Headstand & Sciatica


Does anyone know if the headstand pose, using a prop, can aggravate sciatica? Thanks.

Hello Susan, the headstand is not a general aggravator of sciatica, especially the piriformis-related sciatica that you’ve shared as your issue in another thread. You haven’t mention the prop that you would be using, or how you would be using it, so please know that this may have an affect on your body in the pose, or coming in and out of the pose.

All the best,

Hi, Nichole:

Thank you for your reply. What a wonderful forum!

Yes, I am still struggling with my sciatica most likely aggravated by a knee injury I had a month ago. I am getting my MRI results today with an ortho doc. I purchased, just before my knee injury, a headstand prop (support) by Giam. Since I am beginning with it, I am only in the headstand about 30 seconds at most and am very careful coming out of it. Once I hopefully get this knee issue resolved my sciatica will settle down. In the meantime I sure don’t want to do anything that would flare it up. That is why I wondered if using the headstand prop would do that. Also, maybe 30 seconds is too long for a beginner in the headstand pose. It doesn’t seem like it to me. I love yoga and do not want to give it up. I plan on working with a yoga therapist who has had Mr. Stiles training.

Once again I thank you for your time and response.


Hello Susan,

I presume it’s the inversion bench that you’ve acquired?

As my esteemed colleague points out, sciatica is not contraindicated with head stand (Sirsasana). However, anything can aggravate sciatica if in your body it aggravates your sciatica :slight_smile: It is possible, of course, that your entry/exit is aggravating the pose or that you are doing an action in the pose which is not inherently appropriate (contracting the glutes, for example).

Relative to your knee, remember that in yoga we must hold opposing concepts at the same time in order to stretch the sutures of the cranial bones. In this case, the sciatica may be acting on the knee rather than the knee acting on the sciatica.

For a beginner in this pose it is more germane to develop the appropriate actions (there’s that phrase again) though going up in the bench would not raise such concerns. However the bench will not help in developing the appropriate actions. It will simply allow you to be inverted. If you can stay for three breaths (smooth) then do so. If you are pregnant or trying to conceive do not use this device for inversions.


Susan, you are welcome and I agree, this is a wonderful forum. It was originally created by one of Mukunda’s student to share his work and to create community for his Yoga therapy students.

I can see no reason why the Gaiam prop would create an issue for your sciatica. Continue to use care to protect your injured knee as you go in and out of the posture, and you should be fine.

With regards to how long a beginner should be in headstand, rather than recommend an increment of time, I ask that my own Yoga therapy clients use other cues to determine how long to stay in an asana and more specifically, to know when an asana is complete for you. Patanjali shares with us in Sutra II:46 [I]Yoga pose is a steady and comfortable position.[/I] The invitation is to feel yourself in a pose that is steady, sweet and comfortable, to come out if when it shifts into unsteadiness and lacks sweetness and comfort. Our earliest signs of this shift happen in the [I]pranamaya kosha[/I]; your breath will be less full and easy, your inhalations and exhalations shorten and there is a shift in your pranic energy. This shift in energy is throughout the [I]prana vayus[/I], but it is felt most in the area of the throat, the[I] udana vayu[/I]. The [I]udana vayu[/I] governs the throat; and how it relates to us while we are in a posture is something that each of us can feel, and that is the action of swallowing. The easy ability to swallow, along with our breath are actions to watch—become familiar with your level of effort. Notice when they are full and easy and notice when they shift. Determine the length of your posture to these cues.

I see you using care around what you are bringing into your practice, and perhaps you have already started, so as a reminder be sure to stay well hydrated to condition the cells of the sciatic nerves. Proper hydration is important for all of the tissues of the body, but it is often overlooked as means to condition our nervous system and to lessen nerve pain. Oiling the body will also condition the tissues and calm that elevated and displaced [I]vata[/I] that results in our experience of pain.

And please know, there is no reason to give up ones Yoga practice, a practice is always available to each and everyone of us when we adapt to the individual. Lucky for us, our adaptations are where we get to experience all the grace and beauty that is Yoga, and where we get to experience ourselves just as we are. Where else in our daily lives do we have the experience of something that is custom created for us based on bodies, our breath, our mind, our spirits?

To share more about myself with you, I have been a student of Mukunda Stiles for over 8 years, and a student of therapeutic Yoga and Ayurveda for 13 years. I am certified by Mukunda as a Structural Yoga Therapy and have been encouraged by him to offer Ayurvedic Yoga Therapy. I also hold a premedical degree in integrative physiology. Myself, and my Yoga therapy practice, are located in Boulder, CO. If you would like, you may contact me through my signature at the bottom of this post and we could discuss your specific goals and intentions for Yoga therapy. I would be glad to schedule a session with based in this.



Once again, thank you for your detailed and informative reply. I do so appreciate all the feedback and support. I live in Colo. Spgs. and had already contacted a yoga therapist in town who might be able to help me. If that does not work out, I will certainly contact you at your e-mail address.


Hi I actually have satica pain
I did a hand stand for a short time just once real quick then I held it for like count to 5 and then stopped it actually changed something in my body cause after like ten minutes or so my pain stopped so I’m not sure but it helped me if the pain comes back I’m doing it again