Sciatica Anna Ashby and Paulina Novak by YogaClicks


While it is sometimes possible to reduce your risk of sciatica by improving your posture and building muscle strength – which yoga can help with, once you have sciatica it can be a stressful condition to live with.

It’s usually recommended that sufferers remain active, but with any activity there is always the risk of doing more damage. Yoga can work well as a sciatica treatment because it’s a gentle way to build all-round fitness and calm the mind. The asana (physical postures) can help us work on muscle strength and alignment, while pranayama (breathing exercises) and meditation can help dissolve stress.

Finding the right teacher to help you go at your pace is essential. In more severe cases a personal yoga therapist will help you build a tailored regime that is safe for your condition. Always consult your doctor if you are unsure of how much physical exercise you should be doing.

There’s limited research in this area but clinical studies suggest yoga can bring significant improvements in pain, tenderness, rigidity, and walking ability to sciatica patients.

Also see Back pain

What the clinical studies say

  • Significant improvements in pain
  • Significant improvements in rigidity
  • Significant improvements in tenderness
  • Significant improvements in walking

The clinical studies

A preliminary clinical evaluation of external snehan and asanas in the patients of sciatica
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Mindfulness

Lower back pain radiating to either on one leg or both legs along the course of sciatic nerve is a common ailment in the clinical practice, this type of peculiar symptomatology is termed as "Sciatica" in modern medicine.

The medical treatment is unsatisfactory for both the patient and the neurosurgeons, as the surgical treatment has its own hazards and the cost of the surgical procedure and medical treatment is prohibitory to most of the Indian patients. Hence, most of the patients present themselves to the practitioners of Indian medicines like Ayurveda and yoga.

This study was designed to evaluate the preliminary clinical effects of Bahya Snehan and Asanas in the patients of sciatica. This was a prospective randomized active control trial.

A total of 60 participants showing classical symptoms of Sciatica between 18 and 65 years of age were randomly assigned to receive Ayurvedic or Yogic measure. One group received Snehan (external) with Bhujang and Shalabh Asana while another group received Bhujang and Salabh Asana only. Both groups practiced supervised intervention for 4 weeks.

The signs and symptoms like Katishool (pain), tenderness, Stambha (rigidity), difficulty in walking, pain on bending forward were graded and interpreted at the end of the trial. Significant improvement was observed in both groups before and after external Snehan with Bhujang and Shalabh Asana and in another group Bhujang and Salabh Asana only.


Both groups, one with Snehan with asanas and the second with asanas only showed significant improvement in the patients of sciatica (Gridhrasi).


A K Singh | O P Singh


International Journal of Yoga
Volume / Issue

Author's primary institution

Department of Kayachikitsa, Faculty of Ayurveda, Institute of Medical Sciences, BHU, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India
Effects of yoga interventions on pain and pain-associated disability: a meta-analysis
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Mindfulness

We searched databases for controlled clinical studies, and performed a meta-analysis on the effectiveness of yoga interventions on pain and associated disability.
Five randomized studies reported single-blinding and had a higher methodological quality; 7 studies were randomized but not blinded and had moderate quality; and 4 nonrandomized studies had low quality. In 6 studies, yoga was used to treat patients with back pain; in 2 studies to treat rheumatoid arthritis; in 2 studies to treat patients with headache/migraine; and 6 studies enrolled individuals for other indications.

All studies reported positive effects in favor of the yoga interventions. With respect to pain, a random effect meta-analysis estimated the overall treatment effect at SMD = −.74 (CI: −.97; −.52, P < .0001), and an overall treatment effect at SMD = −.79 (CI: −1.02; −.56, P < .0001) for pain-related disability.

Despite some limitations, there is evidence that yoga may be useful for several pain-associated disorders.

Moreover, there are hints that even short-term interventions might be effective. Nevertheless, large-scale further studies have to identify which patients may benefit from the respective interventions.


Arndt Büssing


The Journal of pain
Volume / Issue

13 : 1
Author's primary institution

Center for Integrative Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Witten/Herdecke, Herdecke, Germany

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