The sciatic nerve is the longest in the human body, and spans from the spine all the way to the back side of the leg. Sciatica pain makes it uncomfortable to both sit and stand. Sciatic pain is typically felt in the lower back, hips, and sometimes all along the leg. As I said before, it can be quite unbearable. Often times the pain begins slowly and starts to worsen with time.
If you have sciatica pain, do not ignore it. This isn’t something that you can wish away. Some doctors prescribe medication for this sort of pain, but all will recommend regular exercise and stretching.
A yoga practice focused on soothing sciatic nerve pain would be a great start. And today I will share with you four yoga poses that can really help ease some of your discomfort.
Tight hips from sitting long hours can make sciatic pain much worse. The pigeon pose will help open up your hips and release tension. You can either do this pose traditionally sitting on your hip or modified lying on your back. If you are doing a traditional pigeon you will step your right foot forward and let it rest in front of your left wrist as your right knee settles in front of your right wrist. Your left leg stretches out straight behind you. This puts a lot of pressure on your hips and knees, so if this feels too intense, take a figure four stretch on your back (shown on the right)
This pose helps strengthen the lower back as well as bring the circulation of the blood to the lower hips. Strengthening and stretching this area is exactly what you need to start mending that sciatic nerve. Some of you may know this exercise as a “superman.” You start by lying on your stomach, forehead on the ground and arms resting by your sides. On your inhale you will lift your chest, arms and legs off the ground. Hold for 5-10 seconds and release. This should be repeated up to 10 times.
Reclining Big Toe Pose
This pose will help stretch out the back of your leg all the way up to your hips. Start by lying on your back and lift one leg straight up in the air. Grab the big toe using the opposite hand. If that is not in your flexibility range, wrap a towel around your foot and hold it in place that way. As you are in this stretch, it is very important that you keep the lifted leg straight and the foot flexed. That will create a deeper stretch along your hamstring.
This pose will help improve circulation and reduce tension in the back and hips. Pull your right knee towards you chest and use your left had to pull the knee across your chest. As you take the twist, make sure you right shoulder stays on the ground. You should constantly be pulling your right shoulder and right knee apart to feel the full stretch along that sciatic nerve. With each exhale try to stretch deeper. Make sure you do both sides.