Top 10 Yoga Exercises to Relieve Sciatica
Sciatica is due to compression and inflammation of the spinal
nerves. A sharp pain radiates from the lower back to to the leg and foot
in a pattern determined by the nerve that is affected. It feels like an
electric shock, and increases with standing or walking. A list of top ten yoga exercises that may help in providing relief from sciatica are detailed below:
Place a mat against a
wall. Sit in Dandasana ( staff pose ) facing the
wall. Keep a yoga belt beside you. The soles of your feet should
touch the wall comfortably, with your toes pointing upward. Press both
your palms down on the mat.
back onto the mat, supporting your torso on your palms until your head rests on
the mat. Bend your right knee, and bring it to your chest. Keep your
left sole pressed against the wall. Loop the belt around the sole of your
right foot. Hold one end of the belt in each hand. Make sure that
you hold the yoga belt as close to your foot as possible. This opens your
chest, and keeps your breathing regular and even. Keep your extended leg
pressed down on the mat.
Inhale, and raise your right leg until it is
perpendicular to the floor. Hold both
ends of the belt with the
right hand. Place your left arm beside your left arm beside your left hip.
Press the left foot against the wall, and the left thigh on the mat.
Stretch your right leg up further, simultaneously pulling your toes toward you
with the belt. Feel the stretch in your right calf. Keep your left
leg firmly pressed to the floor. Do not bend either knee or allow the left
leg to tilt out. Initially, stay in this position for 20 -30 seconds.
With practice, increase the time to 1 minute. Repeat the pose on the other
Do not practice this
Asana if you are
recovering from cardiac condition, or if you have blocked arteries,
stress related headache, eyestrain or diarrhea.
SUPTA PADANGUSTHASANA :
Variation (foot on the block)
The block under the foot makes the pose easier for
those who are stiff in the pelvic area.
You must keep you leg straight as you lower it to
bend during this action might lead to injury.
GETTING INTO THE POSE
Place the wooden block on your right.Follow
steps 1,2, and 3 of the main
asana. After you
raise your right
leg, exhale, then lower your leg to the right, keeping itabsolutely straight.
Place your right foot on the block.Pull on the belt and stretch your leg.Hold the pose for 20 - 30 seconds.Repeat the pose on the other side.
UTTHITA PARSVAKONASANA (INTENSE SIDE STRETCH)
(mountain pose ) against a wall, with your heels and your buttocks touching it.
Place the block on the floor behind your right foot. Inhale, and spread
your feet 1 m (3.5 ft) apart. Turn your right foot out to the right, until
it is parallel to the wall.
Turn your left foot
in slightly to the right. Press the outer edge of your left foot firmly on
the floor, and bend the right knee, pushing your thigh down until your calf is
at right angles to the floor. Stretch your left arm away from your left
Bend to the right, and place your right palm
on the block. Stretch the left arm
up, with the palm facing forward. Now rotate the arm and bring it toward
your left ear. Your left thumb should touch the wall. turn your head
and look at your left arm. Maintain a continuous stretch from the left
ankle to the left wrist. Press your outer left foot into the floor.
Move your shoulder blades into your body, and extended your spine toward your
head. Hold the pose for 30 seconds. Repeat the pose on the other
ARDHA CHANDRASANA (HALF-MOON POSE)
Place a block on its short side against the wall. Inhale, spread your feet
1m (3.5ft) apart. Raise your arms to shoulder - level.
Turn your right foot out to the right, parallel to
the wall, and turn your left foot
in, slightly to the right. Bend your right knee, and place the right palm
on the block. Raise your left arm.
Straighten your right leg. Raise your left
leg, until it is parallel to the floor. eep your left arm stretched up,
in line with the right arm. The back of your left hand should touch the
Look up at your left thumb. Keep your weight
on the right foot, thigh, and hip, not on your right palm. Hold the pose
for 20 seconds. Repeat the pose on the other side.
Do not perform this asana if you have stress-related
headaches, migrane, eye strain, varicose veins, diarrhoea, insomnia, or
chronic fatigue syndrome.
BHARADVAJASANA (TORSO TWIST)
Sit sideways on the chair with the right
side of your body against the chair back.
Sit erect and exhale.Hold the outer sides of the chair back.
Widen your elbows. Push the right side of
the chair back away from your body, exerting pressure, while pulling the left
side toward you. Exhale as you rotate, but do not hold your breath.
Look over your right shoulder. Hold the pose for 20 - 30 seconds.
Repeat the pose on the other side.
Avoid this asana if you have blocked arteries, high or low
blood pressure, bronchitis, headaches, migraine, eyestrain, Diarrhoea,
insomnia, fatigue, osteoarthritis or during mensuration.
GETTING INTO THE POSE
Step your legs between
the chair back and the seat. Hold the seat with your right hand, and the
back of the chair with your left hand. Lift and rotate your torso to the
right. Hold for 20 - 30 seconds. Repeat the pose on the other side.
Avoid this pose if you have varicose veins.
SALAMBA SARVANGASANA (SHOULDER STAND)
Place a bolster parallel
to the front legs of the chair. Drape a blanket on the chair seat, so
that it overlaps its front edge. Sit sideways on the chair with your
chest facing the chair back. Hold the chair back, and place your legs on it, one by one. Slide your hands down the chair back and move your
buttocks toward the back of the seat.
Lower your back
onto the chair seat, and press your elbows down on it. Hold the chair
back, then slide your back and buttocks over the edge of the seat. Rest
your shoulders on the bolster, and your head on the floor. Pass your
hands, one by one, through the front legs of the chair and hold the back legs.
Straighten your legs and pause for 1 minute.
Rest your head comfortably on the floor, and
keep your neck and shoulders on the bolster. Hold the back edges of the
chair seat. Bend your knees and place your feet on the top edge of the
chair back. Make sure that your buttocks rest on the front edges of the
Maintain your grip
on the chair seat and straighten your legs, one by one. Your buttocks, lower back, and wait should rest on the front edge of the
chair seat. Lift your dorsal spine and shoulder blades.
Intensify your grip on the chair seat. Extend your inner legs from
the groin to the heels. Rotate your thighs inward. Keep your
neck soft. Do not hold your breath. Hold the pose for 5
Avoid this asana if you have headaches, migraine
or during menstruation.
SETUBANDHA SARVANGASANA (BRIDGE POSE)
Place a folded blanket on the end of the bench. Place a bolster on the floor in line with the bench, and touching one end
of it. Place a folded blanket on the bolster. Then sit on the
blanket on the bench, with your legs stretched out. Place a yoga belt
under your thighs and bind it round the middle of your thighs.
Exhale, and lower your back toward the bolster. Press each palm down on the floor on either side of the bolster, your fingers
pointing forward. Both arms should support your upper back. Keep
your thighs, knees, and feet close together, your heels on the bench, and your
toes pointing upward. Lower your arms to the floor.
Slide further down, until the back of your head
and your shoulders rest on the bolster. Straighten your legs, keeping your
feet together. Stretch the heels and toes away from the torso to increase
the stretch of the legs. Extend your arms to the sides on the floor, with
the palms facing the ceiling. Hold the pose for 3 minutes. Gradually
increase the time to 5 -8 minutes.
Make sure that your lower back touches the edge of the
bench in the final pose. Your buttocks should not touch the edge of the
bench, but should not be far from it, otherwise your shoulder will lift,
causing neck strain.
Spread the mat on the floor. Place a bolster on the mat, with its long
sides parallel to the long sides of the mat. Sit in Dandasana (Staff pose)
with the short end of the bolster against your buttocks, and place the folded
blanket on the far end. If you have osteoarthritis of the knees or if your
legs are feeling tired, place a bolster under your knees.
Wrap the bandage around your forehead, following the instructions for Ujjayi
Pranayama. Now place your elbows and forearms on the mat.
Lower your back, vertebra by vertebra, onto the bolster until your head rests comfortably on the folded blanket. Position your buttocks evenly on the
centre of the mat. Spread out your arms to the sides, palms facing up, and
rest them on the floor.
Straighten your legs and stretch them evenly away
from each other, without disturbing the extension of your waist. Exhale,
focusing on your breathing, then lift and stretch your diaphragm, keeping it
free of tension. Keep your arms at a comfortable distance from your body.
If they are placed too near or too far away, your shoulders will lift off the
Stretch your shoulders away from your neck.
The centre of your back should be on the centre of the bolster, keep your
abdomen soft and relaxed. Expand your chest and relax your throat.
Until you feel a soothing sensation in the neck. Ensure that your head
does not tilt back. Relax your facial muscles and your jaw. Do not
clench your teeth.
Keep your breathing smooth and free of tension,
but do not breathe deeply. Let your eyeballs relax into their sockets, and
allow external surroundings to recede. Feel the energy flow from your
brain to your body body as the physical, physiological, mental, intellectual,
and spiritual lanes come together. Stay in the pose for 5 - 10 minutes.
ADHOMUKHA SVANASANA (Downward Facing Dog Stretch)
in Tadasana facing a wall, about 1 m(3.5 ft) away from it.
Place 2 of the blocks on their broad sides, shoulder-width apart,against the
wall. Place the third block on its long side, 45 cm (18 in) away from
the wall. Separate your feet to a distance of 45cm (18 in). Kneel,
and place your palms on the two blocks against the wall.
Press your palms down on the blocks and walk your
feet back, until they are 1.2 m (4 ft) away from your hands. Make sure
that your feet are in line with your hands and the same distance apart.
Raise both the heels, stretch your legs, then lower your heels to the floor.
Stretch your arms fully.
Consciously stretch each leg from heel to buttock,
and from the front of the ankle to the top of the thigh. Raise your
buttocks, stretch your chest, and push your sternum toward your hands.
Exhale, then rest your head on the third block. Press your hands down on
the blocks, extending your arms fully. Stretch your spine and expand your
chest. Keep your throat soft and elongated. Relax your eyes and keep
your brain passive.
Do not practice this asana if you have diarrhoea or
varicose veins. If you have a stiff spine, or
high blood pressure or are
prone to recurring headaches, always practice all these variations with head
supported by a block. Do not hold the pose for more than 30 sec to 1 min.
These sciatica exercises are recommended for specific conditions. They must
be done regularly (typically two times daily) and correctly to be effective.
Close attention to posture and body mechanics is key to getting maximum benefit
from the exercises.
Adapted from Yoga: The path to
holistic health by B.K.S. Iyengar.
Dated 14 August 2012