Yoga Exercises for Sciatica
Exercises of Sciatica during yoga practice heavily involve the spine and aim to develop space between the vertebrae. Yoga helps us extend the spine (and many other areas of the body) through moving, twisting, and flexing.
Yoga is great for managing your Sciatic pain. Relief and prevention exercises to assist your recovery.
For immediate sciatica relief, focus on deeper stretching poses such as the Seated Spinal Twist, the King Pigeon, the Standing Pigeon and the Reclining Pigeon pose. All poses will assist in sciatica prevention.
Seated Spinal Twist
Take your left foot under your right knee and around to the outside of your right hip. Your left knee should point straight forward. Place the right foot on the floor near the outer left thigh. Press both sit bones down, inhale, and lift through the top of the head to elongate the spine. Exhale, draw the lower belly in and turn to the right, without losing the vertical alignment of the spine. Place your right hand on the floor behind the pelvis, and the left hand on the knee to guide the upward lift through the torso. Feel the deep abdominal muscles engaging to draw you into the twist, and be careful not to tilt the pelvis or arch the lower back. Draw the shoulder blades down the back, keep the chin level and the back of the neck long as you turn the head to look over the shoulder. Draw a little taller on each inhale, and twist a little deeper on each exhale. Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Louisa Larson
Lie on your back. Bend your knees and place your feet on the floor. On an exhale, bring your left ankle onto your right knee. Breathe and relax. Hold the back of your right thigh and pull the knee toward you for a few breaths. Drop your back ribs to the floor and breathe. Now flex your right foot aiming to bring your right shin parallel to the ceiling. Support the right knee with your right hand, holding behind the knee. Keep the sides of your waist soft. Pause here and observe. Gently stretch only. Repeat the other side.
If the King Pigeon Stretch is too intense or difficult, try a variation: Place your right leg up on a table and lean forward, using your hands on the table for balance, as you walk your left foot back.
Repeat the other side.
Begin on all fours with your knees slightly behind your hips. Line up your wrist creases parallel with the front edge of your mat, spread your fingers evenly apart. Bend your knees to start, and make sure they point straight ahead. Root through the balls of your big toes and keep your finger pads and the mounds below your fingers rooted to the mat. Externally rotate your upper arms to broaden your upper shoulder blades and release tension in your neck. Align the back of your skull with the back of your pelvis so you're not looking up, but not dropping your chin either. To straighten your legs, press the tops of your thighs back, but if your low back rounds, keep your knees bent
Lie on your belly with the tops of your feet on the floor, hip-distance apart. Stretch back so your feet point straight back and press your toenails (especially your pinky) into the floor. Engage your low belly. Bend your elbows and place your palms on the floor beside you so that your elbows are stacked over your wrist creases. (If wrists under elbows feel too intense begin with your hands a little farther forward). Bow your head slightly and look toward the floor. Lift the fronts of your shoulders away from the floor. Keep your head slightly bowed forward, and on an inhale, lift your chest to move into the backbend. Keep your gaze forward or move the back of your head back slightly to follow the lift of your chest, keeping the back of your neck long. Do not straighten your elbows if you feel uncomfortable.
Child’s Pose connects with your back body. Rest forward over your thighs and relax. You can use your hands or a rolled blanket for extra support under your head. Lay your arms by your side. Become aware of your breath. Feel your back rise with your inhale and draw in with the exhale. Focus on the inhale traveling down the spine and the exhale traveling back up. Feel the ribs expand with your inhale and contract with the exhale. If your hips are feeling tight, take your knees wide and bring your big toes together. It allows your chest to melt toward the mat and your hips to receive a deeper opening. If your hips are still tight or you’re experiencing knee pain, slide a blanket between your calves and hamstrings. You can also bring your arms out in front of you, palms down, and press your hands into the mat.
Standing Back Bend
Begin by standing with your feet hip-distance apart in mountain pose. Extend the arms up overhead and bring the palms to touch. Distribute your body weight equally on both feet, and relax your shoulders away from ears. Engage your thighs and relax your buttocks to avoid crunching in your lower back. Push hips forward, gently lift and broaden your sternum upward, breathe in and begin bending back from torso. Gaze forward unless comfortable looking up. Arms may extend skyward alongside ears if this doesn't hurt your neck. Hold for a few breaths. Slowly return to mountain pose.
Standing Forward Bend
Stand with your feet inner hip-width apart, center your weight over the arches of your feet. Bring your hands to your hips, or inhale your arms up overhead. Stabilise below your big toes and outer heels. Press your feet apart like you're stretching your mat in two, and maintain. On an exhale, hinge forward from your hip creases (bending your knees here is fine!). Avoid leading with your chin, and keep your belly active and don’t shift your weight into your heels. Bring your fingertips to the floor (or blocks), and press to engage your deep core muscles. Straighten your legs till you feel the stretch in the middle part of your hamstrings. If you feel the pull near your sitting bones you've straightened your legs too much. Relax your head, face, and jaw