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Effective Yoga Stretches For Sciatic Nerve Pain Relief

Effective Yoga Stretches For Sciatic Nerve Pain Relief

Sciatic nerve pain comes from a tenderness of pain along the sciatic nerve. It will usually show up on one side of the body, although there are sciatic nerves running down each each leg. They are connected at their core to several nerve roots that come from the spinal cord. The sciatic nerve runs between layers of your glutes and the deep muscles of the back of the thigh, down the outside edge of your leg and down to your feet.

What Is The Sciatic Nerve?

As the largest nerve in the body, when it becomes agitated, you’ll experience the symptoms in many ways. Nerve pain, weakness, and tingling can be felt in the buttocks, back of the thigh, and into the toes. In over 70% of the cases of sciatic nerve pain, it’s the tightness of muscles that causes pain, also known as the piriformis.

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Yoga is an ancient practice combining poses and movements which nurture the body. Some of these poses offer sciatic nerve pain relief. Yoga also has the ability to help you manage the pain through various poses that invoke positive energy.

Why Yoga Helps Ease Sciatic Nerve Pain

If your sciatic nerve pain is due to piriformis, there are gentle yoga poses that offer sciatic nerve pain relief. They can align, lengthen, and strengthen the back. Yoga is capable of managing and reducing problems that are caused by herniation, often reducing it. Gentle poses that include basic asanas include the half spinal twist and downward-facing dog. These poses align your spine as well as lengthen and strengthen the back. Be gentle with these poses, working on them progressively for a few minutes every day.

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Ardha Matsyendrasana (Half Spinal Twist)

This yoga pose will give the piriformis a mild stretch, encouraging the muscles to lengthen.

  1. Sit on the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat in front of you.
  2. Take your right foot, put it under your left knee and around to your outer left hip. The right knee should be pointing forward.
  3. If your left sit bone is lighter on the floor than your right, lean into the left sit bone. This will be the stretch you’re looking for.
  4. Hold your left knee with both hands. Hold the pose and breathe in deeply while lengthening your spine. Breathe out and relax the spine.
  5. Repeat the exercise on the other side. Try doing this three times daily on each side, holding the pose for 20 seconds at a time.

Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog)

This pose does many things for the body and the mind, including a deep stretch for the hamstrings and lower back. Any pose that incorporates a good hip stretch is going to help with sciatic nerve pain relief. Tight hamstrings are connected with a tight piriformis, which further constricts the sciatic nerve.

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  1. Get on your hands and knees on the floor.
  2. Put your knees below your hips with your hands a little bit forward of your shoulders.
  3. Spread your palms with index fingers turned out a little and turn your toes under.
  4. As you exhale, lift your knees from the floor. Keep them slightly bent with heels lifted off the floor.
  5. Focus on moving your tailbone away from your pelvis, pressing it lightly toward the pubis.
  6. Lift your sitting bones up toward the ceiling.
  7. When you exhale, push the top of your thighs back, stretching your heels down on to the floor. Make sure not to lock your knees.
  8. Press the base of your index fingers into the floor. Feel yourself lifting along the inner arms to the shoulders. Firm your shoulder blades and widen them. Make sure not to let your head hang, instead keep it between your upper arms.

Raja kapotasana (King Pigeon Pose)

Sciatic nerve pain can be reduced with yoga poses that “passively” stretch your hips. You want to use poses that create an external rotation of the thigh. The King Pigeon Pose is known as the king of hip openers and is the strongest of all the piriformis stretches. As it’s a deep stretch, when you try it for the first time, stay on the edge of the stretch and breathe. This is going to allow the piriformis to release.

  1. Begin on your hands and knees, bring your right knee forward and out to the right.
  2. Bring your right foot forward also until the heel is aligned with your left hip. Your shin should be at a 45-degree angle. In order to protect your knee, keep your foot flexed.
  3. In order to stretch the right piriformis, lean your upper body forward, tuck the toes under and walk the left leg until it’s straight back. This will allow your right thigh to rotate out passively. The hip will naturally descend to the floor.
  4. Make sure your hips are level to the floor and square to your mat. If your hip doesn’t reach the floor, use a blanket.
  5. Do this pose on the other side. Hold the poses for a few minutes, using your breath to go deeper into the pose.

Featured photo credit: Earl McGehee/Flickr via flickr.com

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Last Updated on August 13, 2020

12 Benefits of Meditation That Improve Your Body And Mind

12 Benefits of Meditation That Improve Your Body And Mind

As a mediation teacher, I am constantly confronted with these two questions regarding the benefits of meditation:

1. Why can’t I enjoy the benefits of meditation continuously?

I ask back: Is it maybe because you see mediation as a technique, performance, or some exclusive activity? The answer is: yes!

Or, because your mind is constantly evolving on the past negative attachments and traditional habits? After careful thinking they answer: yes, probably!

Although meditation is very simple and challenging at the same time, in the above mentioned case, it’s not easy to benefit from meditation, especially when approached with the idea that it has to be learned, studied, or applied. Meditation is to be seen as a natural, mental cleansing process that happens on a basis of awareness on a moment-to-moment experience. When that takes place, the benefits of meditation are continuous.

2. What is the purpose of meditation?

The purpose of meditation is to accomplish a level of consciousness for mastering the mind and uniting with the finest, deepest, and subtlest part of yourself as a being.

It is a conscious process of observation of the mind—helping the meditator to understand the structure of its mind and the quality of its content. During this process, countless benefits of a physical, mental, and spiritual/philosophical nature arise for the meditator.

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Meditation as a Fixer and Benefactor

In this article we’ll have a look at the primary and the ultimate benefits of mediation, which improve your body and mind at the same time. For the sake of clarity, readability, and tangible experience, I have separated the benefits into three groups.

You can change just about anything you don’t like about yourself (psychologically, as well as physically) through meditation. However, this is only possible with a specific approach, when your brain allows the benefits of meditation to do their work.

This means not to interrupt the benefit with other thoughts, but to let their effect implement itself in your body and mind. This approach is crucial.

The following exercises will make you feel the benefits of meditation instantly, but the continuity of the benefits of meditation on your body and mind depend on the discipline of your brain, how you manage external stimuli and your thoughts.

Less Physical, More Psychological

Even though the practice of meditation is more psychological and less physical, the first benefit we’re going to experience is both physical as well as mental.

This benefit happens literally immediately, right at the moment of meditation. It is the essence of mediation basically.

The First Benefit of Meditation

The first benefit of meditation is twofold:

  1. Improving inward attention (sharpening the mind)
  2. Relaxation of the body

Let’s do it right now. This benefit consists of only one step, and it is very simple to perform. It goes like this:

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Sit still and pay attention to your exhalation.

That’s it! Technically, the whole journey into the world of mediation begins here and nowhere else. And right here, you benefit from this step in the following way:

When you pay attention to the flow of your exhalation (gentle, deep, effortless exhalation), your body begins with the process of relaxation instantly (your heart rate slows down, your nervous system calms, and tension in your muscles is relieved).

When the nervous system calms, your mind calms down, and, more specifically, less thoughts are produced by your mind. How, exactly? By applying one of the most valuable mental skills—attention—the mind follows the breathing and has no space and time to generate any other thoughts. Only when the attention goes off the breath, other thoughts are constructed, and the mind is accelerating with thought production again.

Keeping the First Benefit Effective and Ongoing

Here you apply the approach of not letting the relaxation and attention process get interrupted; rather let the effects of these benefits implant in your body and mind as deeply as possible.

This is to say, the instant relaxation and inward attention happen at the same time when you follow the flow of your breath. Repeating this process—creating a constant rhythm out of the breathing and the attention—you create a process of meditation.

Keep your attention on the flow of your breath and see how the calmness of body and mind begin to rule your present moment. The longer you stay connected to your breathing, the stronger you’ll feel the benefit. Start with 3-5 minutes at a time without doing anything else, and increase to 10-20 minutes and onwards.

Can you think of a better, simpler and quicker exercise that can relax the body and improve attention in this way, at this speed?

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This benefit takes you to the second one.

The Second Benefit of Meditation

While still working with the first benefit of mediation, you slowly start to see the second benefit of mediation, which is fourfold. I call it the major value of mediation:

  1. Energy (physical and mental strength)
  2. Observance
  3. Peacefulness (stillness, and space of mind for deeper observation)
  4. Patience

Peacefulness is the source of a blissful life. The energy is the fuel to express that blissfulness. Whatever we want to accomplish in life we need: 1) Physical and mental strength, 2) Observance of that energy, 3) Peacefulness—the calmness and stillness that creates space for freedom of being and creative thinking, and 4) Patience for the process of accomplishment.

You can only get creative in thinking and boosted with physical and mental energy when you get in touch with the deepest levels of yourself—when you harmonize your mental and physiological activities. How do you do that? Let’s try it right now:

This step involves the observation of the two separate movements of your breath. After paying attention on your exhalation, you have prepared your body and mind to really see and feel what true peacefulness and true energy means.

1. Energy

Keep your attention on your inhalation (inhaling gently, deeply and lightly) and feel the new energy (new oxygen) flowing in your body. The inhalation is the symbol for aliveness and vitality. It is the the primary act that connects the baby’s body with the outside world after coming out of the womb[1]. Each inhalation is a new opportunity for your body to revive, regenerate, and renew itself.

2. Observance

The observance comes during the process of meditation, enabling you to see the physiological benefits of introducing new energy to your body. Use that benefit by utilizing its effects, and create deeper observation into yourself. With every single inhalation, this observation will enable you to generate even more energy, mentally and physically.

3. Peacefulness

Keep your attention on your exhalation, and feel how, out of the relaxation, peacefulness is spreading throughout your whole body. The exhalation is the symbol for relaxation and peacefulness. Only through meditation can you realize what absolute peacefulness means.

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4. Patience

The meditation delivers the previous benefits to you immediately and opens up the possibility for many other benefits and great virtues. A specific one to mention, which is essential for reaching the ultimate benefits of meditation, is patience. If you have experienced the aforementioned benefits, it means that you have invested a certain amount of patience into mastering yourself and your mind.

The Ultimate Benefits of Meditation

Patience is a key quality when it comes to the ultimate benefits of meditation.

Since the mind is the tool that reveals everything, mediation is the method for the proper utility of the tool.

The above mentioned benefits of mediation lead to the ultimate benefits of mediation—qualities that depict what makes a human being human. As you dwell in a meditative state of being, the following benefits begin to emanate:

  • Diligence: the persistence for righteous effort to reach an intrinsic value; inner strength.
  • Temperance: to express self-control and show excellence in managing the physio-biological and mental necessities
  • Courage: using righteous effort and braveness to look into the weaknesses of yourself and at the hardship of your life, endure it and patiently overcome the obstacles
  • Loving kindness and Compassion – a capacity to care, understand, and tolerate other people’s state of being, wishing them freedom from suffering.
  • Wisdom: the moment when you feel that mediation gives you the feeling and the knowledge that what you do relating to life and practical affairs is just.
  • Equanimity: that puts you in a state of composure, and you experience an ongoing blissful state of being.

These are the 6 ultimate benefits of meditation that put your body and mind in a state of health and balance.

Final Thoughts

Mediation exists to put order in your mind and awaken the best of you, to reconnect you to your goodness and your inborn intelligent capabilities.

Meditation is the window to your true Self. It gives you a panoramic view of your heart’s greatness. It shows you the true meaning of love, freeing you from the dungeons of ignorance and despair. The power of meditation dismantles the evil that’s trying to cloud the beauty of your heart.

Your heart, body, and soul are the bridge over which the challenges of life frequently carry their heavy load. Meditation is the support of that bridge. Make use of that support.

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Featured photo credit: Mor Shani via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Medline Plus: Changes in the newborn at birth

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