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Coping With Sciatica

By Sarah Powers

Doing Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose) is also helpful. I prefer to alternate the distance between the feet to isolate different muscle groups first with the feet together, then hip distance apart, and lastly with the feet and knees quite wide, keeping the inner thighs (adductors) engaged. For increased circulation, move up and down in the pose before staying stationary for a number of breaths. Stretching the area by folding forward in Pigeon Pose or twisting in Ardha Matseyendrasana (Half Lord of the Fishes Pose) may also be helpful.

Finally, remember to continue with these poses long after the symptoms have disappeared, while still avoiding seated forward bends because re-injury is very common the first few months after sciatica has healed.

Sarah Powers blends the insights of yoga and Buddhism in her practice and teaching. She incorporates both a Yin style of holding poses and a Vinyasa style of moving with the breath, blending essential aspects of the Iyengar, Ashtanga, and Viniyoga traditions. pPranayama and meditation are always included in her practice and classes. Sarah has been a student of Buddhism in both Asia and the U.S. and draws inspiration from teachers such as Jack Kornfield, Toni Packer, and Tsoknyi Rinpoche. Sarah also draws inspiration from the Self Inquiry (Atma Vichara) of the Advaita Vedanta philosophy. She lives in Marin, California where she home schools her daughter and teaches classes. For more information go to

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Reader Comments

larry forsythe

I have had sciatica pain since the early '90s, My yoga practice relieved the problem for many years. Now I awake with severe pain on the left side butt. L5-S1 The question I have is why do I get relief walking from my bed bent over, torso parallel with the floor. Also forward bends are no problem, both palms on the floor.


i would like to know why i can't spread my legs more than a foot wide. it hurts my right hip and the tendons or ligaments on the inside of my thigh are extremely tight.


I've been practicing yoga for over ten years on my own, never been to any yoga class. I learnt through books and made lot of alignment mistakes in the first years. I practice twice daily early morning and late evening, each practice lasting 1hr30 to 2hrs. each day focus on specific poses, one day for standing poses,next day sitting poses&twists, following day balancing poses,and back bends but before any poses I always start with surya namaskar to warm up then followed by 10 minutes of sirsana, 10 minutes of sarvangasana only afterwards that I'll do whatever poses of that day. Then out of the blue I developed sciatica. At first I didn't know what it was, I just noticed I couldn't stay any longer in any of the poses due the shooting pain down the left buttock and foot and weakness of the left leg.on standing poses i'd shake and sometimes falling, couldn't hold any longer sirsana or sarvangasana for a minute, I have to come down the pain was just unbearable.I really thought I'm going to paralyse as I started having difficulty even walking, I couln'd lift the left leg. So I went to see my GP,after examination I was diagnosed with sciatica. I had to reexamine my practice. It's true what you mentioned about rounded lower back on forwardbends to compensate weak lowerback, for me it was the culprit. Now I've conquered sciatica through concave lowerback on forwards bends and intense practices, making sure the buttocks muscles and inner thigh muscles affected by sciatica are daily stretched and always keep in mind that it might come back, so no complaincancy.As th great Iyengar once said"diseases are always on our skin waiting for an opportunity to enter the body, keep on practicing diligently to prevent that" My sirsana, sarvangasana, hanumanasana, natarajasana& all my poses have been regained! Your advice were spot on! Namatse!

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