Sciatica Soothers for Non-Yogis, Part 1

Many of us suffer from the literal “pain in the butt” that is known as sciatica and we want to find relief that’s easy enough to do it at home. Thankfully there are a number of yogic postures that offer relief, especially when sciatica results from a tight piriformis. (Sciatica can be caused by a herniated disc or other spine issues, so if releasing your piriformis does not help then I recommend that you see your care provider for a diagnosis.)

The following postures are gentle and designed with non-yogi in mind. Done mindfully they should not stress your spine if you have an undiagnosed herniated disc and they should help open your piriformis. Some gentle reminders: If you feel sharp, stabbing, pulling, or tingling sensations, please back off from what you are doing. If these openers exacerbate anything, please see your care provider. And, finally, only do what you can. Ask questions if you’ve any.

 

YOU AND THE GROUND

The wildflowers were blooming near the creek behind my  house this past spring. I couldn’t resist snapping a few shots that incorporated the wildness and the sky (so please forgive the errant branch or blades of grass that infiltrate the scene).

Thread the Needle, Prep

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Depending upon your hips, this “preparatory” variation might be your fullest version.

  1. Lie down on your back with your knees bent, feet about hip-width apart.
  2. Find a neutral pelvis by imagining that you have the face of a clock resting on top of your pelvis – 6 o’clock down towards your feet and 12 o’clock up towards your navel. Inhale and tilt your pelvis towards 6 o’clock: you’ll feel your tailbone drop down to the ground and your lower back arch. Exhale and rock your pelvis towards 12 o’clock: now your sacrum will move down and your lower back will flatten. Move your pelvis back and forth as you work with your breath. Finally position your pelvis so that it rests between the two positions of your “clock” – were you to rest a ping pong ball on the center of your pelvis, it would be level. Without shifting your pelvis feel it get heavier, as if anchoring down to the ground.
  3. Bring your right ankle on top of your right thigh, just below the knee. Flex your foot strongly.
  4. Depending on the sensations you feel, you might choose to stay here. Continue to encourage your hips to open by pressing the palm of your hand against your thigh bone, right where it intersects with your pelvis (not at the knee).
  5. Breathe here for a while, encouraging your body to soften with each exhalation.
  6. Repeat on the other side

 

Thread the Needle

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  1. Begin with steps #1 – 3 of the “prep.”
  2. If it feels as though you may have more room to open your hips, then start to bring your left leg in towards your chest. Your pelvis may want to shift and you’ll feel your tailbone curling towards your navel – resist this and gently draw your tailbone back to the earth.
  3. Thread your right arm through the space between your two legs and catch ahold of your left thigh or shin. You can always thread a strap between the legs so as to lengthen your arms.
  4. Breathe and relax your hips.
  5. Repeat on the other side.

 

Ardha Matsyendrasana, Prep

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  1. Come to a seated position, bringing a blanket underneath your sit bones if you feel like you’ve lost your lumbar curve or need more ease for your hips and knees.
  2. Bend your right knee so that the foot comes towards your heel. Bend your left knee and place your left foot outside of your right knee.
  3. Taking ahold of your thighs, gently draw your heart towards the sky as you lengthen your spine and lift through the crown of your head.
  4. Breathe here.
  5. Repeat on the other side.

 

Ardha Matsyendrasana 

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  1. From ardha matsyendrasana prep, inhale and lengthen through your spine. Exhale as you spin your ribs towards the right, away from your left foot. Your right arm might drape across your left thigh and your left hand can rest on the ground besides your left hip.
  2. Breathe here.
  3. Repeat on the other side.

 

Half Gomukhasana 

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  1. Extend your bottom leg and flex your foot strongly.
  2. Bend your left knee and guide your left leg to rest on top of your right leg.
  3. You might stay here, breathing. Or, if you are feeling open, hinge from the hips – you’ll feel your pelvis rotate as your spine stays long – to draw your heart towards your toes. Breathe when you find your edge.
  4. Repeat on the other side.

 

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