The other day in my beginner’s class I had someone with sciatic problems. It was a slow day in the studio (meaning horror of yoga teacher horrors) he was the only student in my class; but what that meant for him was he got a handcrafted class.
Sure I know a couple poses to help with sciatica, but wasn’t sure how exactly to help beyond the basics. That’s the thing with being a yoga teacher – you never know what ailment you’re going to be faced with when you walk in to teach. So while I was able to give him a good beneficial one on one easy does it class and he was thankful, I wanted to delve into this question of yoga & sciatica a little further. Here is what I found.
Poses & Sequencing for Sciatic Nerve Pain
And old classic and the place to start is downward facing dog. Down dog can help with all sorts of problems, from blood pressure to migraines to relieving sciatica! Spread your fingers wide and really press your tailbone up and back for full benefits. To ease into the pose try bending and straightening through opposite knees like you’re pedaling a bike before moving into the full expression.
Another great pose is your side angle pose. To get into this from downward facing dog bring your right leg forward and lift into warrior one. Open into warrior two and then place the elbow on the knee or the hand onto the mat, reaching your opposite fingertips over your head and stack your shoulders and hips paying special attention to draw that top hip back. This will stretch you through your side body and release tension in your back. Repeat on the opposite side.
From side angle pose you can find your way into half moon pose. From warrior two bring your back hand onto you hip, balance into the front leg and slowly fly your back leg off the mat placing your opposite hand down about six inches or a foot in front of the grounded foot. Slowly open your hips stacking one on top of the other and release the fingertips of the back hand into the air. Hold there and repeat on the other side!
Other poses to work while you move from one asana to the next is warrior one, two or three, breathing through each pose and holding for at least five breaths.
Between poses standing in mountain pose with special attention to posture can also help you.
Holding upward facing dog & gazing over your right shoulder and then left will ease pain in your back. From there pressing back into a child’s pose will help you relax through your back.
Finding your way into a to seated position, reach your legs forward and take it into a very easy seated forward fold. Nothing too fancy. From here come to laying on your back.
Work half bridge pose three times. Rooting the feet behind your sit bones, toes pointed forward. Bring your shoulder blades together beneath you and slowly lift through the hips. Hold for five breaths and repeat twice more.
Release both legs out long in front of you and come to laying on your back. Lift your right leg into the air to a 90 degree angle, flexing the toes towards your face & using a strap or a towel over the foot pull the leg taunt and slightly towards you. Keep those strong toes flexed! Repeat on the other side.
Inversions you may want to work at the end of your practice are shoulder stand & headstand.
And remember to always take your savasana!
Thanks again and practice carefully!