Sciatica occurs when there is some type of damage to a particular nerve in the back of the leg—the sciatic nerve. This nerve controls many muscles, from the sole of your foot up to the back of your thigh. Sciatica can arise from an underlying health condition such as degenerative disc disease, pelvic injury or a slipped disk, or as in case of students practicing yoga – overexertion.
Sciatica pain can feel different to different people. For some it feels like a mild tingling, for others a dull ache. Still others report it as more of a burning sensation. In the worst cases, the pain is so severe it can keep one completely stationary.
Certain poses in the Bikram series are believed to provide a direct benefit for sciatica. The Half Moon/Hands-to-Feet pose is thought to increase flexibility in your spine, the area surrounding your sciatic nerve and the tendons and ligaments in your legs. The Standing Head-to-Knee, Standing Bow Pulling, Head-to-Knee Stretching and Standing Separate Leg-to-Knee poses may help increase flexibility in your sciatic nerve, while the Standing Separate Leg Stretching pose strengthens and stretches your sciatic nerve and leg tendons.
If you are experience sciatica, the following restorative poses will help to diminish the pain (these hip openers increase the external, or outward, rotation of the femur bone in the hip socket. They also strengthen the psoas muscle, a primary hip flexor connecting the torso and legs that gets chronically shortened in our chair-bound society.
1. Reclining pigeon pose
Pigeon pose is a common yoga pose. It works to open the hips. There are multiple versions of this stretch. The first is a starting version known as the reclining pigeon pose. If you are just starting your treatment, you should try the reclining pose first. Once you can do the reclining version without pain, work with your physical therapist on the sitting and forward versions of pigeon pose.
2. Sitting pigeon pose
3. Forward pigeon pose
4. Wind Removing Pose
5. Sitting spinal stretch
6. Standing hamstring stretch