The Sciatic Nerve is the longest and widest nerve in the body. It runs all the way from the lower back, through the hips, and down the back of the legs to the feet. Sciatic pain can sometimes be caused by over stretching the hamstrings. But any pressure on it, along its length, can cause pain. It can be a constant pain in a certain area, or radiating pain, with electric shock like waves of pain, and can restrict mobility.
Here are some yoga exercises and postures to help you relieve sciatic pain. Sitting usually aggravates it, so standing postures and generally walking tall is good.
All Fours Leg Release
On all fours, lower your leg on the tender side and let it trail limply on the floor behind you. Feel the hip drop from the waist and gently shake your leg until it feels floppy and relaxed. This can relieve pressure on the sciatic nerve. You can repeat on the other side to balance the body.
Tadasana Urdhva Baddangulasana
Tadasana with arms raised, hands interlinked and palms facing the sky. Tadasana Urdhva Baddangulasana. This posture is known to release sciatic pain and relieves arthritis. Try doing this against a wall. Extend your arms fully and lock your elbows. Hold for 30-60 seconds. Try breathing deeply in and out through the nose.
Paschima Baddha Hasttastana
Paschima Baddha Hasttastana means hands folded at the back. This helps to create flexibility and extension at the back of the arms and reduces sciatic pain. Ultimately you are aiming to hold your right arm right above the elbow with your left hand, and your left arm with your right hand above the elbow. Hold for 20-30 seconds and work up to 1 minute, as you breathe evenly and deeply.
Tadasana Paschima Namaskarasana
Tadasana with Hands in Reverse Prayer. Tadasana Paschima Namaskarasana. Press your palms together and move them up your back until they are between your shoulder blades. Push our elbows down and open your chest. Soften the neck and shoulders and hold for 30-60 seconds, as you breathe freely and easily.
Tadasana Gomukhasana, cow face pose arms, activates the muscles of the arms, shoulders and back and relieves sciatic pain as well as arthritis in the shoulders, elbows, wrists and fingers. Take your left arm behind you and turn the back of your hand to the middle of your back. Raise your right arm, bend it at the elbow and move your hand down with the palm facing your body; try and catch hold of the hands behind you. Hold for 20-30 seconds. then repeat on the other side.
Hatha Yoga Triangle pose, Utthita Trikonasana. This pose activates the muscles of the spine; alleviates sciatica and backache and ensures the spine is well aligned. Perform this against a wall. Start in Tadasana. Then spread your feet about 1 metre apart. Your heels and buttocks should touch the wall. Raise your arms out to your sides until they are in line with your shoulders. Turn your right foot out. Then bend your right knee to check that the toes and knees are inline. Then straighten the front leg. Move your left hip to the left as your reach and lean right. Feel the body lengthening and extending. As you bend to the right, extend your right arm down towards the floor. Draw the tailbone into your body and keep your left buttock and shoulders firmly pressed to the wall. Raise the left arm towards the ceiling. Turn your head and look at your left thumb. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
Utthita Parsvakonasana Variation, side angle pose.
Standing in Tadasana , against a wall, with your heels and your buttocks touching it, move your feet about 1 metre apart. Turn your right foot out to the right, as in triangle pose. Start to lean to the right, bend your right leg, ensuring that the knee does not go beyond your toes. and as you do so rest your right elbow/ right forearm on your right lower thigh. Extend your left arm till the arm kisses your ear. Reach and hold for 30 seconds ensuring that you are lengthening the side body and holding in your core. Repeat on the other side.
Half Moon Pose, Ardha Chandrasana. Half moon pose, not only improves your concentration but gives a lovely intense stretch to the spine. It helps to relieve sciatica. Again you can use a wall for support and a block if you cannot reach the floor. The chest and hips remain open. Bring your balance to your right foot and place your right hand to the block. When you feel steady start to lift and extend your left leg flexing the foot, whilst maintaining the openness in the hips and chest. The left arm reaches up. Turn your gaze to the left thumb. Keep lengthening and extending the spine and neck. Hold the pose for 20 seconds. Then repeat on the other side.
And thanks to Asquith for their beautiful and comfortable yoga clothing.