The sciatic nerve is the longest and widest single nerve in the human body, running deep in the buttocks and thigh and stretching from the top of the leg to the foot. It provides sensation for the skin off the leg, the foot and the muscles of the back of the thigh, the leg and the foot.
Compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve is called sciatica. People experience sciatica differently. In your body it might be a mild ache, a sharp burning sensation or excruciating pain.
With the daily practice of a few simple yoga poses, you can help prevent and soothe sciatica.
No mat or special gear is needed to perform these five poses shown to help sciatica. Practice in the morning or at night to maintain a feeling of well-being, or whenever you are experiencing symptoms to lessen the pain.
1. Pigeon Pose Variations
Pigeon Pose works to lengthen the piriformis, a muscle in the hip and glute that can compress the sciatic nerve if it’s too tight.
Depending on the tightness of your muscles, you may choose to create a figure 4 shape, leaning your legs against the wall, lie on your back for a Reclined Pigeon or come forward on your legs for a traditional Pigeon Pose.
💡 Tips for Pigeon Pose:
Protect your knees by keeping the toes active and engaged.
Remember to breathe deeply in whichever pose variation you choose.
2. Cobbler’s Pose
Cobbler’s Pose lengthens your inner thighs and resets the hips and lower back.
Cobbler’s Pose can be done sitting up or lying down for a deeper stretch, depending on what is comfortable for you and feels right in your body.
💡 Tips for Cobbler’s Pose:
Don’t push your knees open, time will help to soften this posture. Relax and breathe deeply.
3. Knees to Chest Post
Knees to Chest Pose relieves tightness in your lower back, hips and glutes.
Lie on your back and move both knees to the chest, pulling your knees and ankles to touch.
If this is too much, bring one leg to the chest at a time and let the other outstretch.
💡 Tips for Knees to Chest Pose:
If it feels good in your body, rock side to side. To deepen the stretch, lift your head and tuck your chin into your chest.
4. Child’s Pose
This pose lengthens and stretches the spine while opening the lower back, hips and thighs.
Starting on all fours, put the heels together, open the knees and sink your hips back to meet the heels. Extend the arms out. You may also choose to keep the knees touching, folding over the thighs as you extend the arms out.
💡 Tips for Child’s Pose:
Stay in Child’s Pose as long as you like. Breathe deeply.
5. Runner’s Lunge
Runner’s Lunge helps to relieve sciatica by opening the hips and lengthening the hip flexors which may contribute to a pelvic tilt.
Find what feels good in your body by trying different variations of the pose. Place one hand on each side of the foot to lengthen the hip flexor and hamstring. Try putting both hands on one side of the foot for a different sensation. Maybe lower the forearms for a deeper stretch.
💡 Tips for Runner’s Lunge:
In Runner’s Lunge, the knee of your outstretched leg is on the ground. If you have sensitive knees, you may instead opt for High Lunge.
Look forward, opening the chest.