Sciatica refers to pain that radiates along the path of the sciatic nerve, which branches from your lower back through your hips and buttocks and down each leg.
Pain in the buttocks and/or down the back of the leg.
There are two causes of Sciatica:
Spine - bone/disc could be compressing a nerve causing a sensation in the sciatic nerve.
Piriformis (one of the deep six lateral rotator muscles of the femur, located in the buttocks) – If it is tight and compressing the nerve, the piriformis can also create pain or other sensations in the buttocks and down the back of the leg.
Lie down on the back with both legs straight.
Raise the leg (keep straight) on the painful side
If you cannot lift the leg more than a few feet off the floor then it is likely to be a spinal cause rather than due to the piriformis.
Spinal cause – Restore balance in the spine. Re-establish the lumbar curve.
Piriformis cause – focus on postures that stretch the piriformis (e.g. pigeon pose).
If you are experiencing pain and suspect you have sciatica, it is advisable to see your doctor so that they can diagnose you properly and advise on the appropriate treatment.
If you are thinking of starting yoga and have a medical condition, it is advisable to check with your doctor.
If you are practicing yoga with sciatica, always let the teacher know so that they can advise you on how to modify your practice. Remain mindful of the problem area and do not push yourself with anything that doesn’t feel right or feels painful.
If you are new to yoga it is advisable to practice under the guidance of a qualified teacher so they can help advise and correct alignment.