How to Stretch Your Sciatic Nerve

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Using yoga postures to stretch your sciatic nerve, the large nerve fiber that begins in your lower back and runs through your buttocks and down the lower limbs, can help relieve tension and expand your range of motion. Practice these sciatic nerve stretches with guidance from a yoga instructor in this free video on yoga exercises.

Part of the Video Series: Yoga Techniques
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Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Kristin Cooper, Director of the Wilmington Yoga Center, and today I'd like to share with you a couple of techniques that can help you to release the muscles around your sciatic nerve. For this, you'll need a yoga mat, a yoga block and a window sill or a table. This is really helpful if you're experiencing sciatica. In our culture, we have a lot of tightness in our hips because we spend a lot of time sitting. We often sit at breakfast and we sit in our cars, and we sit at work and then we sit at dinner and then we sit in front of television. So, these can really help to open the external rotators, especially the piriformis, which is the muscle that applies direct pressure on the sciatic nerve, if the fibers are very short. So, the first action that we're going to demonstrate is a variation of a posture called kapotasana, or pigeon. And I'd like to show you a variation that you can do at a window sill. Or, you could also try this with a table in your home if you're not able to get on the floor. So, the first thing that you'll do is you're going to come up to the window sill and jut bring one foot to the window sill. And you might start here with your knee out to the side and that's okay. And you jut want to try to start to bring your weight forward so that you're opening this guy. And the piriformis runs from the sacrum to the top of the femur. So, it's kind of this diagonal. So, we're here. If you can go a little deeper, you'll bring the foot across and maybe bring that knee a little further forward. Make sure there's no pressure in your knee. And then again, just hang out here for a few breaths, and you should feel some relief. And then, if you can come on to the floor, we're going to work here starting in a table top position. I'm jut going to bring my left knee forward and I have this block here to support my weight from this hip in case I can't bring this hip down. This keeps me from distributing that weight into the knee. So, I'm going to lower down on to my block and walk my back foot away, and kind of settle in so that the pelvis feels neutral. If you feel like you're rocking over to the left side, you want to try to bring that right hip forward, again, stabilizing, you can hang out right here. If you wanted to go a little deeper, come down to your elbows. If you don't need the block, and you're pretty open through that hip, you might be able roll it all the way down and then come forward. Take a few breaths. You should feel very rubby, and then you can kind of rock over to that one side to release. You can also do this in your bed. You can do it in the morning or at night, anytime that you're feeling any tension in this area. So, again, this is how to help relieve the external rotators around that sciatic nerve. Enjoy.

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