, bending your knees more as needed. Tip: If you have trouble reaching the ground, use a yoga block for support.
- Walk your hands over to the right to feel the stretch deepen through the left hip and hamstrings. Hold for 8 slow breaths and then walk your hands back to center and stand up slowly. Switch sides.
(Your Next Workout: 10 Yoga Moves to Soothe Rheumatoid Arthritis Pain)