Sciatica Yoga Poses

These are sciatica poses based on yoga therapy that I used to heal my own sciatica. More often than not, sciatica is a result of poor movement patterns, which over time can induce specific mis-alignments or medical conditions that create sciatic symptoms. Once poor movement habits are identified, learning how to create new movement patterns, by mindfully moving, can be a successful way to treat and eliminate sciatica for good.

Top 10 yoga poses for sciatica relief:

1. Press your feet: When walking, standing or balancing, use the four corners of your
feet pressing into the ground as anchors from which you lengthen and resist the
gravitational pull to the earth.

2. Easy with the toes: spread the toes wide and when walking, fan them out as if they
had little headlights on them and they are lighting the path for you as you walk. Avoid
as much as possible wearing flip flops for long distances. Flip flops make you grip
with the toes, rather than pressing the whole foot for stability. Sandals with a strap
across the top of the foot and behind the heel are better.

3. Notice where your weight falls on the foot: Many times while standing and walking,
the weight of the entire body will fall predominantly to the back of the foot and either
on the inside or outside. Make sure that you are conscious of the weight pressing
evenly, front back and side to side.

4. Unlock your knees!!! Many times when standing around or walking, the knees will
lock. This movement is very aggressive to not only the knee joint, but the entire
kinesthetic chain of events that occurs after. Movement should be “softly strong”, and
the knees should consciously always have a supportive micro-bend in them.

5. Donʼt squeeze your glutes!!!! Many times, especially for those to tend to lock the
knees, squeezing the glutes is closely related to sciatic symptoms. This happens
unconsciously. Clenching the buns together puts the hips in external rotation, which
has a chain of events that leads to compressing on the sciatic nerve.

6. Learn about hip internal rotation. Much of the time, because of gravity and the way
the femurs are set in the hip joint, we are walking around in hip external rotation. This
is why we are so keen on squeezing the glutes, and thus, the sciatic nerve is
compressed. There are many exercises (such as many Yoga postures) to strengthen
hip internal rotation muscles, thus taming pressure of the nerve. Once these muscles
are stronger, learning how to use them in locomotion is the goal.

7. Core Strength, Core Strength, Core Strength. Its not just about learning how to get
your core strong, but also about using the core strength as the fulcrum from which
every movement originates from and goes back to. Much of the time when moving,
the center point of strength is not from the core, but somewhere else (lower back,
shoulders, etc.). Learning how to move from your center cannot be left out.

8. Keeping the ribs in and dropping the chest. Preconceptions about proper posture
have been to puff the chest up and the front ribs out. This takes you away from your
center of gravity (the core) and dumps all the weight ultimately into the lower back.
Learning how to cinch the ribs in towards the belly button and melt the chest with it,
but still maintain broad collarbones and a long neck, will help utilize and center your
core strength.

9. As a result of the puffed up chest, the shoulders assume much of the load. The
shoulders are a delicate suspension mechanism whose main job is to attach your
arms to your body. Much of the time, when moving, they take on too much weight
(think shoulders crunched up by your ears). Learning to keep the shoulders relaxed
down, yet broad in the collarbones and the upper back, will help redistribute the
weight back to the core.

10. Breath. Believe it or not, the way you breathe is the foremost exercise to learn how
to stabilize your movement and center the weight of gravity back to the core. This is
why Yoga is such an incredible tool for structural healing, as consistent mindful breath
is the foundation. By being conscious of the breath, you are not only strengthening
and utilizing the core, but you are softening back into yourself, into the moment,
which is how authentic healing is sustained.

What causes sciatica?

The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body. It originates in the lower back and runs all the way down the leg to the side of the foot. Sciatica is not a medical condition, but rather a term to describe various symptoms. Sciatica occurs when the nerve is compressed and causes various sensations down the leg. The nerve can be impinged for many reasons such as a slipped disc, piriformis syndrome, spinal stenosis, pelvic fractures, tumors, lack of core strength, and/or poor structural movement habits.

Proper locomotion of the body is based on the physics of body mechanics. Moving consciously means teaching yourself how to be aware of your unlearned, original movement patterns, understanding how they contribute to your pain, and learning how to move in a way that is supportive of the structure as a whole.

There are many simple and common mistakes that happen as we mindlessly move through our busy lives, but it is not our fault. We were never taught to move properly from the start. We have adopted our movement patterns from unverified sources, which are mainly hereditary in origin. Movement and yoga therapists can help treat chronic pain. Learning how to move in alignment with physics is tried and true. The more it is practiced, the easier it will be to avoid more pain in the future.

contributor: Alana Bray is a Ceritified Yoga Therapist/Holistic Health counselor. Please visit her website: for more information.

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