Yoga for Sciatica

Nadia Santiago
woman doing yoga

Yoga for sciatica involves stretching and strengthening your legs and hips. Tight hamstrings, tight glutes, and a shortened psoas can pull on your sciatic nerve and lower back. Reduce or relieve sciatic pain by introducing poses that directly target these muscles.

Staff Pose

Staff pose is a seated forward bend with your feet and legs together. Since your hamstrings may be stiff, try sitting on top of a blanket or block to assist the stretch. You can also bend your knees slightly to access your hamstrings more fully. As an alternative, try the wide-legged seated fold.

Standing Wide-Legged Fold

The standing wide-legged forward bend is simply performed standing with your feet wide and bent at the hips. A just-as-easy alternative is to perform your standing forward bend with your feet together. Bend your knees a bit to make sure you're accessing the back of your legs and to protect your back.

Pyramid Pose

Pyramid Pose

Pyramid pose is a deep and intense stretch for your hamstrings and outer hips.

  1. Begin in a standing forward fold with your feet together.
  2. Step one foot toward the back edge of your mat and place it at a 45 degree angle so that your toes are facing the top corner of your mat.
  3. Square your hips to the front of your mat and folder over your front leg.

For the full expression of this pose, both legs should be straight. However, a slight bend in the front knee is okay for those whose hamstrings are inflexible. You can also make pyramid a bit more comfortable by taking a shorter stance and placing your hands on blocks.

Spinal Twist

Spinal Twist

The seated spinal twist is most commonly known for its benefits of stretching spinal muscles. It also targets the glutes, which is what helps to relieve pressure for those with sciatica. For a gentler, more relaxing practice, try a reclining spinal twist.

  1. Begin by lying on your back.
  2. Hug your left knee in toward your chest.
  3. Rotate your knee over to the right side of your body, placing your right hand on your knee and extending your left arm out to the left. Your chest faces the ceiling.

Relax here for as long as feels comfortable. If this feels a bit too intense, a simple way to modify is to rotate both knees together.

Leg Cradle Pose

Leg cradle pose is a position that resembles a person holding a baby in his or her arms, only you're cradling your leg instead. While this posture is usually performed while seated on the floor, for some it may be easier to do while sitting in a chair. It will mobilize your hips by stretching your glutes.

Low Lunge

Low Lunge

A low lunge strengthens the glutes while stretching the hip flexors.

  1. Begin in a standing forward bend with your feet together.
  2. Step one foot toward the back edge of your mat and lower the knee to the ground.
  3. Lift your torso up and raise your arms alongside you ears. Engage your inner thighs for balance.
  4. Gently press your hips forward, making sure to firm your abdominals and keep your hips square to the front of your mat.

For a deeper, more intense lunge, try lizard pose with your knee on or off the mat.

Pigeon

Pigeon pose is perfect for releasing the glutes. If your hips are very tight, place a rolled up blanket underneath the hip of your bent leg. Bring your forearms to the floor for a more relaxing experience.

Cobra

Cobra pose strengthens the muscles of your back and lengthens your psoas. If you're trying this move for the first time, be sure to start off slowly by keeping your hips down and lifting your chest only slightly off the floor.

Warrior Three

Warrior Three

Warrior three builds muscle in the entire posterior chain, including your hamstrings, glutes, lower and upper back.

  1. Begin in warrior one.
  2. Lift your back heel, squaring your hips to the front of your mat and leaning into your front leg.
  3. Straighten your front leg and lift your back leg off the floor so that your torso and leg are parallel to the ground.

If you have a hard time remaining balanced, place your hands on a set of blocks. For very tight hips, bend the knee of your standing leg. It will help keep your hips facing forward.

Ease Into Yoga Poses

Yoga poses that stretch and strengthen your hip flexors, glutes, hamstrings, and lower back muscles are useful tools to help reduce sciatic pain. The best thing you can do is move these muscles on a daily basis, so that you can steadily move toward recovery. Be mindful of how your body feels as you try each pose. Ease into them slowly to avoid overextending yourself, and over time, you may be able to find relief.

Was this page useful?
Yoga for Sciatica