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Best Yoga Poses for Sciatica Pain

by Patty Weasler, RN April 09, 2020 0 Comments

Practicing yoga for sciatica pain is an effective treatment option that uses your own body to stretch and strengthen your legs, back, core, and arms. Sciatic nerve pain can stem from multiple conditions like a herniated disc, spinal compression, tight muscles, or injury. Grab a yoga mat and read more to find pain relief through controlled yoga poses for sciatica irritation.  

Is Yoga Good for Sciatica?

Regular yoga practice can improve your body and mind in so many ways. And one way is to help you reduce lower back pain caused by the sciatic nerve. Yoga uses slow, methodical movements to strengthen and stretch your body. The poses focus on correct body posture and strengthens core muscles. This all will help improve your sciatica pain and create overall body awareness.

Yoga offers many of the same benefits as traditional stretching exercises for sciatica.

Best Yoga Poses

Here we will cover the best yoga poses for sciatica. Many of these poses are intended for beginners, however, if you have never practiced yoga you might want to talk to a certified yoga teacher or try a few yoga classes to gain familiarity with the movements.

Child’s Pose

Child’s pose is a great, relaxing pose that lengthens the spine and opens the hips.

  1. Begin by placing your knees and hands on the ground.
  2. With your knees apart or together, drop your bottom down onto your feet.
  3. Bring your arms straight out in front and keep your forehead and palms on the ground.
  4. Breathe deeply and slowly. Relaxing your whole body.

Downward-Facing Dog

In this pose, you’ll stretch your hamstrings and calves while strengthening your shoulders and arms.

  1. Start with both your hands on the ground directly under your shoulders and knees on the ground right under your hips.
  2. Pushing off of your hands while lifting your knees off of the ground and hips into the air.
  3. Your head should be between your arms and keep your gaze towards your feet.
  4. You don’t need to keep your heels on the ground, raise them off of the ground to whatever is comfortable.

Bird Dog Pose

This pose works your core muscles - lower back, sides, and abdomen.

  1. Start with your hands and feet on the ground. Keep your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.
  2. Straighten your left arm out in front of you and straighten your right leg behind you at the same time.
  3. After keeping your left hand and right foot level with your body for a moment bring them back down to the ground.
  4. Repeat the same movement with your right arm and left leg.   

Pigeon Pose

In this version of pigeon pose, you’ll lay on the ground to support your back. You’ll feel a stretch in your piriformis, low back, and glutes.

  1. Lie down on your back with your knees up and feet flat on the ground.
  2. Bring your right foot up onto your left knee. You may already feel a good stretch at this point.
  3. For more of a stretch lift your left thigh up and put your hands behind your leg. Gently pull your knee into your chest to deepen the stretch.   
  4. Repeat the same movement with the other leg.

Cobra Pose

The cobra pose will work your lumbar spine and shoulders. Take it easy at first and let your body adjust to the movement.

  1. Lie face down on the ground.
  2. Bring your hands under your shoulders and push up off of them.
  3. Your chest should lift off of the ground while your legs stay down.
  4. Hold this pose for approximately 30 seconds and then release yourself to the ground.

Staff Pose (Dandasana)

This pose aligns your back and stretches your hamstrings and calves. You’ll become more aware of your posture during this pose which can help you during your everyday activities.

  1. Sit down on the ground.
  2. Place your feet straight out in front of you.
  3. Tighten both thighs and flex your feet up.
  4. Drop your hands at your sides and take slow, deep breaths.

Chest to Knee Pose

Chest to knee pose stretches the piriformis muscle and hamstrings.

  1. Lie down on the ground with your feet stretched out.
  2. During exhale, bring your knees up to your chest and grab them with your hands. 
  3. Hold onto your knees while they are as close to your chest as possible while remaining on your back.
  4. Stay in this pose for a couple of minutes and then release your legs down.

Yoga Poses to Avoid With Sciatica

Not every yoga pose is safe to do when you have sciatica. Some poses can cause pain and make other symptoms worse. Generally speaking, poses that involved a forward bend should be avoided. If any pose causes pain, numbness, or tingling stop immediately. Here are a few poses that you should avoid if you have sciatic pain:

  • Standing forward bend
  • Wide-angle forward bend
  • Big toe pose

If you are unsure if certain poses are safe for you to perform based on your medical condition talk to your doctor or a physical therapist.

Tips for Safe Yoga

Yoga is a mind-body movement that is ever-evolving. The movements are intended to stretch your body from its current state, perhaps beyond what you thought possible. During these stretches, you need to stay safe and protect your body from further injury. Listen to your body, if it is telling you to stop, then stop. Here are a few other tips to keep you safe during your yoga practice.

  • Don’t compete against anyone but yourself
  • Use assistive props like blocks and towels when necessary
  • Avoid these exercises with low back pain
  • Pain is not normal, a comfortable stretch is
  • If you have questions, don’t be afraid to ask your yoga teacher

Yoga is a great way to warm-up for other sciatica exercises, for a comprehensive workout.

Safe and Effective Yoga for Sciatica

Yoga is a safe and effective treatment for sciatica pain when done right. If you’ve never practiced yoga take a class or personal lesson with a certified teacher. As you move into each yoga pose, take a moment to feel the stretch and breathe deeply and slowly. Soon enough you’ll feel your body strengthen and the symptoms of sciatica pain will lessen.

Find more ways to relieve sciatica pain.


Patty Weasler, RN
Patty Weasler, RN

Patty Weasler is a freelance health writer and nurse. She is certified in critical care nursing and has been practicing for over 10 years. Patty lives in Milwaukee, WI with her husband and three children. She enjoys spending her time with family and educating people about their health.

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