Whoa, Piriformis!

Once again, I turn to the cybershala and ask you to share your pain. Looking for stories re: piriformis misery (and, hopefully, eventual recovery). I noticed pulling/pain in a baddha konasana adjustment last week, and now the right piriformis is hurting like a mofo in baddha k.

Am I supposed to stop baddha k’ing? Scream during adjustments? Accept the adjustment and cry silently on my mat?

I know to roll on a tennis ball, and figure ice & ibuprofen are in order. Any other suggestions?


And in news of other painful discoveries, Tyler loves silk. Specifically my silk robe. It has delightful sleeves that catch his attention, and a silky mouthfeel, and, of course, a nice chewy arm flesh center that elicits exciting Mom-scream sound effects.


10 Responses

  1. I would be tempted to ice regularly and to lay off the Baddha K. Piriformis? Is Upavistha still possible? Janu Sirsasana? There are ways to get in there without Baddha K. You might see if “threading the needle” (some call it Sucirandhasana but I think that’s made up) is possible, or easier.

    Good luck with the healing and the puppy fending!

  2. dzm! seems there is always something! i have a little shoulder nag that won’t go away. for pains, generally, what I do is really exaggerate the ujayi, to really extend every part of the body to maximum stretch during all practice. so, each breath is a big attempt to heal. at the same time, i wouldn’t overdo what hurts, i.e. baddha k. if you have strained some sort of insertion point they can take a while to heal. muscle tears take 3 wks or so. stay strong. this is the deal with adjustments….sometimes….well…you see. xo moni

  3. Hi Karen
    I think it’s best to be sincere. If you are in pain, you should mention it ahead of time regarding adjustment in that particular asana.
    That’s cool that you can practice in community again. And the story of Tyler is very funny.

  4. Well, I feel like I am the expert on piriformis pain in Baddha Konasana and am happy to share! I have been in excruciating pain in Baddha K since about April last year. Initially it was so sore it hurt right down to my knee until a few hours after practice. After a few months of that, it just hurt when doing BK and anything when I was standing on one leg or bending forward. These days it is still excruciatingly painful in BK, but less uncomfortable in other poses. Once it is aggravated it hurts to do anything where the hip is open – Janus and buja pidasana particularly.

    I tired the tennis ball with no results, quite a few sports massages also with no results. Many people told me it would get better over time, but a couple of weeks ago I got to the end of my tether with it. Now H is letting me do BK without forward bending, concentrating on lengthening the spine upwards and away from the side which is painful. I think I am off centre to the left and that maybe is what aggravated it in the first place. I expect H has a plan for the future, and I will have to forward bend again at some point. For now I am enjoying the respite.

    Unfortunately I haven’t got to a point where I can tell you that it has stopped hurting, but at least cutting out the forward bending is keeping the pain at bay.

    I hope your pain eases up soon.

  5. I personally believe piriformis tightness comes from sitting too much in non-optimal chairs and then walking and moving around with them tensed to compensate for tonal imbalances in other muscles.

    I also personally believe that concentrating on lengthening the spine during poses is much more important than bending as far as we can go. The stretch is nowhere near as beneficial as the energy development. The usual approach to a pose is to gather the limbs into the necessary positions, then bend into it as far as possible and hold for X breaths. I think it may be better in b. konasana to sit up absolutely as tall as possible and float the head freely atop the atlas, then bend slightly and gently forward at the hips and work the breath and spine until some pleasant tingles are felt throughout the back and legs. This requires excellent breathing — the “chi tingles” depend on it. But working the spine seems to really aid the breath and make it softly powerful. Once you get to the tingles, and you feel juiced up and freer to bend, lever forward as far as possible — but gently! and stay for a breath or two, then come back up. I think doing poses this way develops more energy than is expended and doesn’t encourage holding in the stagnation zone, which actually may retard progress and healing.

    But, obviously, you may not experience anything like the the above.

  6. Once you get to the tingles, and you feel juiced up and freer to bend, lever forward as far as possible…

    Oops. I didn’t mean “as far as is physically possible.” I meant to bend forward beyond the range wherein you can keep things tingly, but not into the range where it causes dull, dry heat.

  7. Thanks, you guys. Carl, experimenting with your suggestion is actually motivating me to do baddha konasana this morning. Is this some kind of subtle psychological game?

  8. Not much advice I can give, even though I’ve also been almost crippled by piriformis pain. Hamish and I tried several things, and the only one that seemed to make a difference in my case was squeezing the mula bandha to death. But I still get pain some Sundays. Sorry I can’t be of much help!

  9. Karen, it’s totally overt.

  10. Wow…I actually googled piriformis and mula bandha to see what I would find. I had piriformis for 3 years until I discovered that the cause was a tension or inner stress induced pain disorder. In these disorders the physical pain being experienced is caused by oxygen deprivation. Interestingly in these disorders doing the tennis ball thing, ice, special exercises/stretches and the like actually keep you in pain because they are distracting you from the real cause which is your thoughts that are creating the inner tension. You can read all about this at my site.
    Back to my google search…I’m a runner who discovered Power Yoga via Beryl Bender Birch. I found that doing the yoga practice not as a treatment for my injury but as a mindfulness practice produced incredible positve results in my body. Long story short I have been free of piriformis for 5 years now. I continue to practice power yoga but not near where I should be. I recently had a little flare up of pirifromis–nothing major but it was there. I have begun to incorporate mula bandha 10-12x per day, especially when I am driving my car or sitting at the office—These mini sessions total probably 20-30 minutes of mindful mula bandha…..There is something here that works…My thinking is it is obviously the mindful concentration that takes you out of your (worry, angry, tension inducing thought patterns) but I am trying to figure out the internal dynamic taking place by this contraction–Any thoughts here would be much appreciated.
    Also for all of you stuck in the mystery of piriformis…..if it is caused by inner stress/tension and my quess is almost all piriformis is….you must stop the physical treatments and begin to address the real cause–and that is your tension producing thoughts.

    Monte Hueftle

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