Oftentimes I get asked by students if they have such and such condition, should they avoid certain poses. There is no cut and dry answer.
Numbness, tingling, and pain (sharp, dull, throbbing, etc.) are indicators to stop. Always. These are sensations that the nervous system is sending that something is not right in your body. Continuing to do whatever is causing the sensations over time can cause more damage.
Yoga is a phenomenal tool to help with pain and dysfunction. On the same hand, it can also worsen conditions if we push through and ignore what our body is telling us. We have a long history in our society to push through, do more, get things done, ignore our full bladder, work through lunch, etc. that we have literally learned to disconnect from our bodies innate wisdom.
My first and most important goal as a teacher is to help people (especially women) learn how to be kinder and gentler to themselves. Learn to hear your body speak to you and honor what it is saying. This is crucial to self awareness – and really, that is why we practice yoga.
As far as avoiding any poses or doing more of certain poses – the answer is it depends. For example: not all sciatica has the same cause or sypmtomology. It can be caused by bulging disc, piriformis syndrome, pelvic misalignment, congenital development, etc. If a pose causes sensations of numbness, tingling, or pain don’t do it. You can always modify. If down dog, for example, causes any of the aforementioned sensations, modify with a chair, at the wall, on forearms, in table top, etc.
You may have some days down dog feels great, you may have days your body says, “Hey you this isn’t happening.” Great. Your life isn’t going to be any better or worse if you are able to do down dog or not. The important thing to remember in all of this is to honor where you are.
We have all had different experiences in our lives. Different injuries, traumas, dramas, and sometimes just built different from each other. So while yoga can be for everyone, not all yoga is one size fits all. Create a practice that fits you rather than you trying to fit the practice.
Same goes for finding a teacher. Not all yoga teachers are the right fit for you. I encourage my students to try many teachers and many styles. Sometimes when dealing with injuries, a private yoga teacher may be helpful in helping you to know what is and isn’t right for you. (That’s me 😉 )
The key take away is learn to honor YOU.