Sunday, October 2, 2022

Is Yoga Good For Nerve Pain

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When Developing A Sequence For Sciatic Pain Understand That What Works For One Person Might Not Work For Someone Else Because The Sources Of The Sciatic Pain Might Be Different


I have a client that struggled with daily sciatic nerve pain for 5 years before she began working with me. Very, very slowly, I introduced different movements into her program. The one thing that still provokes pain is supine hip flexion, abduction, and external rotation, so we don’t do that. As a result, reclined pigeon is not a good choice for her. She now has days where she is completely pain free, and I am hopeful that eventually she will be able to do reclined pigeon without provoking symptoms. Her sciatic nerve pain comes from an injury related to a fall. Five years of pain doesn’t go away over night; by working slowly, methodically, and with a sense of mindfulness, she has been able to make significant improvements in pain level, strength, and mobility.

My point , is we can’t look inside someone to know what’s going on, either emotionally or physically, nor should we try. It is outside our scope of practice. In yoga, we use the asana as a bridge to teach self-awareness and mindfulness.

Maybe The Exact Asana Matters Less Than The Understanding It Brings Including The Ability Of The Student To Reflect On What Seems To Help And What Seems To Hurt


While researching this blog, I was sitting on the ground outside my studio, with anatomy books spread out. A gentleman stooped down, curious about what I was studying. I explained I was writing a blog on yoga and sciatica. He became very animated as he told me about his lumbar fusion and the role yoga played in his healing process. He then folded forward into a standing forward fold to demonstrate his mobility. Forward folds feel great for him. However, backbends feel less great, so he does fewer of those. It is this self-regulation we can hopefully teach our students to empower them on their paths to lives filled with diversified movement, mobility, and awareness.

Q & A with Jules

Jules: Awesome contribution to the yoga community, as always, Jenn. We all thank you! I’d love to explore some of these themes further with you if you don’t mind.

Jenn: Yes, of course! Not only does reading through research and writing about anatomy and its applications make me happy , but exploring these types of concepts and critically thinking about working with people in a yoga/movement setting is a bit of a passion. Thank you so much for allowing me to be a part of the conversation.


  • Kelley, G.A., & Kelley, K.S., . Meditative movement therapies and health-related quality-of-life in adults: a systematic review of meta-analyses. PLoS One, 10, 1-33.
  • Rooper, A.H., & Zafonte, R.D., . Sciatica. New England Journal of Medicine, 372,1240-1248.
  • It Appears There Is A Slight Discrepancy Between The Research And What Consumers Are Being Promised


    This isn’t to say yoga doesn’t help with sciatica. As noted in the studies above, the early research appears promising. It does, however, mean re-examining the guarantee of yoga as a “cure” . Exactly which asana are consistently promoted on the path to the sciatica cure? Variations of pigeon pose, gomukhasana, and ardha matsyendrasana.

    I am hopeful that by shedding some brief anatomical light on the sciatic nerve, documented causes of sciatic nerve pain, and how this may or may not relate to the piriformis , we as yoga practitioners can be a little more careful in our words and perhaps approach back pain with a more discerning eye.

    First, a little bit of anatomy. The sciatic nerve innervates the posterior portion of the thigh . It is comprised of spinal nerves coming from lower lumbar vertebrae and sacral vertebrae, specifically L4-S3. It is important , and exits the pelvis below the piriformis via a hole named after it, the greater sciatic foramen. While it does not supply any of the structures in the gluteal region, it does supply branches to the hip joint and muscular branches to the hamstrings .

    The next logical question is what exactly is piriformis syndrome and how does this relate back to yoga? I am going to explain the function of the piriformis, what this has to do with sciatica, and how the interpretation of piriformis syndrome as a cause of sciatica has seeped into mainstream culture.

    The Sciatic Nerve Piriformis Syndrome And Why Pigeon Pose Might Not Always Deliver Relief


    Yoga has long been touted as a healing practice. The ashtanga primary series, for instance, isreferred to as “yoga chikitsa,” or yoga therapy, because of the cleansing and toning effect it is believed to have on the body and mind. However, as more and more people suffer from various aches and pains, including sciatica, is it possible the postures we think of as healing might need to re-examined?

    It will come as no surprise that yoga appears to have a positive impact on those with low back pain; whether or not it’s any more beneficial than other forms of exercise has yet to be determined . Yoga does, however, appear to be as effective on improving quality of life in individuals with breast cancer, heart failure, and diabetes. Yoga also appears to be an effective ancillary treatment for trauma disorders, such as PTSD, anxiety, and depression .

    Adho Mukha Svanasana Downward Facing Dog Pose Or Dolphin With Splits In The Air

    Yoga for Sciatica

    Doing splits on the ground can make sciatica pain worse, but practicing splits while in Downward Facing Dog can help stretch out the legs without the stress or compression on the nerve. Just remember not to force anything and if the hamstrings are tight, keep the knees bend and heels may stay hovering off the ground.

    Everything You Need To Know About Sciatic Nerve Pain Yoga Exercises For Relief

    Sometimes, a sudden sharp pain shooting down your leg causes you so much discomfort, that you are left reeling. This kind of pain is often known as sciatica nerve pain.

    To elaborate further, the term Sciatica is used to describe the symptoms of various kinds of leg pain like tingling, numbness, or weakness,which shoot down the lower back via a nerve called the sciatic nerve in the rear portion of the leg.

    Sciatica, also known as radiculopathy, is a culmination of symptoms and not a diagnosis. The causes of sciatica pain can be a spondylolisthesis, herniated disc degenerative disc disease, and spinal stenosis.

    A Summary Of Inquiries And Findings In Pain Management In Yoga Practitioners

    Studies compiled in Table 1 describe the nonpharmacological management of pain. Despite the heterogeneity in the yoga intervention, all the studies have shown the improvement in the yoga practitioners group as compared to the control group. This may clearly indicate that the mind-body techniques are quite useful in the treatment of back pain or other types of pain.

    Table 1

    For additional information:

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  • But What About Things The Internet Promises Yoga Will Cure Such As Sciatica


    When I ran a PubMed search for yoga and sciatica, I found four peer reviewed journal articles:

  • The first showing yoga had no adverse effects on sciatica and, in fact, led to a self reported reduction in pain .
  • The second found yoga asana was effective in reducing pain and improving mobility in individuals suffering from sciatic symptoms .
  • The third found individuals suffering from conditions such as sciatica, headaches, migraines and strokes were more likely than those without neurological conditions to explore mind body therapies, including deep breathing, meditation, and yoga. The authors concluded there was a lack of high quality studies demonstrating the efficacy of these interventions on neurological conditions, with the exception of headaches, where mind-body therapies appeared to be effective in reducing the frequency .
  • The fourth concluded the only therapies with good quality evidence for efficacy in chronic back conditions were cognitive behavior therapy, spinal manipulation, exercise, and interdisciplinary rehabilitation. In acute low back pain, the only therapy with good quality evidence of efficacy was heat. Yoga did not have enough high quality evidence to determine whether or not it was beneficial in helping sciatica symptoms .
  • Compare this to a Google search of sciatica and yoga. Google generated 502,000 hits. The first page is filled with articles promising to cure sciatica with 6 simple yoga poses.

    Six Yoga Asana To Get Relief From Sciatica Lower Back Pain Or Slipped Disc:

    Bhujangasana Benefits:– Best Yoga Pose for Sciatica

    • Stretches muscles in the shoulders, chest and abdominals.
    • Decreases stiffness of the lower back.
    • Strengthens the arms and shoulders.
    • Increases flexibility.

    This also helps to treat “gridhrasi,” .

    Apanasana Benefits:Wind-Relieving or Knees to Chest Pose

    • Stretches and stabilizes the pelvis and low back and can reduce lower back pain.
    • Reduces excessive anger, excitement, anxiety and high blood pressure.
    • Helps with muscle guarding, hyperlordosis, sciatic nerve impingement muscle spasm, spinal stenosis, and disc herniation.

    Apanasana is one of the most recommended poses or Yoga Exercise to ease sciatica pain or numbness. This is a yoga pose which has been designed to give relief from the lower back pain. Apanasana can help warm up your lower back area in order to give relief during a back pain problem. 

    Energizing Pose Benefits:

    • This asana helps you to improve your body mechanics and posture. 
    • With the help of this asana one can calm their mind and body, and with the help of stretching it also strengthen the legs.
    • It can also relieve back pain associated with your sciatica.

    This asana or Yoga Poses can relief your sciatica pain and help to stretch the affected muscles, to ease the cramp-like pain. To make it easier on yourself, you could elevate your lower leg by placing the heel off the ground on a block or book. 

    Supta Padangusthasana Benefits: Pose for lower back and some kinds of backache

    Shalabhasana Benefits:  Locust Pose

    Insular Cortex Moderates Increased Pain Tolerance In Yoga Practitioners

    Today, yoga is being considered more often to treat painful conditions. Studies are in progress to investigate the possible neuroanatomical changes after practicing yoga and use sensory testing and magnetic resonance imaging techniques to test its benefits. One study has shown that North American yogis had more tolerance to pain as compared to individually matched controls . This study also examined the effect of long-term and regular yoga practice on the experienced North American yogis as compared to the control and analyzed the thermal detections, pain thresholds, and cold pain tolerance in both groups. Analyses of the structural changes in the brain gray matter and white matter have revealed that yogis had increased left intrainsular white matter integrity as compared to controls and, due to their parasympathetic activation and increased awareness, they are able to tolerate more pain as compared to the control group.

    Yoga For Sciatica: 5 Amazing Yogasanas For Relief From Lower Back Pain

    You might all be familiar with the saying “Sitting is the new Smoking”! Well, indeed its true, be it working from home or at office, the ongoing sedentary lifestyle with more sitting and lying down, and lesser activities have increased the risk of chronic conditions like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, back pain, hip pain etc. According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, back and hip pain is one of the most common health problems plaguing 1 out of 4 people nowadays, with sciatica being reported every now and then.

    Yoga For Sciatica # 1: Reclining Big Toe Pose To Ease Sciatica Pain:

    Pin on Yoga for Sciatica and Lower Back Pain

    This yoga pose for sciatica is also known as Supta Padangusthasana. To practice this yoga pose:

    • Simply lay on the flat ground, and placing an elastic strap around the ball of your right foot, stretch it.
    • Lift up your right leg towards the ceiling while holding the strap with your hand.
    • Keep the foot flexed by keeping your buttocks pressed against the ground and hold in the same position for 10 breaths.
    • Then slowly lower the right leg by bending the right knee towards your chest and then subsequently placing the leg on the floor.
    • Repeat on the left side.

    Use: This yoga pose for sciatica involves mainly stretching of calves, hamstrings, hips and the groin which helps in healing sciatic pains and increases the strength of the knees.

    Pain Relief Methods That People With Sciatica Patients Can Follow

    People who complain of sciatica pain should first take care not to tire the legs and waist, and to rest. There are different causes of sciatic pain along with the problems that occur in the spine. In the researches, it has been learned that internal organ disorders, nerve drugs used, problems that occur after birth, wrong fracture-dislocation correction methods, spinal tumors, diabetes, and lumbar hernia are the causes.

    Hot spring waters and hot baths are recommended as the treatment of sciatica. Before starting the treatment, the exact cause of the disease is found after the doctor’s examination, some drugs are stopped to take, or some necessary drugs are started to take, and a good rest and strengthening of the muscles will be appropriate methods for treatment. In the treatment of the disease, doctors recommend that people do sit-ups 3 times a day until they get tired and strengthen their lower back muscles.

    Sciatica is a serious ailment that negatively affects a person’s daily life. Those with damaged sciatic nerves feel extreme pain in the lower back and legs and will do anything to get rid of it. Here are eight natural ways to relieve pain that you can follow:

  • Amber: Many herbs and oils can relieve the pain and inflammation of sciatica. Amber oil is known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Apply this oil to the aching area two or three times a day. You will see that the pain is relieved.
  • Unique Gut Microbiome Composition May Be Fibromyalgia Marker

    Bushnell and Villemure found dramatic differences in gray and white matter between the general population and the yoga practitioners. As Bushnell explains,

    We found from brain anatomy studies that the people practicing yoga had more gray matter in a number of regions; as we get older, we lose gray matter, but we didn’t see that decrease in the yoga practitioners, which suggests that yoga may have a neuroprotective effect. When we looked at pain perception, there was a significant increase in pain tolerance in the yoga practitioners, and there was a change in pain thresholds, too.

    Villemure has a theory that many of the benefits of yoga might be related to autonomic nervous system and stress reduction as it relates to chronic pain. The autonomic nervous system has two branches: the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system. Villemure is also examining how yoga practitioners might have a different method of coping with the anticipation of pain.

    When most people are expecting pain, it triggers the “fight-or-flight” response of the sympathetic nervous system which causes cortisol levels to skyrocket. On the flip side, Villemure observed that when yogis anticipate pain, their parasympathetic nervous system activates. This creates a “tend-and-befriend” or “rest-and-digest” response, as opposed to a “fight-or-flight” response.

    If you’d like to read more on this topic check out my Psychology Today blog posts: 

    Quick Tips To Prevent Occurrence And Recurrence Of Sciatica

  • Ensure that you take adequate rest not only when you are in the middle of an episode but also after the episode is over. Don’t overwork yourself, especially in terms of excessive standing or lifting weights. 
  • Low impact exercises like walking and water exercises like water aerobics and swimming can also help prevent flare-ups.
  • Ensure you do stretching and strengthening exercises daily after consulting your healthcare professional.
    • Stretches the lower part of your body well, relieving aching muscles
    • Makes the hip region more flexible
    • Promotes good posture

    Aim: Maintain the pose for as long as you are comfortable; the bend will relieve weariness.

    Tip: If you are not comfortable with this pose, try this variation:

  • Lie on your back and straighten your legs with the back of your knees touching the ground. Inhale.
  • Exhale and bring your knees gently to your chest. Ensure that your back is flat on the ground.
  • Hold this pose for 10 seconds while taking slow and deep breaths.
  • Exhale and release your legs regaining your original position. 
  • Repeat 5 times or as you find comfortable.
  • Now, all these poses will leave you feeling stronger with more confidence in your back, hips, and thighs. You can supplement them with some hip-openers and stretches.

    • Elongates the spine, correcting posture
    • Strengthens the back and hip muscles

    Aim: Try to get your hands to meet at the back and maintain this posture as long as you can without straining yourself. 

    How Does Yoga Help People With Neuropathy And Nerve Damage

    Yoga is much more than an approach to physical exercise. It is a holistic approach to living that incorporates an ancient philosophy of mind and body. It recognizes the direct link between the mind and the body and uses specific exercises to strengthen this link. As the body becomes stronger and more flexible, the mind also becomes stronger and more flexible.

    If you’re suffering from neuropathy due to a health condition, yoga has been proven to help. Here are some ways that it can specifically help you under these circumstances and why:

    Yoga Has The Opposite Effect On Your Brain As Chronic Pain

    Posted May 27, 2015

    Chronic pain triggers changes in brain structure that are linked to depression, anxiety, and impaired cognitive function. New research shows that practicing yoga has the opposite effect on the brain and can relieve chronic pain.

    Chronic pain alters brain structure. Brain imaging studies have shown that chronic pain leads to changes in gray matter volume and the integrity of white matter connectivity. Gray matter is home to the neurons in specific brain regions, while white matter creates communication lines between your various brain regions.

    In a recent lecture, “Effect of Environment on the Long-Term Consequences of Chronic Pain,” at the American Pain Society’s annual May 2015 meeting in Palm Springs, M. Catherine Bushnell, presented findings from cutting edge research on the ability of yoga to counteract chronic pain that she’s spearheading at NIH/NCCIH.

    Catherine Bushnell, PhD, is scientific director of the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health  at the U.S. National Institutes of Health  where she oversees a program on the brain’s role in perceiving, modifying, and managing pain. In a press release, Bushnell summed up the findings of her research by saying, “Practicing yoga has the opposite effect on the brain as does chronic pain.” 

    Yoga For Sciatica # 3: King Pigeon Pose Or Raja Kapotasana

    King Pigeon Pose or Raja Kapotasana is the strongest yoga pose to practise stretching. Do it as follows:

    • Start by placing your hands and knees on the ground or from “downward-facing dog” posture.
    • Then slowly bring your right knee forward and place your right foot in line with the left hip.
    • Then release the left foot and slide it back and bring your upper body in the forward direction. The toes must be pressing into the mat on reaching this posture.
    • Hold in the same position for a few seconds.
    • Repeat the same for the left side.
    • You can also take the help of a table to support yourself.

    Use: King Pigeon yoga pose is the strongest stretching practice and helps in providing sciatica pain relief. This is not an easy pose and requires regular practice of yoga.

    Baddha Konasana Butterfly Or Gomukhasana Cow Face Pose

    From a seated position, get into Baddha Konasana by bringing the soles of your feet together. Depending on the flexibility of you hip flexors, your heels may be away from you, forming a diamond shape with your legs, or by your groin. If needed, place blocks or pillows underneath your knees for support.

    To get into Gomukhasana, slide your left heel towards your right hip so that your knee is centered with your body and points forward. Stack your right knee on top of your left with your right heel resting by your left hip. Depending on hip flexor openness, your knees might be far apart from each other. If this is too much tension for your hips, you may extend your bottom leg straight forward. Switch sides after a few breaths or minutes.

    Yoga For Lower Back Pain And Sciatica: How Does It Work

    ヨガ panosundaki Pin

    If you are experiencing lower back pain or sciatica, you may benefit from certain yoga poses. Yoga is a type of mind-body therapy that can relieve physical pain as well as accompanying stress. Particular yoga poses for sciatic pain may strengthen and relax your body.

    Yoga stretches for sciatica provide relief as they stretch the muscles surrounding the sciatic nerve. They also help strengthen the glutes and lower spine, which also lengthens the lower portion of the spine. Some yoga positions for sciatica work by stretching and strengthening the hips and lower back. Yoga stretches for sciatica may also help you manage and reduce the symptoms caused by a herniated disc. 

    Yoga For Sciatica: 6 Best Yoga Poses For Sciatica Pain

    Yoga For Beginners

    Did you know that 40% of people suffer from sciatica pain in their lifetime? Sciatica is a condition that affects more than 3 million people in the US each year. It is characterized by pain radiating along the sciatic nerve, which runs from the lower back down one or both legs.

    If you’re someone who has suffered from sciatica, then you already know how much it can negatively impact your life. Luckily, there are things you can do to ease your pain, such as practicing yoga for sciatica.

    But with so many different yoga forms available, how do you know which one is best for treating sciatica pain? Check out this guide to learn about the best beginner-friendly yoga poses to help relieve your discomfort.

    Research Backs Yoga For Sciatica Pain Which Poses Work

    Reading Time: 5 minutes 44 seconds

    Living in pain can lower your quality of life. Everyday activities such as working, cleaning, and caring for your family become more difficult. Instead of engaging in your favorite hobbies, you spend your time attempting to ease the pain. One of the most common pains that fall into this category is sciatica.

    Yoga Poses For Sciatic Nerve Pain That Work Instantly

    August 11, 2018

    Sciatic nerve pain is more common than you might imagine. As one of those dreaded ailments that you can’t actually see, it’s hard to explain to a non-sufferer just how excruciating this kind of nerve pain can be.

    Luckily most sciatica flare-ups do pass on their own but when you are in the midst of an attack, there are some gentle yoga poses for sciatic never pain that can make all the difference. In fact, I have been able to sometimes achieve instant relief using the poses below so they are worth a try.

    If you are pregnant and suffering with sciatica, this link has some yoga poses for sciatic nerve pain that are safe to do during pregnancy. 

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