Yoga is one of the six traditional philosophical schools that originate from India. Yogic postures form a part of this philosophical system for purification of the mind, body and spirit. Terming yoga as only an exercise regimen is a misnomer. It focuses equally on the body and the mind - a stress-free state of mind and a physically fit body is intended to achieve the ultimate goal of a blissful union with the Unknown.
Yoga has five major branches and what we know as yoga is actually just one branch of yoga that focuses on the physical and the vital energy aspect via postures and breathing exercises. Yogic postures are well-defined and different postures work upon different body parts and organs. Some of them are specifically meant for sciatic pain.
Sciatica is a symptom that arises due to a compression of the sciatic nerve. The compression can be caused by various conditions like aging, degeneration or an injury. Sciatica, the longest nerve in the human body can suffer compression at its five roots that exit from the lower back or along its route down to the legs via the buttocks.
Yogic postures meant for sciatica have three major categories:
- Standard poses (Performed while standing, some of which need extra strength and focus for balancing the body)
- Inversions (Head stand and shoulder stand)
- Sitting postures
Almost all yogic postures are accompanied by breathing instructions; inhaling and exhaling at the right time is critical. It is not the subject matter of this article to list all the postures and how to achieve them. Suffice it to say that almost all the yogic postures attempt to provide relief from sciatica by:
- Stretching and massaging the back and hips
- Strengthening abdominal muscles and massaging abdominal organs
- Providing healthy elasticity to arms, legs, lower and upper back
- Massaging the sacrum and hips
- Stretching hamstrings, thighs, the piriformis muscles and hip flexors
- Improving the circulation of blood
- Making the spine more pliant and flexible
- Improving postural faults
The major causes behind sciatica are disc-related conditions. Some of the non-disc related conditions like a pinched nerve can also occur due to strangulation by the piriformis muscle. The pain caused by either of the conditions can lead to excruciating sciatica pain. Yoga can greatly influence all these factors and much more.
While performing yogic postures, the emphasis is on the body’s level of tolerance. This is important for sciatica patients as well as normal individuals who want to benefit from the therapy to avoid sciatica. Initially, yoga appears to be a difficult therapy but persistence normally helps in achieving the ultimate goal. All yoga instructors stress on this factor, and they can gradually guide you to attaining the prefect posture for the recommended period of time.
Yoga as a holistic sciatica alternative remedy is a useful therapy for prevention and for managing sciatica pain. Regular yoga helps, not only in avoiding sciatic nerve treatment but also helps in relieving tensions of daily life. Stress is a major factor behind many diseases. The physical is only one part of yoga. It places equal emphasis on mental health and achieving inner peace.