When sciatica pain strikes, it can be tempting to stay sedentary out of fear that you might make the flare-up worse. Yet moving your body slowly and gently can be one of the best ways to ease your symptoms, says yoga teacher Jamie Elmer.

Just check in with a doctor before hitting your yoga mat: “Before you do just any stretch or yoga pose, it helps to have a sense of what’s causing your sciatica pain,” advises Elmer. 

Typically, sciatica symptoms can be traced back to two different reasons, she says. One of the most common causes is Piriformis Syndrome, which happens when the piriformis—a small muscle deep in your hips that externally rotates (turns out) your thighs—becomes tight and compresses the sciatic nerve, leading to a pain in your butt—literally. The other main cause of sciatica is compression in the spine, usually between the L4 and L5 vertebrae (the lowest two vertebrae in your lumbar spine, or lower back), that can lead to the disc between those vertebrae bulging (or herniating) and compressing the sciatic nerve.

“If your issues stem from Piriformis Syndrome, exercises that stretch the piriformis and encourage an internal rotation of your thighs can take some of the “tightness” out of the piriformis and lessen your pain,” says Elmer. “If it’s a disc issue, stretching the hip flexors and iliopsoas muscle—another deep hip flexor—can relieve some of the burning pain and numbness you might be feeling on one side of your butt and down the back of your leg.”

Here, Elmer offers six simple yoga poses that can help ease your sciatica pain, depending on the cause of your symptoms:

If your sciatica symptoms stem from a tight piriformis (read: you literally feel a pain in your butt), try:

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