Top 10 Yoga Poses for Immediate Sciatica Relief

I have suffered with sciatica, pinched nerve, low back and leg pain for 8 years now. Over the years I have tried numerous treatments for pain reduction and found that certain yoga poses really work. I narrowed down a few stretches that provided my swollen sciatic nerve and left leg immediate relief. Often my pain was caused from doing rigorous high impact exercise I shouldn’t have been doing (like running long distances). Other times the pain came at night when I was sleeping on a really soft bed. So over the years I found the following 10 stretches to be ideal for getting some immediate relief. These poses focus mainly on stretching out the hips, hamstrings, glutes and lower back.

Note: In all of these stretches I make sure to keep my back straight and chest out. My back is never arched.

1. Wide-Legged Forward Bend

This is a great stretch to start with. I start by bending forward and trying to put my palms on the floor. If this stretch is too much I will keep my hands on my ankles, hips or thighs. Regardless of how I do it I make sure my back is straight and not slouched. This is important for all of the stretches. After I have stretched the center for at least 30 seconds I reach my arms to the right leg. Then, I move them back to the center and finish by reaching towards my left leg for at least 30 seconds. When I walk my hands over I do so without getting up. If done correctly, the wide-legged forward bend provides a fantastic hamstring stretch.

2. Child’s pose

This is a classic stretch that is pretty easy for anyone to do. The point of child’s pose is to stretch my spine and back muscles. It is great for my lower back, lats, and upper back. I do this stretch after any type of exercise. Also, if I want to focus more on my lower back I can put my fists under my forehead instead of stretching them out. I’ve sometimes done this stretch in the middle of the night on my bed when my sciatic nerve was preventing me from sleeping. It is highly recommended.

3. Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose

This stretch is another good one I can do straight from my bed or on the floor/mat. A modified version of this stretch requires a strap which also provides a great hamstring stretch. I modify the original stretch by adding flexing motion. I basically flex my foot toward my shin. Flexing your foot back and forth creates a sort of flossing effect for my sciatic nerve. This one can be tough if my nerve is really flared up but can cause some great relief if I can tough it out.

4. Downward dog

My favorite stretch by far. It’s another hamstring stretch that works like a charm. However, this stretch did take some practice to loosen up my tight hamstrings when I first started. A nice trick to this stretch is to bend one of my knees at a time. I also make sure that my ears are right between my biceps. As always my back remains straight and I don’t let my ribcage stickout. Over time I aim to have my heels to eventually touch the ground.

5. Pigeon

Another fantastic stretch. This one focuses on my glutes and outer hip. If my pain is starting from my buttocks then this is definitely a go to stretch. I always remember to keep my body directly over my knee and quad. It’s easy to lean to one side or other but I try to resist this crave. Its another stretch that will take some time to master but it is definitely worth doing. Simply doing downward dog and this stretch before bed has a made a huge difference for my sleep quality.

6. High lunge

High lunge is a hip flexor stretch. It is important to stretch out the hip but it can be painful for some. So I sometimes switch to a modified version if I need it. I do sometimes feel some pain when I stretch my left side. I have learned over the years to modify this stretch when necessary. There are other variations like runner’s lunge, low lunge or simply putting my knee to the ground. If I’m doing a lot of core exercises then this stretch is particularly important.

7. Eye of the needle pose

This is a great stretch that can be done on my bed while lying down. Though I will get more out of it on a flat firm surface. In this pose I am temporarily stretch out my glutes. I like to grab my hamstring when pulling my legs toward my chest. I usually make sure to press down with my elbow on my bent knee if I can this will intensify the pose. I typically get some great relief after doing this pose especially in the glute and hip areas.

8. Fire log pose

I have recently discovered this pose but I found it to be very useful. It is another outer hip and glute stretch. It was a tough stretch to get used to at first but I feel great after it. It definitely took some practice to get comfortable with it. However, It is very simple pose. I basically cross my legs “indian style” but my foot is resting on top of my bent knee. I feel the stretch immediately in my hip but after it’s done I feel amazing.

9. Windshield wiper twist with foot over leg

Another recently discovered stretch that really works to open up my lower back. My legs are basically working like windshield wipers. I make sure to keep my feet on the floor and that they don’t move. They may bend to one side or the other but they should move places. Only my knees and legs move. Gravity is doing most of the work on this stretch. Once my legs are as far as they can to one side put my foot (the one closest to the floor) over my thigh. You’ll immediately feel my lower back open up.

10. Knees to chest pose

This is a super easy pose to do. I bring my knees to my chest with my knees bent. After I have brought both knees to my chest I leave just one leg to my chest and bring the other one flat on the ground, then switch. I can even move my knees around in a circular motion. This sometimes feels good to move some of that scar tissue around. This is another good lower back stretch.

I have found these stretches to be very useful for providing some sciatic pain relief. I know how tough it is to live with sciatica. Remember tight hamstrings, glutes and hips are the enemy. These stretches are good for immediate relief but can also be done on a daily bases to keep muscles loose.

I have also provided a complete yoga sequence that incorporates all of these stretches. I can do them individually but if I want to take a few minutes after a workout or just before going to bed I do this whole sequence.

Full Sequence

  • Upward Salute
  • Mountain pose
  • Standing half forward bend
  • Wide-Legged Forward Bend
  • Center, right and left
  • Standing half forward bend
  • Table pose
  • Cat pose
  • Table pose
  • Child’s pose
  • Downward dog (hold)
  • High lunge (right)
  • Downward dog
  • High lunge (left)
  • Downward dog
  • Pigeon pose (right)
  • Downward dog
  • Pigeon pose (left)
  • Downward dog
  • Child’s pose
  • Bound Angle pose
  • Fire log pose (both sides)
  • Corpse pose with knees bent
  • Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose
  • Reclining cow face pose or eye of the needle pose (both side)
  • Windshield wiper twist with foot over leg (both sides)
  • Corpse pose

Let me know what you think and feel free to check out my other post about sciatica workouts.