I have suffered from sciatica for several years with varying degrees of pain. I normally feel it in my buttocks and then sometimes down my leg and across the sole of my foot. I have had a full doctor's check-up and there is no obvious damage. Physiotherapy helped me in the beginning but after several treatments there was no further improvement. Are there any specific yoga poses or styles that might be helpful with this?
Sciatica is very hard to treat it can be different for every person. Sometimes it can be associated with disk inflammation pressing on the nerve. Other times it can be associated with running through a tight piriformis muscle. Either way the key is to open the hips, strengthen the core and lower back and bring freedom to lower spinal joints.
The poses that we use to open our hips are the half and double pigeon. They flex the hip and laterally rotate your femur bone, which stretches the glutes, outer hamstring, ITB and a lot of external rotator muscles that cause tightness in the outer hip region. This can often provide great freedom to your lower back.
These poses though can prove to be heavy for people with knee issues, so it is always encouraged to use a block to raise the hips if there is knee discomfort. Also, do not push these pose but rather work them gently, consistently over a period of time.
I have found that double pigeon is very effective for sciatica but I have also had people comment that it can irritate it. So you need to be intuitive as to what is right for you. Keep the feet flexed when in the poses and warm up with sun salutations before doing them.
Focus on also doing some gentle core strengthening exercises that will aid in protecting the spinal joints. Again do this gently at first and notice the reaction to it. Pilates is a great option for this type of training and will prepare your body for the more vigorous styles of yoga we see around the place.
Duncan Peak yoga expert