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Say Goodbye to Sciatic Nerve Pain With These Yoga Poses

Burning, tingling, searing pain traveling from the buttocks down the back of your leg. I hope this doesn’t sound familiar, but if it does, you’re probably dealing with sciatic nerve pain.

The bad news is, it hurts. The good news is, you can practice yoga to relieve the pain.

There are two nerves that run from the lower spine, through the buttocks and back of the legs, all the way down to the feet. However, the sciatic nerve is the longest single nerve in the body.  

There are two main reasons you may be feeling sciatic nerve pain. The first reason being bone related, or the second reason being muscle related.

If it is bone related it is most likely a disc issue such as a disc herniation. If it is muscle related, it could be a tight piriformis muscle putting pressure on the sciatic nerve. You’ll know if it’s caused by the piriformis because you will feel instant relief in Thread the Needle pose.

To test it out, cross the ankle of the leg with pain over the opposite knee and hug the knee into your chest. If it instantly feels better, then the pain is being caused by the piriformis muscle. With either type of sciatica pain, it’s important to strengthen the abdominal muscles as well to help support the back body.

Muscle Related Injury

With this type of sciatic nerve pain, it’s important to strengthen and gently stretch the leg muscles, glutes, and the abdominals.


One-Legged King Pigeon pose 

(Variation)


One-Legged King Pigeon pose can be helpful or harmful for those with sciatica. When performed the typical way with the back leg straight, it can contradict relief for sciatica pain. Instead, try performing the pose with the back leg bent—this variation is sometimes called Star Shape.

Sanskrit: Eka Pada Rajakapotasana

Step-by-step:

1. Begin in on all fours.

2. Draw the right knee forward behind the right wrist, and move it slightly out to the right.

3. Place the right foot behind the left wrist so that the shin is at an angle behind the wrists.

4. Tuck the back toes under and scoot the left knee back slightly.

5. Then, sit back on the right sit bone. Keep the left knee bent.

6. Square your chest to the right shin and fold over it.

7. Stay in the pose for 10-20 breaths, or for as long as it feels good.

8. Repeat on the other side.


Bridge Over Block: Figure 4 Variation


Step-by-step:

1. Lie down on your back with your knees bent and heels near your sit bones.

2. Lift your hips up into Bridge pose, and place the block beneath your sacrum at medium level, or the level that feels most appropriate in your body.

3. Lift your right leg straight up toward the sky and cross the right ankle on top of the left knee—finding a figure four shape.

4. As you inhale, feel for squeezing of the sit bones in toward the tailbone, and driving the hips up towards the sky. As you exhale, actively guide the right knee forward to release compression in the hip socket.

5. Stay for at least 5-10 breaths, and then repeat on the other side.


Firelog pose


Sanskrit: Agnistambhasana

Step-by-step:

1. Start out seated at the top of your mat.

2. Frame your right leg along the top right corner of the mat with your right shin across the top of the mat, and your right thigh along the right edge of the mat—it’s here that you are creating a 90-degree angle. Flex or demi-pointe your right foot.

3. Stack your left leg on top of the right, keeping the leg at a 90-degree angle. Use blocks, rolled up towels, or rolled up blankets to support the knees if needed. Depending on how your body is feeling, you may be able to forward fold gently keeping the spine straight.

4. Stay for 5-10 breaths. With each exhale allow the body to gently release a little deeper into the pose.

5. Repeat on the other side.


Fire Hydrant


Technically this is pilates, but it’s important to strengthen as well as stretch with this type of sciatica.

Step-by-step:

1. Begin in a tabletop position.

2. Draw the navel in strong and reach your tailbone down toward your heels.

3. Lift your right knee. Keep the knee bent and open the leg out to the side, lifting the leg up to the height of your hip.

4. Bring the knee back in toward the left knee, and then return it back out to the height of your hip. Repeat 8-10 times.

5. Take a short rest and then repeat another 8-10 times.

6. Repeat on the left leg.

Bone Related Injury

A bone related sciatica injury means that there is an intervertebral disc that is compressing the sciatic nerve. This could be due to a bulging or herniated disc.

In this case it’s best to work toward decompressing the lumbar, or lower spine. In all of the below poses, remember to work a strong tuck of the tailbone and feel for lifting the ribs—lengthening the spine.


 Baby Cobra pose


Sanskrit: Ardha Bhujangasana

Step by step:

1. Start by lying down in prone position on your belly.

2. Take a moment to reset your legs by lifting one leg at a time and internally rotating them (toes in heels out). This is to create space in the sacrum so there is no “crunching” in the lower spine.

3. Bring your hands forward of the shoulders, about 6-12 inches. This is further forward than a typical Cobra pose.

4. Feel for rooting the tailbone down toward the ground and reach your heart forward as you lift your chest. Use your fingers to traction the heart forward, lengthening the spine.

5. Draw the shoulder blades down the back as you lift, avoid bringing the shoulders up to the ears. Hold for 3-5 breaths.

6. Repeat three times.


Bridge Over Block


Sanskrit: Setu Bandhasana

Step-by-step:

1. Lie down on your back with your knees bent and heels near your sit bones.

2. Reach down toward your heels and make sure that you can touch, or almost touch the heels. Press down through the feet to lift your hips.

3. Place a block under your sacrum at medium setting, or use the setting that feels most appropriate for your body.

4. Feel for scooping the tailbone under and curling the pubic bone in toward the belly button. This action will help to decompress the lower spine.

5. Lift your toes and root down through the heels and the balls of the feet. Activate inner thighs by energetically squeezing in toward the midline without actually moving your thighs anywhere.

6. Stay here working a strong tuck of the tailbone for up to 10 breaths.


Standing Backbend 

(With a Block Between Thighs)


Step-by-step:

1. Begin standing with a block between your thighs. Adjust the block to a width that allows your feet to be hip-width apart.

2. Bring your hands to your “back pockets” with fingers pointing down.

3. Draw your sit bones in toward the tailbone and press the thighs in against the block.

4. Feel for scooping of the pubic bone in toward the navel.

5. Use the hands to help guide the hips forward as you lift the ribcage and sternum, finding a gentle backbend.

6. Continue to telescope the ribs while keeping the tailbone tucked under, lengthening and creating space in the spine.

7. Move in and out of the pose a few times, holding the pose for about five deep breaths each time.


Locust pose


Sanskrit: Shalabhasana

Step-by-step:

1. Start lying down in prone position on your belly. Just like in Baby Cobra, take a moment to reset your legs by lifting one leg at a time and internally rotating them. This is to create space in the sacrum so there is no crunching in the lower spine.

2. Reach your arms down by your sides with the palms facing up.

3. Tuck the tailbone and draw your pubic bone in toward the navel. The navel may even lift slightly away from the ground. Feel for drawing the sit bones in toward the tailbone. To find your sit bones, place your hands where the back of the thighs meet your glutes. You will find two bony protrusions called the ischial tuberosity.

3. Keep this engagement. As you inhale, lift the chest. As you exhale lift the legs.

Download Your Free yoga playlist


This playlist for your full vinyasa flow is packed with songs to bring you back to the days of lava lamps and teen spirit.

Adriana Lee
Adriana Lee

Adriana’s yoga journey began at a young age and continues to inspire her every day by healing mind, body and spirit through the breath. She received her 200 Hour RYT through Frog Lotus Yoga’s center, Suryalila, in Adalusia, Spain. She also trained an additional 50 hours with Heba Saab at Body Heat Hot Yoga in Las Vegas, NV. She continued training with Heba by assisting and acting as a mentor to her 200 Hour trainees. She trained with Cameron Shayne in Miami and received a 50 Hour certification in the Budokon Yoga system. She is also a certified Pilates instructor and a Reiki Level 2 practitioner. Her yoga practice has brought sweetness and authenticity into her life and her intention is to share that sweetness and help her students strive to be their own authentic selves.

4 Comments

  1. gail says:

    Love some little pics to go along with the descriptions. Great set of poses!

  2. Gina says:

    Pics would be super helpful!

  3. Donna says:

    Pictures would be more helpful.

  4. Corrin says:

    Adriana,

    I have been having aches in the upper buttocks area due to an increase in practice. I did not realize it was my sciatica until I read your article!! After looking into it I have realized that many issues within the lower back, hamstrings, and sciatica are directly associated with the hips. Below is a 45-minute powerful vinyasa hip opening sequence that I found was particularly helpful and included many of the poses you have listed. Namaste ☺

    http://doronyoga.com/2017/01/14/vinyasa-flow-hip-opening-class/

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