Contributed by SYU L1 Student Corrinne Horton
The sciatic nerve is made up of multiple nerves branching off from the discs in the lumbar spine. They join together, becoming the largest nerve in the body, and run behind the pelvis and down each leg. The nerves branching from the lowest discs are most common causes of sciatica issues. Pain results when these nerves become irritated or compressed. This pain can be felt in the buttocks area, usually on one side, where the nerves originate from the spine, or they can extend all the way down the leg. Other common symptoms are pain that intensifies when sitting, numbness in the leg, difficulty moving the affected leg, dull constant aching in the legs and sharp shooting pains that intensify with certain movements.
To help alleviate the pain related to sciatica, yoga and stretching can be done to release compression in the spine. The spine is the major focus because, when a nerve is pinched at the top, it creates an abnormal pressure at the bottom. There are many yoga postures that can reduce spinal compression.
Below are some beginning level postures that can be done at home or at work to help address sciatica issues. Of course, it is always best to check with a doctor to determine what is going to be most helpful for you. In addition to at-home practice like the below, every Scholé Yoga class features yin yoga postures that often target these areas. RESTORE classes hold many postures for longer, helping the body to slowly let go and heal itself over time.
As you explore these postures, listen to your body. Add other movements that feel natural, and observe how holding longer makes your body feel. Try doing the postures in a different order to work out what is best for you. As best you can, bring your awareness to your breath to help you focus throughout your practice.