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Yoga for Sciatica

Is low back pain giving you sleepless nights? Is changing positions from sitting to standing more challenging than it used to be? Is your leg feeling some nagging discomfort too? Did I hit a nerve? If I did, it was probably the sciatic one, and you may be experiencing sciatica.

Sciatica is not a word you would just stumble upon. In fact, you might have encountered the pain before—a lower back pain that extends to your legs—without knowing the condition. Understanding that not all back pain is due to sciatica is important. Only if your pain arises because sciatic nerves are affected is it called sciatica.

What are Sciatic Nerves & Where are They

The sciatic nerves are the longest in the body and are about as thick as your little finger. They extend from the lower lumbar spine, past your buttocks, down the back of your legs, and to the soles of your feet. Therefore, pain may originate in any of these parts—lower back, buttocks, calves, legs, or feet.

Sciatica Pain

This degree of pain felt from sciatica varies from person to person and even from episode to episode. It could be a mild, nagging pain that you can “work around” or an unbearable shooting pain that makes standing and walking difficult. So expect throbbing pain, heat, soreness, tingling, and even electric shocks! Also, it usually affects only one part of the body.

The good news? A Harvard Medical School report states that while medication may or may not help with this condition, practicing yoga for sciatica pain as a preventive measure is a good idea. So, you can help yourself with a non-invasive, personalized yoga regimen.

are you at risk for sciatica?

Why Yoga for Sciatica Pain Relief

  • Yoga poses can help align, straighten, and strengthen the lower back, the source of the sciatic nerve.
  • Some spinal twists can also help relieve pain caused due to compression of the sciatic nerve.
  • Yoga asanas help lengthen the spine; this will relieve pain caused due to the pressing of the spinal cord on the sciatic nerve.
  • Time and activity could have tightened the hip muscles, applying pressure on the sciatic nerve. Yoga asanas help lengthen and loosen these muscles.
    Simple stretches also greatly ease the pain along the entire sciatic nerve.

Yoga Poses for Preventing Sciatica



  • Opens and stretches the hip flexors
  • Strengthens the core and back muscles
  • Relieves lower back pain
  • Aim: Align your back, root, and thighs in a straight line and maintain it for about 10 seconds, gradually increasing the length of the pose.

Tip: You may support your lower back with your hands if that is more comfortable.



  • Relieves tired legs and feet
  • Relaxes the hips and back
  • Reduces knee and ankle pain as you take your body weight off your knee
  • Aim: As your body gets a deep rest, try to relax your mind likewise.

Tip: To add to your comfort, place a hip bolster under your hips to support it.



  • Stretches the lower part of your body well, relieving aching muscles
  • Makes the hip region more flexible
  • Promotes good posture
  • Aim: Focus on balancing your body and, once that is achieved, feeling calm.

Tip: Focus on both hips even if there is pain only in one.



  • Helps stretch and tone the back muscles
  • Strengthens the legs and feet
  • Lengthens the spine
  • Aim: Move the heels towards the floor, touching it if possible. The idea is to shift the weight off the back on to the heels.

Tip: Do some warm-up exercises for the ankles and arms before you get into this pose, as they manage the weight of your body in this pose.



  • Helps flex your back and hip muscles
  • Loosens the tightness in the lower back
  • Relieves knee pain
  • Aim: Maintain the pose for as long as you are comfortable; the bend will relieve weariness.

Apart from yoga, you can try some of these other exercises for relief from sciatica:

Leg over knee exercise. Lie on your back, with your knees bent and your feet placed flat on the yoga mat. Lift your right foot and place your right ankle over your left thigh. Push your knee slightly downwards for 5 seconds at a time. Do this 3–4 times as per your comfort. Repeat with the other leg as well.

Full body stretch. Lie down on your back with your hands stretched straight above your head and legs stretched straight with toes pointing forward. Stretch your hands and legs in opposite directions. Relax. Repeat 4–5 times.

Lying-down Body Twist. Lie on your back, with your knees bent and arms stretched straight to the sides. Move both knees together towards the right while moving your torso and face towards the left. Allow the top and bottom parts of your body to stretch in opposite directions. Maintain for about 15 seconds and regain your original position. Repeat with the other side.

Yoga always works best when you follow it up with pranayama and meditation.

Yoga Poses to Avoid When You Have Sciatica

In general, practicing yoga while experiencing sciatica is not advisable. At such times, hot and cold packs are the best solution. Avoid most seated and standing forward-bending asanas like Standing Forward Bend and any asana that puts pressure on the lower back, such as Shoulder Stand. These can cause further strain on the pelvis and lower back. Listen to and honor your body. Avoid any posture that causes discomfort and pain.

Yoga isn’t a one-stop solution. Combine it with a healthy diet, good posture, and regular switching of positions, so you don’t get stuck in one aspect or pose. There is no one-size-fits-all approach. So, slowly ease your way into the poses and do only as much as you feel comfortable with.

Most importantly, do yoga asanas under the guidance of a trained yoga teacher to customize your yoga sessions according to your needs and abilities.

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