Did you know that 40% of people suffer from sciatica pain in their lifetime? Sciatica (aka sciatic neuritis) is a condition that affects more than 3 million people in the US each year. It is characterized by pain radiating along the sciatic nerve, which runs from the lower back down one or both legs.
If you’re someone who has suffered from sciatica, then you already know how much it can negatively impact your life. Luckily, there are things you can do to ease your pain, such as practicing yoga for sciatica.
But with so many different yoga forms available, how do you know which one is best for treating sciatica pain? Check out this guide to learn about the best beginner-friendly yoga poses to help relieve your discomfort.
What is Sciatica?
First things first, what exactly is sciatica?
Sciatica actually refers to the sciatic nerve, which starts in the lower back and runs deep through the thighs and the buttocks.
Sciatica happens when the sciatic nerve is compressed, irritated, or injured. Injury to the sciatic nerve usually occurs due to muscle tightness, overuse, herniated disk, or similar injury.
Sciatica pain is characterized as a sharp, burning, or throbbing sensation that radiates through your leg. While for some people, sciatica is nothing more than a minor nuisance, others find that it causes serious pain and completely disrupts their day.
A study conducted in 2013 found that certain yoga poses can help with sciatica. This is because yoga has the ability to:
- Reduce chronic lower back pain
- Reduce pain associated with medication
- Improve limitations in certain activities
Yoga Stretches to Relieve Sciatica Pain
Now let’s take a deeper look at what yoga poses can specifically help with sciatica pain.
1. Reclined Pigeon Pose
The Reclined Pigeon Pose, also known as the Figure-4 Pose, works to stretch out the piriformis muscle, which is a muscle in the buttocks.
Here’s how you perform the reclined pigeon pose:
- Lie down on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
- Lift your right foot off the ground and cross your right ankle over your left thigh in order to create a figure-four shape.
- If this is enough – stay put!
- If you want to deepen the pose – lift your left foot and draw your left knee in towards your chest.
- Weave your arms around your left leg, interlace your fingers behind the thigh.
- Inhale and exhale, drawing your knee closer to your body with each exhale.
- Do this for 5 to 8 breaths and then repeat on the other side.
2. Bridge Pose
The bridge pose helps to stretch the hip flexors while at the same time strengthening the core and the glutes.
Here’s how you perform the bridge pose:
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the ground.
- Place your arms on the side of your body, with your palms facing down.
- Keep your feet hip-distance apart and walk them in close to your body.
- As you inhale, press your palms into the ground.
- As you exhale, lift your hips toward the ceiling.
- Hold for a few breaths, and then lower your hips back down to the ground.
- Repeat for 3 to 5 breaths.
3. Child’s Pose
The child’s pose is a great pose for lengthening and stretching your spine. It does wonders to relieve sciatica pain and helps relax your entire body while promoting flexibility and openness in the lower back, hips, and thighs.
Here’s how you perform the child’s pose:
- Start the pose on your hands and knees in a table position.
- Scoot your knees together, then sink your hips into the back of your heels – you should feel this in your lower back, hips, and quads.
- Either extend your arms in front of you or allow them to rest alongside your body.
- As your body falls into your thighs, allow your torso to completely relax.
- You can either rest your head on the floor or on a block for extra support.
- Focus on deep breathing, and hold the pose for 5 – 10 breaths.
4. Cobra Pose
The cobra pose is a great pose for strengthening your glutes and lower spine. To ensure that you’re engaging the correct muscles, you may even want to consider adding a block to this pose.
Here’s how you perform the cobra pose:
- Lie down on your stomach.
- Lift your legs one at a time in order to reset them. You can also internally rotate them in order to reset them. This helps create space in your sacrum so there’s no crunching in your lower spine.
- Place your hands on the ground below your shoulders.
- Use your core to push your tailbone down toward the ground and your upper body off the ground.
- As you lift your chest off the ground, inhale.
- To engage your inner thighs, squeeze the block.
- As you lift your chest off the ground, draw your shoulders back.
- Hold for a 4 – 6 breaths, and then repeat 3 to 5 times.
5. Cobbler’s Pose
The cobbler’s pose, also known as the bound angle pose is a gentle pose that helps to relieve tension in your hips and lower back.
Here’s how you perform the Cobbler’s Pose:
- Start by sitting down on the mat.
- Bend your knees and bring the soles of your feet together (as if you’re about to do the butterfly stretch).
- Allow your knees to open like a book and fall towards the ground as much as your body allows.
- Optionally, place blocks under your thighs for extra support.
- Breathe deeply as you sit up tall and lengthen your spine.
- For an added challenge, walk your hands forward on the mat and fold your body over your thighs.
- Hold this position for 5 slow breaths, then slowly walk your body up to the starting position.
- Repeat this 3 – 5 times.
6. Downward-Facing Dog
Downward-facing dog is one of the most popular yoga poses out there, and for a good reason. This pose helps to align your body and relieve pain and tightness.
It also promotes strength and balance throughout the entire body.
Here’s how you perform downward-facing dog pose:
- Start with your hands and feet on the ground in a plank pose, as if you’re about to do a pushup.
- As you lift your hips toward the ceiling, press into your hands.
- Drop your head down in order to keep your upper arms and ears aligned.
- Bend your knees to soften the pose and add a deeper stretch to your lower back.
- Relax your shoulders away from your ears.
- Peddle your feet (as one heel lifts, the other heel reaches for the floor and switch).
- Cycle through the pose for 3-5 breaths, come to child’s pose and repeat 1-2 more times.
Yoga for Sciatica: We’re Here to Help You!
There are quite a few yoga poses that can help with your sciatica pain.
Building a regular yoga practice is the best way to alleviate your sciatica discomfort, however, it can be challenging to do on your own. We can help!
Our team of highly trained yoga instructors can work with you to help reduce your hip pain! With an online private yoga class, you’ll be able to safely learn yoga in a class designed around your goals, taking place on your schedule, from the comfort of your home. Try it today!