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More than 3 million US adults are diagnosed with sciatica each year. Upper back pain, joint, and lower back pain can be excruciating, but there are certain yoga poses and stretches that can help! If you’re interested in exploring yoga for sciatica pain relief, try these gentle exercises at home or visit our yoga studio in Smithfield, NC.
What is Sciatica?
The sciatic nerve is located in your lower back and runs down through your buttocks, legs, and thighs. Sciatica is pain from the sciatic nerve that’s caused by irritation, compression, or a past injury to the nerve, lower back, or surrounding muscles.
Sciatica pain can be experienced in one or both legs – and is most often felt as a searing or shooting pain starting from the lower back. The pain can range from mild to severe, but one thing is true: if you experience sciatica, yoga can help.
How Yoga Helps Relieve Sciatica Pain
Yoga for sciatica can reduce lower back pain by stabilizing your core and increasing flexibility in your hips and spine. Research shows that yoga has the ability to:
- Reduce lower back pain
- Reduce muscle tightness
- Reduce the need for pain medications
However, you must be aware of the yoga poses you’re doing, how often you’re stretching the area, and whether or not you’re correctly engaging the yoga pose. If you have sciatica, it’s important to consult your doctor before starting any new exercise routine. You should also make your yoga instructor aware of your condition and be sure to choose a gentle yoga for sciatica class – not a fast-paced vinyasa krama.
Top Yoga Poses for Sciatica Relief
The cobra pose works your core while giving you a deep stretch in your lower back. This can give you exceptional relief from sciatica pain, but it’s important to do any yoga pose with a calm and mindful disposition. Ready to get started?
- To start, lie face down on the floor – preferably on your yoga mat.
- Place the palms of your hands on the floor near the bottom of your ribcage.
- Tuck your elbows into your sides.
- Inhale and gently lift only your chest off of the floor, leaving the top of your legs and feet on the floor – if you have a mirror nearby, your body should look like a ramp or arch.
- Hold this yoga pose for 15 – 30 seconds.
- On an exhale, gently lower your torso back to the starting position.
- Try to repeat this sciatica stretch at least 2 – 3 times.
The cat-dog post, or the cat-cow pose, targets lower back pain by stretching and strengthening the surrounding muscles. It improves spinal flexibility, posture, and balance by focusing on the forward and backward movement in your lower back. Check out how to do this gentle yoga pose!
- To start, carefully lower yourself onto all fours – with your knees and the palms of your hands flat on the floor.
- While inhaling, slowly tighten your lower abdominal muscles and arch your back toward the ceiling – pretend as if someone is pulling on a string that’s coming from between your shoulder blades. Think of the typical black Halloween cat with its arched back.
- Hold this cat position for 5 – 10 seconds.
- Exhale and return to the neutral starting position.
- Inhale and gently arch your lower back – as if you’re trying to get the top of your head and your tailbone to touch.
- Hold this cow position for 5 – 10 seconds.
- Exhale and return to the neutral starting position.
- Repeat this process as many times as you wish, but try for 5 – 10 reps.
The knees-to-chest pose is excellent for stretching out the muscles in your lower back and buttocks. This low-impact stretch is proven to be effective for pain relief – and it feels great! Let’s walk through how to do this beginner’s yoga for sciatica stretch.
- To start, carefully lower yourself to the floor and lay flat on your back.
- With your body flat on the floor and toes pointing up to the ceiling, inhale.
- When you exhale, slowly bend your knees, bringing your thighs gently to your chest. If bending both knees is too difficult or feels tight, just move one at a time and slowly alternate.
- With your back still flat on the floor, hug your arms around your knees.
- Hold this yoga pose for 30 seconds to a minute – or longer if it’s helping!
- On your next exhale, slowly lower your legs to the floor.
- Try to repeat this at least 5 times per leg. Of course, don’t continue if you feel pain.
The bridge pose is a low-impact strengthener that works to reduce sciatica pain by building the surrounding muscles. It’s so low-impact, that you may not even feel like it’s an actual stretch or exercise, but it’s proven to be an effective yoga for sciatica routine. This is one of our favorite yoga poses for lower back pain.
- To start, gently lower yourself to the floor.
- Lie on your back with both knees bent up in the air and feet flat on the ground.
- Your arms should remain flat on the floor with the palms of your hands facing down.
- Inhale and slowly raise your hips to the ceiling – raise them as far as you can, but the goal is to raise your hips so your body forms a straight incline from your shoulders to hips to knees.
- Hold this position for 5 – 10 seconds.
- Exhale and return to a neutral position with your tailbone flat on the floor.
- Try to repeat this movement at least 5 times.
Try a Yoga Class for Sciatica Pain Relief
Many studies have shown that yoga is an effective way to reduce sciatica pain. But what works for one person may not work for another. Carefully try out different yoga poses until you find a low-impact exercise that works for you.
If you’re looking for relief from lower back pain and are interested in yoga for sciatica movements, contact The Yoga Connection in Smithfield, North Carolina. Our highly-trained yoga instructors are eager to help you on your wellness journey. We offer standard yoga classes, and yoga therapy sessions! Let’s work together to find a yogic stretch that gives you long-lasting relief from your sciatica pain. Book a yoga class online or contact a yoga instructor today – we’re ready to help.