SCIATICA – Yogic Prevention and Cure
Sciatica is not technically a disease or ailment. Rather it is a categorization of symptoms associated mostly with spinal disc herniation. Compression or pinching of the sacral nerve running down the leg, causes excruciating or numbing pain in the legs, and this is the primary sciatic symptom in most cases. Alleviation of sciatic symptoms is not possible, in most cases, without the herniated discs healing from within.
If the sciatica is severe, it will lead to gradual loss of bladder and/ or bowel control. By this stage, surgery is advised. Sciatica which has not yet progressed to this severe stage, can be counteracted, managed and healed using yogic methodologies.
Samkhya Yoga View:
From the Yogic perspective, sciatica is caused due to the imbalance of the Earth and Water elements. Rigidity in the character and mindset, lack of empathy and inability to adjust to changing or undesirable circumstances are psychological warning signs of the imbalance of Earth and Water. Not corrected, it will lead to physiological symptoms, namely sciatica.
Yogic Lifestyle advice:
Those suffering from sciatica are advised to correct their posture and be aware of their postures at all times. Do not lift any weight from the ground without bending the knees. Men suffering from sciatica should not carry wallets in the backpocket, as this compresses the sacral nerve while sitting. Postures of seating other than in chairs should be practiced and Chikitsa Yoga/ Yoga Therapy asana sequences which particularly deal with the specific kind of sciatica should be learned under the guidance of a trained Yoga therapist. Asanas should be practiced in 3 levels of increasing difficulty until sciatica symptoms are completely overcome.
Asanas for disease reduction:
The Yogic techniques always start with the physical, in order to bring a state of homeostasis, which leads to symptom reduction. The following are a small selection of simple asanas that will begin the process of recovery from Sciatica.
VRKSASANA – Tree Pose
- Stand straight with feet together and knees straight in Tadasana
- Bend the right knee and place the right heel close to the perinium, right foot resting on the right thigh
- Raise the arms straight over your head and join your palms together, hold this pose breathing deeply for 20-30secs
- Lower the arms down releasing the palms, bring the right foot down straightening the right knee
- Repeat the pose by bending the left knee
ADHO MUKHA SVANASANA – Downward Facing Dog
- Lying face down on the floor, rest the palms down on the floor, the palms in line with the shoulders.
- Raise the trunk off the floor and straighten the arms tucking the belly in. Keep a distance of one foot between your feet.
- Feel the stretch in your hamstrings, keeping the knees and elbows straight. The head loosely resting between your upper arms without any tension.
- Stay in this pose for about 45secs while breathing deeply. Then slowly drop your trunk down on the floor and relax.
DHANURASANA – Bow Pose
- Lie on your stomach, face downwards
- Bend the knees and the grab both the ankles from the outside
- Now, raise the chin, chest and finally the knees off the floor. Lift your head-off and pull back as far as you can pulling the ankles with your palms
- Keep the legs separate while maintaining the weight on your abdomen
- Exhaling, release the ankles, stretch your legs straight and relax
PASCHIMOTTANASANA – Queen Pose
- Sitting on your hips, stretch your knees and place your palms next to your hips
- Extend your arms and grab both the toes with your fingers and thumb
- Bend down from the pelvic region of the back, maintaining a concave back
- Relax your shoulders and try to get your forehead between the knees, if you can’t get the forehead completely down, gaze at the toes
- Gradually rest your elbows on the mat and stay in this pose for 2-3 minutes
- Inhale, raise the head from the knees and relax
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