When treating sciatica, yoga can be very effective, but how effective will depend on exactly what is causing the sciatica. Yoga can also help determine what is causing your sciatica. There is very little risk of complications or injury with the practice of yoga.
"many different schools of yoga"
The practice of yoga dates back over 5000 years and practitioners use a combination of exercise, breathing, and meditation to control pain and improve health.
There are many different schools of yoga using different combinations of these three concepts.
Some practitioners will also recommend acupressure or acupuncture to be used in conjunction with yoga exercises.
The impact that yoga will have on sciatica will vary from person to person, depending on what is causing their sciatica.
"caused by irritation of the sciatic nerve"
The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body and it is formed by nerve roots after they exit the lumbar spine. The sciatic nerve leaves the posterior pelvis and runs through the buttock into the thigh. In the lower thigh it divides into the smaller nerves that innervate the lower leg and foot.
Sciatica is caused by irritation of the sciatic nerve or the nerve roots that make up the sciatic nerve. This irritation is generally caused by pressure, most commonly in the lumbar spine, or where the sciatic nerve passes through the muscles of the hip.
"sciatica yoga can often be used to relieve or otherwise manage the symptoms"
Common causes of sciatica are lumbar spinal stenosis, disc herniations, and piriformis syndrome. When these conditions cause pressure on nerves leading to sciatica, yoga can often be used to relieve or otherwise manage the symptoms of sciatica and back pain.
Spinal stenosis puts pressure on the nerves of the lumbar spine because arthritic joints and overgrown ligaments take up the space for the nerves. While yoga stretching exercises can stretch the overgrown ligaments, making more room for the nerves, the stretches are not likely to have a significant effect on the arthritic joints.
"useful for controlling pain"
When it is these joints that are causing your sciatica and back pain, yoga can be useful for the breathing and meditation exercises, which are very useful for controlling pain.
If disc herniations are causing your sciatica, yoga stretches may effectively rehabilitate the disc, while breathing exercises and meditation make the pain more tolerable.
If you're suffering from piriformis syndrome or piriformis sciatica, piriformis stretches are useful for stretching the piriformis muscle to relieve pressure on the sciatic nerve, while strengthening exercises strengthening the piriformis muscle to prevent recurrences.
"physical movements and poses combined with breathing techniques"
There are many different yoga disciplines, perhaps the most well known is Hatha yoga, which focuses on physical movements and poses combined with breathing techniques and less emphasis on meditation.
Another popular discipline is Raja yoga which combines exercises with breathing methods and meditation.
"will focus on God as part of the meditation practices"
Yoga itself is not a religion, and it is not affiliated with any specific religion, but many yoga styles will focus on God as part of the meditation practices.
Yoga exercises and postures are generally not recommended for children under 16 years of age or women during pregnancy. But, yoga breathing techniques and meditation can both be useful for helping children relax and pregnant women manage the experience of childbirth.
"useful for treating a bulging or herniated disc"
For the treatment of sciatica, exercises or poses that stretch the back, the buttocks, and the hips would be most useful. Positions that arch or hyper extend the lumbar spine may be useful for treating a bulging or herniated disc.
Strengthening exercises can relieve sciatica by improving your posture and endurance along with promoting your general health and well being. Breathing techniques and meditation practices can be very effective pain management tools.
When treating sciatica, yoga practices can be very relaxing and effective with little risk of injury or complications.