Thursday, November 6, 2014
Yoga to Relieve Sciatica
After teaching my yoga class the other day, one of my students came up to me and said that she has been having really bad sciatica pain. She asked me what yoga poses would be good to help relieve some of the pain. I knew a few right off the top of my head but I came home and did a little more research.
So what is sciatica? You have a sciatic nerve that runs from the lower back down each leg, so sciatica is pain affecting that nerve. Some common symptoms of sciatica is pain or tingling down the leg, a constant pain on one side of your bum, sometimes a shooting pain down the back of your leg.
As with any pain, make sure you talk to your doctor first.
One of the worst things you can do is overstretch the area that is irritated. It can inflame the area even more, and make your symptoms worse. So make sure you keep your practice gentle and make sure to BREATHE. Let the breath fill your organs.
1. Start lying on your back and bring your knees to your chest. Try to reach around and grab the opposite elbow if you can, if not, grab the opposite wrist. Stay here for about 5 deep breaths.
2. From here, place your hands on your knees. As you inhale push your knees away from your body, exhale, bring your knees back to the starting position. Repeat for 5 breaths.
3. Slowly lower down to your back placing your feet flat on the floor with your knees pointing up toward the ceiling. Slowly bring the right leg back in toward the chest giving a nice gentle hug. Begin to float the leg up toward the ceiling. Using a strap, or your hands depending on your hamstring flexibility, slowing begin to pull your toes toward you. Making sure your bottom foot stays firmly pressed into the ground. Try not to allow the leg to sway to the side as you hold the position for 5 breaths. Repeat other side.
4. Childs pose. Slowly begin to make your way on to all 4s. Begin to bring your hips back until you are sitting on your heels. Reach the arms out long in front of you and release the forehead to the mat. allow the belly to rest on the thighs and notice your breath. Allow the breath to be the boss. Stay for 5 breaths.
5. Roll your toes underneath you as you slowly press into downward facing dog. Sliding your shoulder blades down the spine, making lots of room between the shoulders and the ears. Peddle the feet out until it feels good to release the heels down toward the floor. This pose helps to relieve tension in the back and hamstrings, which contribute to tension in the sacrum. Hold for 5 breaths.
6. Walk your feet towards your hands for forward fold. Feel the back of your legs pressing into the ground as you lift the front of your legs up towards your hips. Relax the head and let it become a weight pulling you closer to the ground. Shake your head yes and no to make sure your not holding any tension in the neck. Hold forward fold for 5 breaths.
7. Triangle pose. From a standing position, step your right leg back, reaching your arms out to the side. Slowly begin to bring your left arm to the ground, or your shin as the right arm reaches up toward the ceiling. Make sure to press your left hip forward and your right hip back to the hips even. Stay here for 5 breaths and repeat other side.
8. Slowly come into Warrior 2. From here, reach your front arm forward and begin to bring it toward the ground while your back arm floats up toward the ceiling. Keeping the integrity of the lung, slowly begin to bring your gaze up toward the sky. Stay in side angle for 5 nice deep breaths.
9. When you are ready, begin to make your way onto all 4s. From here, slide your right knee up by your right hand and begin to slide your left leg back as far as you can. You can either stay here, or begin to slowly bring your elbows to the ground. You can take this a step farther by straightening your arms and placing your forehead on the ground. Stay for 5 breaths, repeat other side.
10. Slowly begin to make your way into a seated pose. Bring the bottoms of your feet together as you let the knees fall towards the ground. Begin to open your feet like your opening a book. Grabbing your big toes, or ankles, allow your chest to come forward as you come into cobblers pose. I also like to use my elbows to press my legs out a little bit farther if I'm warm and want to challenge my flexibility more.