Sciatica is most common in adults from 30 to 50, but especially prevalent in pregnant women. It is a sharp pain in both the leg and lower back that can become worse with sitting. In order to alleviate the aggressive ache of sciatica, here are some poses that are suitable for everyone, including expecting mothers. While by no means a miracle cure, these 4 stretch and restore poses target the SI joint and the piriformis muscle, two areas of the body where sciatic irritation often occurs.
Start standing, with an object (such as a chair or sturdy table) in front of you. Lift your right foot and extend the leg, placing the bottom of the heel atop the flat surface of the furniture. The height should be at hip level or below, as long as you can keep the leg straight without strain. Engage your thigh muscle, and press through the heel. Bring your hands to your hips as a guiding reminder to keep your right hip lowering towards the floor, rather than lifting up along with the leg. Breathe steadily in this pose, and then switch sides.
King Pigeon Pose is a deep hip stretch known as raja kapotasana. Starting in downward dog or on all fours, draw your right knee in towards your chest, then slide the right ankle up towards the left wrist and lower the weight down onto the right leg. The heel can remain close to the groin, or your shin can begin to work towards parallel with the front of the mat depending on the intensity desired. Your left leg remains straight back with the knee on the ground and top of the foot released. Make sure both hips are evenly distributing weight and you’re not rolling off to one side. Keep your chest upright, and you can always tuck a blanket or blocks underneath your right hip to assist.
STRETCH: LOWER BACK
Baddha konasana is commonly used as a deep hip stretch but can also serve as a great lower back stretch regardless of if you need space for the belly. While seated, bring the soles of the feet together with the knees open wide, and rather than focusing on pressing the knees towards the floor you should sit tall with a long spine. Keep the length in your back and tilt forward from the hips, feeling the stretch in the lower back. You may not have to lean forward far before you feel the stretch, so continue to breathe deeply and find your comfortable edge.
Have a yoga bolster, rolled up blanket, or thick pillow handy. Before coming into a reclined position on your back, tuck the prop underneath your knees to elevate your lower legs slightly. Lay back and find a comfortable position for your arms either alongside the body or with hands on the belly. This relaxing and restorative pose can give release to the lower back, so make sure the lumbar spine is touching the ground. You can stay here as long as you like.