Yoga for Sciatica: 7 Best Poses For Sciatica Pain Relief

Yoga for Sciatica: 7 Best Poses For Sciatica Pain Relief

Yoga and Sciatica? Who would think the two would ever be used in the same sentence. If you are having a sciatica flare-up, my guess is you probably can't imagine getting into a contorted yoga pose. But keep your mind open, all yoga is not contortion, and sometimes your back needs an unconventional stretch.

Yoga is a mind and body practice with a 5,000-year history in ancient Indian philosophy. Various styles of yoga combine physical postures, breathing techniques, and meditation or relaxation.

It has more recently become a form of physical exercise based upon poses that focus on improved control of the mind and body and improve well-being.

Can Stretching Make Sciatica Pain Worse?

Yes, it can. Because sciatica involves your sciatic nerve, there is always a chance of flaring it up with exercise, stretching, or even staying in one position for too long. That is why extreme caution should be used when starting anything new.

It's also important to note that nerves have no elasticity. Unlike muscles that thrive on being stretched, nerves don't share the same sentiment. In fact, if you put too much tension on a nerve, it's likely to feel terrible, and if you don't back off right away, you may end up in pain.

With that being said, proceed with caution when stretching. If you feel pain, then back off until you don't feel pain. If you can't get to a pain-free place with the stretch, avoid it and try again.

Is Yoga Good For Sciatica?

A 2017 research review found that yoga isn’t effective enough to be a blanket recommendation for sciatica — but another 2017 study concluded that yoga could:

  • - Improve flexibility

  • - Soothe frequent lower back pain

  • - Reduce the need for pain medication associated with lower back pain

      7 Best Yoga Poses for Sciatica Pain Relief


      1. Bharadvaja's Twist

    1. Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. Lean toward the right, bend your knees, and swing your legs to the left.

    2. Lay your feet on the floor outside your left hip, with the left ankle resting in the arch of the right foot.

    3. Inhale to lift the chest to lengthen the front torso. Then exhale and twist your torso to the right, keeping the left buttock on or very close to the floor. Keep your low back strong and relax your belly.

    1. Tuck your left hand under your right knee and bring your right hand to the floor just beside your right buttock.

    1. Pull your left shoulder back slightly, squeezing your shoulder blades together as you continue to twist your chest to the right.

    You can turn your head in either direction. To the right to continue the twist of the torso or to the left to counter the twist your torso.

    2. Bound Angle Pose

    1. Sit with your legs straight out in front of you.

    2. Exhale, bend your knees, bringing your heels toward your pelvis, then drop your knees out to the sides and press the soles of your feet together.

    3. With the first and second finger and thumb, grasp the big toe of each foot.  Always keep the outer edges of the feet firmly on the floor.

    4. Inhale to lift the chest and lengthen the torso. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and make sure your shoulders aligned with your hips.

    5. Never force your knees down.

    3. Cobra Pose

    1. Lie prone on the floor with your legs extended out behind you.

    2. Spread your hands shoulder-width apart on the floor. Pull your elbows in toward your body.

    3. Press the tops of the feet and thighs and the pubis firmly into the floor.

    4. Inhale and begin to straighten your arms to lift your chest off the floor, keeping your pelvis and legs in contact with the floor.

    5. Gently push your pelvis toward the floor and pull your belly button in towards your spine.

    6. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and puff out your ribs.

    7. Lift through the top of the sternum but avoid pushing the front ribs forward. Keep your spine aligned with your tail bone.

    Hold for 15 to 30 seconds, breathing easily. Exhale when you release the pose.

    4. Dolphin Pose

    1. Begin the pose on your hands and knees. Keep your knees aligned with your hips and your forearms on the floor with your shoulders aligned with your wrists.

    2. Firmly press your palms together and your forearms into the floor.

    3. At first, keep the knees slightly bent and the heels lifted away from the floor. Lengthen your tailbone and tuck it slightly forward.

    4. Bring your toes and the balls of your feet to the floor, exhale and lift your knees away from the floor.

    5. At first, keep the knees slightly bent and the heels lifted away from the floor. Lengthen your tailbone and tuck it slightly forward.

    6. Try straightening your knees, but if your upper back rounds, it's best to keep them bent.

    7. Continue to lengthen your spine and lift your chest from the floor.

    Hold for 30 seconds to one minute. Exhale when releasing the pose.

    5. Half Moon Pose

    1. Start with your right side; keep your left hand resting on the left hip. The toes of your right foot are pointing toward the right.

    2. Inhale, bend your right knee, and slide your left foot and leg out to the left side. Keep the left toes pointing forward, keep your ankles, knees, and hips aligned on both legs.

    3. At the same time, reach your right hand out to the side and place it on the floor about 12 inches from your big toe.

    4. Exhale, press your right hand and right heel firmly into the floor, and straighten your right leg, simultaneously lifting the left leg parallel (or a little above parallel) to the floor.

    5. Extend actively through the left heel to keep the raised leg strong. Don't lock the standing knee and keep the knee cap facing forward.

    6. Rotate your upper torso to the left, but keep the left hip facing forward.

    7. Most beginners should keep the left hand on the left hip and the head in a neutral position, gazing forward.

    Stay in this position for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Exhale when releasing the post and perform on the other side for the same period of time.

    6. Marichi's Pose

    1. Start in a long sitting position, bend your right knee, put your foot on the floor.

    2. Bring your right heel as close to your body as you can. Keep the left leg straight and rotated slightly inward.

    3. Press the back of the left heel and the base of the big toe away from the pelvis.

    4. Push through the straight-leg thigh and bent-knee foot to lengthen your spine,

    5. With an exhalation, rotate your torso to the right and wrap your left arm around the right thigh.

    6. Hold your outer thigh with your left hand and gently pull.

    7. Press your right fingertips onto the floor just behind your pelvis to lift the torso slightly up and forward.

    Stay in the pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Exhale when releasing the post. Reverse the legs and twist to the left for the same period of time.

    7. High Lunge

    1. Start in a plank position on the floor, bend your knees, and with an inhale, step your left foot back toward the back edge of your mat, with the ball of the foot on the floor.

    2. Step back far enough so you can bend your right knee to about 90 degrees.

    3. Lean forward over your right thigh and place your hands on the floor, one on each side of your foot. Look forward.

    4. Simultaneously, firm the left thigh and push it up toward the ceiling, holding the left knee straight.

    5. Stretch your left heel toward the floor.

    Stay in the pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Exhale when releasing the post. Reverse the legs and twist to the left for the same period of time.

    What Yoga Poses Should you Avoid with Sciatica?

    Sciatica can be somewhat fickle, so don't be surprised if something that you can do one-day may cause a flare-up on another. Every pose you do should be done with caution but here are a few things to avoid altogether:

    • ~Any poses where you bend over at the waist (except the downward dog or dolphin pose).

    • ~Any poses that worsen shooting pains, pins and needles, or other sciatica symptoms.

    • ~Any poses with a lot of twisting that put pressure on your back or belly.

    You can try sitting on rolled up towels, a folded blanket or cushions to make you more comfortable while sitting on the floor. Just remember you are doing this for pain relief so it shouldn't cause any pain at all.

    Wrapping Up

    There you have it! 7 great yoga poses for sciatic pain and some things to avoid too. Remember to take a day at a time and always listen to your body. Start with one pose at a time so you will know which ones you are tolerating and which ones if any are causing a flare up of sciatic pain. You may find that one or two work really well for you and if that's the case then stick with them. Good luck!



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