Many people are plagued with sciatic dating back to the 5th century BCE. It is defined in Webster’s dictionary as “pain affecting the back, foot, hip and outer side of the leg by compression of a spinal nerve root in the lower back.” There are many causes for sciatica from a narrowing spinal canal, lack of cushioning along the the vertebrae, a bulging or “herniated disc.”

Sciatica is recognized as tenderness and pain anywhere along the two sciatic nerves running down each leg; the longest nerves in the body. The nerve exit from the spine, threading through the sacrum, buttocks, back and outer edges of the leg/foot. A tingling in the back of the of the thigh may also be a sign of sciatic nerve pain. Sciatica pain may can be caused by a small but significant muscle deep within the hip—the piriformis. A 2005 study in the Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine indicates that nearly 70 percent of sciatica cases are caused by this muscle.

The sciatic nerve is sandwiched between the piriformis and the small hard tendons that lie against the bone of the sacrum and pelvic bone. If the piriformis is tight (and it often is), it exerts pressure on the sciatic nerve and pushes it against the tendons beneath it which can cause excruciating pain; this is known as the piriformis syndrome.

A yoga practice that progresses from twists through “Downward-Facing Dog” can align, lengthen, and strengthen in the lower back. However, with all painful conditions, a medical professional should be consulted before pursuing a Yoga practice.

Yoga postures that lengthen the hamstrings can help to ease the pain of sciatic as well as other gentle twisting poses. When initiating any Yoga pose for the first time or if physical issues arise, go slow and be sure to the practice correct form to achieve the most benefit and prevent injury.

“Downward Dog” can help with realignment of the spine and releasing tight nerves in the back and down the leg. There are variations to all Yoga poses so if you have pain you can modify how long you hold it and adjust the pose appropriately.

In the last Yoga class this week, Friday, Nov. 15 at Gold’s Gym at 5:30 p.m. these exceptional, dedicated Yoginis for many years, present their Grand Yoga Finale pose beautifully, performing Downward dog that ends in “Pidgeon Pose,” a class favorite.

Join us at the Sebring YMCA for our continued Yoga classes and the perennial Yoga journey.

A byproduct of physical pain is mental/emotional tension that further can lodge in the body. thus, relieving physical pain and tightness can be addressed. Take stock of the way you hold tension in the face, shoulders, neck back while sitting, standing and moving; observe the muscles that are tense. Breathe deeply, close the yes and let go. Pay attention to not reacting to pain by squeezing and tightening in the body. Let go mentally when it first occurs as a ‘mindset.” Run your thoughts over/through the body.

When doing “Downward Dog” or simple twists, rest in-between and analyze the movement each time. Focus on relaxing tension and hold gentle thoughts as you breath. You may find that deep breathing and exhaling can be “the exhaust pipe” for pain. Just give it try as you gently practice each Yoga pose. Be kind to yourself! Join us at the YMCA for our continued Yoga practice with a wide selection of new challenges for healing the mind, body, emotions, spirit!