Following a few recent enquiries from some of my students after class I have posted this blog which I hope will be of some help to anyone who is suffering from sciatica.
Yoga poses that will help with sciatica include poses that stretch the periformis muscle, which attaches the sacrum and hip. For many of us this muscle can get really tight which can mean that it compresses the sciatic nerve.
To stretch this muscle do seated twists. Bend the left knee and placing in front of the groin and then placing the right foot to the right of the left thigh, place the right hand behind your back and the left elbow on the right of your right thigh or knee. Make sure both of your sit bones are grounded. Spend some time breathing deeply into the pose creating length through the spine as you inhale and moving into the spinal twist as you exhale. Visualise yourself working your way up the spine breath by breath.
Then take hold of your right ankle and pull the foot closer to your left hip to come into cow faced pose sit in this pose breathing into your hips and then without collapsing the spine hinge from the hips forwards over the top thigh taking your forehead as far as you can over the top knee. Keep your core engaged and your back flat. (Do these two poses on both sides.)
Follow your seated twists and cow faced forward bends with a classic seated forward bend with legs outstretched and hinging once again from your hips to ensure that you keep your back from rounding. Take long deep diaphragmatic breaths in this pose and focus your breath into the back body
Then lie on your back and with a strap hooked around you right foot stretch your right foot up on to the ceiling above your hip. Hold the strap in both hands and gently move foot to the floor beyond your head. Then take strap into right hand and guide leg out to the right without allowing your left buttock to lift from the floor. Change the strap into the left hand and take foot towards you left shoulder meanwhile place the webbing of your thumb joint against the top of your right thigh where it meets the hip and press the thigh bone forwards. Change the strap to other leg and do same stretches on the other side.
Downward facing dog can also be good to help alleviate sciatica – although not if bulging discs in the spine causes your symptoms. If bulging discs are the cause then you could try lying on your belly for some gentle back bends like cobra and sphinx holding the poses for up to a minute providing that you can do so without discomfort. You could also try a supported shoulder stand with your legs up the wall.
Also try a standing side stretch (see right). Bend your right knee above the heel but don’t sink too low into the joints to ensure the pose remains muscular and core remains engaged. Stretch out the left leg and firmly ground the back foot at an angle of approximately 30 degrees. Lightly place your right elbow on to right thigh and stretch left arm forwards palm facing down beyond the right foot. Look up under the left armpit and try spiralling the navel and heart to look up to the sky as well. Keep the weight in your back leg and keep the core engaged and the breath steady. Do this side stretch on both sides.