Sciatica used to be something I had only ever associated with growing old and creaky, like arthritis, and constipation. Then, I got pregnant. As my belly grew, I noticed a shooting pain that started in my butt and ran down my leg. "Oh yeah," said my mother. "That's sciatica. Welcome to the club."
It turns out, you don't need a herniated disk or other back problem to cause sciatic nerve pain. All you need are some tight butt muscles or a baby's head pressing down on your pelvic floor. Ouch! Luckily, lots of yoga poses can help alleviate sciatica. Lunges and warrior 2 are a great place to start. In addition, here are some of my favorite for opening up the hips, relaxing the low back, and getting rid of that pain in the butt.
1. Badha konasana
(For all the seated postures, it helps to have a blanket under your sitz bones.)
Sit on the edge of your blanket and bring soles of the feet together, knees out to the side. Try to keep your back nice and straight. You can stay here or begin to fold if that feels better, keeping your back straight by trying to reach your chin past your toes.
2. Tara asana
From badha konasana, push your feet away from you about another twelve to eighteen inches. This time fold with a soft, rounded spine, as you try to rest your forhead on your feet. (It's ok if it doesn't reach!)
3. Pigeon, and variations
There's nothing quite like pigeon for getting deep into the hips. This great restorative pose can be even more comfortable with a blanket under the hip of your folded leg and a block to rest your forhead.
If full pigeon is a bit too much, or just to shake things up a bit, try double pigeon.
Some alignment points to note here. The shins are stacked on top of each other and paralel to the edge of your mat. Your heels are a fair distance away from your hips. And lastly, do not let your ankles collapse. Keep your feet flexed. (This shouldn't feel like easy pose.) You can fold over in this pose with a flat back as well, if it feels good.
One thing's for sure. Whether suffering from sciatica or not, these poses feel wonderful and are certainly not a pain in the butt to do! Enjoy them this weekend and let us know how they feel.