yoga for sciatica

Sciatica… sucks. And anyone who has it is well aware of this painful reminder. The pain is the result of a compression and inflammation of the spinal nerves which cause a sharp pain to radiate from the lower back down the leg and foot in a pattern determined by the affected nerve. It can feel electric in nature… but not in a good way.

Some aspects of yoga don’t seem to jive with sciatica, such as forward bends and twists. But other yoga poses are not only admissable, but are absolutely therapeutic, for the sciatica-suffering yogi.

Give these postures special attention in your practice to bring about maximum relief for sciatica.  

1. Supta Padangusthasana (Reclinging Hand-to-Toe Pose): Lie down on your back, legs extended long. Bend your right leg and place a yoga strap around your foot and then straighten your leg into the sky, holding onto each end of the strap with your hands. While keeping both legs straight and tight, draw your leg toward your nose. Take 6 deep breaths. Then, transfer the straps into your right hand and slowly drop the leg out to the right, keeping both hips grounded (also, keep the leg straight while doing this). Take 6 deep breaths and then return the leg to center and remove the strap. Repeat this on the left side.

2. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog): The yoga pose of all yoga poses. From the top of a push up, lift your booty into the sky. Spread your fingers, press the earth away. Let your intention be to lengthen your spine. Draw your heels toward the earth. Spend at least 5 deep, full breaths here. 

3. Parsvokanasana (Extended Side Angle): From Downward Facing dog, inhale your right leg into the sky (hips level). Exhale, step your foot in between your hands. Plant your back foot down. You can take your right forearm onto your right thigh (knee stacked over ankle) or let your fingertips stay on the floor beside your right foot. Reach your left arm over your left ear, palm facing down. Rotate your heart open, right hip drawing underneath you. Take 6 breaths.

4. Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon): From Extended Side Angle, take your gaze in front of your right toes. Reach your right fingertips onto the ground or a block about a foot in front of your toes and launch off your back leg for Half Moon. Fire up through your left leg, foot flexed, hips stacked open. Reach your left hand into the sky. Spend 5 breaths here before slowly lowering to a lunge and then step back to Downward Facing Dog to take this sequence on the other side. 

Whatever anyone says, the most important thing for you to do – always – is to listen to your body. When pain comes up, back off. Pain is never a good sign, and is always an indication that you are pushing yourself beyond your edge. 

image: lululemon athletica