Yoga can stretch and strengthen your core, lower back, and hamstring muscles, helping with sciatica recovery and prevention.

Yoga uses a variety of poses to provide the practitioner with physical and mental benefits.
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How Yoga Helps the Back

Here are 4 yoga poses for sciatica relief. Remember to start slow and use a yoga mat or thick towel beneath you for comfort.

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Knees-to-chest pose

The knees-to-chest pose helps stretch out your lower back and piriformis muscle, which is located deep in the buttock.

  1. To get started, lie flat on your back with your legs straight, the back of your knees touching the ground, and your feet flexed.
  2. While exhaling, bend your knees and gently bring your thighs to your chest.
  3. Hug your arms around your knees. Your back should still be flat against the ground.
  4. Hold this pose for 1 to 2 minutes.
  5. While exhaling, gently release your legs back to their original position on the ground.

Repeat this process as you are comfortable. Hopefully, this pose relieves some of the pressure you feel on your sciatic nerve.

See Sciatic Nerve and Sciatica

Bird-dog pose

This pose will stretch and strengthen your core muscles and lumbar spine.

  1. Begin on your hands and knees—with your palms flat on the ground directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips. Your back should be straight and not arched up or down.
  2. Extend your right arm straight out in front of you and extend your left leg straight out behind you at the same time. Keep your arm and leg straight and level.
  3. Hold this pose for a few deep breaths and then gently return to the original position.
  4. Repeat this process for your left arm and right leg.

By targeting the muscles in your core and lower back, the bird-dog pose may ease your sciatica pain.

See Core Body Strength Exercises

Cobra pose

Similar to the bird dog pose, the cobra pose will work out your core and stretch your lower back.

  1. Lie flat on your stomach with your legs straight.
  2. Place your palms on the ground next to you, about level with the bottom of your ribcage. Tuck your elbows in close to your sides.
  3. While inhaling, push through your arms, lifting your chest off the ground.
  4. Your back should be arched, but your hips and lower body should be pressed against the ground.
  5. Hold this pose for 10 to 20 seconds, then gently lower your torso back to the ground.
  6. Repeat this process as you are comfortable.

If this pose is too challenging, place your forearms on the ground instead of your palms while you push your chest off the ground. Keep your elbows directly under your shoulders.

Reclining hand-to-big-toe pose

This yoga pose stretches out your hamstring muscles, located in the back of the thigh. Tight hamstrings can increase the stress in the lower back and aggravate sciatica symptoms.

See Hamstring Stretching Exercises for Sciatica Pain Relief

You will need a yoga strap for this pose, which you can find online for around 10 dollars. If you can’t get a yoga strap, a rolled towel may be good enough to use instead.

  1. Lie flat on your back with your legs straight, the back of your knees touching the ground and your feet flexed.
  2. While exhaling, bend your right knee and gently bring your right thigh to your chest. Your left leg should still be flat against the ground.
  3. Wrap the yoga strap around the ball of your right foot. Hold the two ends of the strap with each hand.
  4. While inhaling, gently push your right heel straight toward the ceiling. Keep your left leg, buttocks, and shoulders pressed against the ground.
  5. Stay in this pose for 5 to 10 deep breaths.
  6. While exhaling, gently bend your right knee and allow your right thigh to sink back down toward your chest. Release your right leg back to its original position on the ground.
  7. Repeat this process for the left leg.

When it comes to using yoga for sciatica relief, a particular pose may help one person, but it may not work for everyone. Check with your doctor about which poses to try or avoid.

By following these tips, yoga can be an effective, low-impact way to find sciatica relief.

Learn more:

Stretching for Back Pain Relief

Yoga for Back Problems