About the author
Article written for Hypnosis Review Quarterly by Sanjay Rampal ji. Sanjay is a senior-yoga master that has been teaching and practicing yoga in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh India for over twenty years.
|Many people have experienced or at least heard of sciatica. This is the condition where either compression of the L4‐S1 nerve roots affects the sciatic distribution or the sciatic nerve is injured as it exits the buttocks. It can also be influenced by the piriformis muscle, which originates on the anterior of the sacrum and passes under the sciatic notch. The piriformis functions in lateral rotation of the thigh.|
Many practitioners with tight hips and/or weak and tight lower‐back muscles will find that straight‐leg forward bends exasperate or even create sciatica. If the pelvis is unable to rotate forward (flexion of the hip) by the poses and iliacus muscles, quadratus lumborum, and rectus abdominis, then ante‐version or rotation of the pelvis forward will be limited, resulting in the pelvis rotating back (retroversion).
Translation: Instead of bending forward from the hips, the lower spine rounds and bends forward while the pelvis tugs back. This is why you often hear the instruction to “bend from the hip creases” to lift the sitting bones. The action of lifting and separating the sitting bones results in the pelvis tilting forward. If the pelvis does not tilt forward in a forward bend, the result can be either a strain or pull of the sacroiliac (SI) ligaments or sciatica. This happens more often in seated forward bends, where the pelvis is fixed to the floor.
It is therefore important to avoid these poses, as well as any pose where shooting pain develops. Sciatica is often felt on one side only, so instead of taking Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend), try Janu Sirsasana (Head‐to‐Knee Forward Bend). If the pain shoots from the lower back, bring the leg in toward the groin on the side you are not experiencing sciatica. If it is located more in your buttocks, bring in the leg in which you experience the pain. If bringing one leg in still makes you suffer from the shooting nerve pain, avoid seated forward bends altogether.
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Using your practice to heal the condition is possible with patience and specific sequencing. It is important to strengthen the muscles around the sciatic nerve and bring circulation to this region. First, I suggest you bend the knees when in the standing forward bends and Downward‐Facing Dog to assist in the forward pelvic rotation. Also, moving in and out of poses increases the circulation to the area.
Salabhasana (Locust Pose) is the best backbend for healing, because it strengthens the lower‐back muscles while bringing circulation to the hip muscles. The best variation is to inhale, lift the chest and legs, exhale. Then inhale and bring the legs apart (which affects the piriformis also), exhale and bring the legs back together. If lifting the feet irritates it, then do this with the feet moving along the floor. Repeat this five times before lowering down. This sequence could be inserted within the sun salutations and / or between other backbends like Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose) and Dhanurasana (Bow Pose).
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.
- Lie down in Shavasana posture. Raise your knees and bring your feet nearer to the hips keeping them apart. Keep your hands near the thighs.
- While inhaling, raise your hips and hands upwards simultaneously. Keep your hands over your head on the floor.
- Bring back your hands and hips to the original position while exhaling. Repeat three to four times and relax.
Benefits & Precautions :
Regular practice of this asana helps in mitigating painful conditions of diseases like arthritis, cervical or lumbar spondylysis and sciatica. It also helps in strengthening the muscles of the chest, hips, shoulders and hands. Hernia and Ulcer patients should not do this asana.
- Sit on the floor with legs outstretched. Fold your left leg and bring the foot under the right hip.
- Similarly, fold the right leg over the left and place the right heel by the side of the left hip. Both the soles should face upwards.
- Raise your right hand and bend it to bring it behind the shoulder.
- In the same way, bend your left hand behind the back and entwine the fingers. Keep your spine straight. Note that if the right leg is over the left, the right elbow should face upward and the left, downwards. This position may be reversed when the leg position is changed.
- Hold the posture for 30 seconds and repeat reversing the sides.
Benefits & Precautions :
Gomukhasana prevents enlargement of the testicles and calcium deposits in the shoulder joints. It also helps in treating sciatica and piles. It relieves muscular pain in the back and sprains in the forearms. It is one of the best asanas for respiratory disorders, hypertension and cardiac complaints.
Important Health & Medical Disclaimer
The techniques, ideas, and suggestions in this report are not intended as a substitute for proper medical advice. Yoga exercises and other forms of exercise can be dangerous, especially if performed without proper pre-exercise evaluation, competent instruction and personal supervision from a qualified fitness professional.
Always consult your physician or health care professional before performing any new exercise, exercise technique or beginning any new diet — particularly if you are pregnant, nursing, elderly, or if you have any chronic or recurring conditions.
Any application of the techniques, ideas, and suggestions in this document is at the reader’s sole discretion and risk. The editors, authors and or publishers of this report make no warranty of any kind in regard to the contents of this report, including, but not limited to, any implied warranties of merchant ability or fitness for any particular purpose.
The editors, authors and or publishers of this report are not liable or responsible to any person or entity for any errors contained in this report, or for any special, incidental, or consequential damage caused or alleged to be caused directly or indirectly by the information contained within.