This post guides you through a short sequence of yoga poses you can practice at home to get some relief from a tight piriformis muscle. The piriformis is positioned deep in the buttock region. It sits underneath the gluteus maximus and attaches to the greater trochanter (the protuberance at the top of the femur bone) and sacrum. One of the main roles of the piriformis is to externally rotate the thigh bone. It also helps to stabilise the femur in the hip socket. The sciatic nerve runs underneath this muscle.

Tightness in the piriformis can result in hip pain and stiffness. Piriformis syndrome is an ailment that can arise from the piriformis muscle impinging on the sciatic nerve. This can cause sciatica symptoms such as localised pain in the buttock, or sensations of tingling or numbness that radiate down the leg. Stretching and releasing the piriformus can be therapeutic for people with this condition.

A number of yoga poses target the pirifromis muscle. This post groups together four key poses that can be easily practiced at home, with minimal equipment in just a few minutes. It is a companion to the full online video class that focusses on a more extensive yoga sequence for this condition. You can find Yoga For The Piriformis – Weekly Advanced Class 173 by clicking here. All the poses below can be practiced on both sides and repeated according to the time you have available.

 

piriformis release

Pose 1 – Eka Pada Rajakapotasana One

Basic Points

  • From dog pose, place your right knee where your right hand has been (move your hand out the way)
  • Your knee should be a little bit out to the side (not directly in front of your hip)
  • Your front shin bone is angled 45 degrees to the edge of the mat
  • Lean forwards and place your forearms on the floor in front of you
  • Allow your bent leg hip to descend without your straight leg hip lifting up

Key Actions

  • Turn the hip of the back leg forwards and draw the hip of the front leg backwards

 

piriformis stretch

Pose 2 – Supta Padangusthasana Four Variation

Basic Points

  • Place the right outer ankle over the centre line of the left thigh, towards the knee
  • Interlock your fingers around your left shin bone
  • Bending your elbows, pull your right ankle towards your face
  • Resist the right knee away from your chest
  • Use your abdominal strength to lift your head off the floor

Key Actions

  • Move your right outer hip away from your torso
  • Contain your right hip socket towards your left hip socket

 

upright piriformis stretch

Pose 3 – Upright Eka Pada Rajakapotasana Variation

Basic Points

  • Find an appropriate amount of height according to how flexible you are in your hips
  • Ensure that your raised knee is supported
  • Check that your knee is a little bit wider than your hip (as if you are sitting cross legged)
  • Keep your right outer hip down so that your hips are level
  • Place your finger tips to the wall at shoulder height

Key Actions

  • You may remain upright for the remainder of the pose
  • To go further, slide your hands up the wall and bring your forehead towards the wall

 

seated piriformis stretch

Pose 4 – Seated Eka Pada Rajakapotasana Variation

Basic Points

  • Sit on the chair so that just the buttock region is on the seat
  • The toes of the foot on the floor should be about half a foot from the wall
  • Place the left outer ankle to the centre of the right thigh

Key Actions

  • Lengthen the left heal away from the calf
  • Left outer ankle moves towards the inner ankle
  • Lengthen from the left inner ankle to the inner heel

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