Back in 1999/early 2000, shooting, burning pains down my left leg were diagnosed as piriformis syndrome. That was ultimately a good thing, first of all because it wasn’t sciatica, and second because it started me on the journey to rebalancing my body and learning more about the anatomical structures beneath the surface.

As with any muscle that has an imbalance, I found it important to stretch and strengthen—stretching the overtight left side and strengthening the right side—to bring my sacrum back into balance. Back in 2000, foam rollers were not the ubiquitous presence they are today and Yoga Tune Up® Therapy Balls still remained to be invented. Now I use the Therapy Balls to keep my piriformis healthy and supple (either rolling out one side at a time at the wall, or rolling out on the floor either with one ball or two). The new YTU® Alpha Ball is a particular joy to use, as the larger diameter and surface area help to distribute the lines of force over what feels like the whole muscle surface, hiding there underneath the gluteus maximus.

Since starting on my hip health program to keep the piriformis and other lateral hip rotators juicy and happy, I’ve found the following poses particularly beneficial to both strengthen and stretch this significant hip mover: abductor lifts/adductor slides, the Gomukhasana variation (with shins approximately at right angles to the thigh bones), and reclined Leg Stretch #3 (which you can see in the video clip below).

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Dawn Adams

Dawn has been practicing yoga since the mid-1990s. She took her first class at the Alameda Yoga Station in 1996 and has since studied under experienced teachers such as Sandy Blaine, JoAnn Lyons, and Donald Moyer. Dawn graduated from the Advanced Studies Program at the Yoga Room in Berkeley in 2009 and she continues to deepen her personal practice. Yoga has become an integral part of her life, especially because of its nurturing and centering aspects. Through practicing yoga, she has found that undoing is just as important as doing. In her teaching, she hopes to instill a sense of adventure and exploration of yoga, with a focus on finding balance and joy through practice. Most recently, Dawn found Yoga Tune Up and, fascinated by the functional approach to movement, completed the YTU Level 1 Certification. She is excited to share her unique approach to practice.

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Amber Bilak

Sounds like a great prescription for healthy hips.

Julie rosier

Thanks Dawn. Life before Yoga Tune Up balls was a lot more painful. Great article and great tips for keeping the piriformis and others stretched out.

Duygu (Dee) Ozkan

Thank you Dawn for sharing your experience and exercise options for piriformis! I didnt know what piriformis syndrome is before and made some search about it. It is possible for the people who walk or sit with externally rotated hips and sit all day at work can cause the piriformis muscle overused and get shortened and easily cause for piriformis syndrome as well. Moon Rises and therapy ball rolling with one hip in flexion and external rotation(thread the needle) could be helpful too.


Thank you for sharing your experience and recommendations for balancing the piriformis. I can add it to my tool box to help students and clients.

Diana Azavedo

Thanks Dawn, I love what you said about finding more balance in the body through anatomy, kinematic and biomechanics. Flexibility and strength is one thing exercising towards it is another, but taking the keen interest to understand whats really happening and how each movement affects our body is key.

Jess Blake

Thank you for your two part series on the Piriformis! I have always suspected that I had a short or tight piriformis on my left hip, and after taking the Yoga Tune Up Level 1, I think I am correct. I have started using the Yoga Tune Up Balls on my hips over the last week and can already feel a difference!

Marie-Michelle Darveau

Happy juicy muscle ! these poses are great to prevent piriformis and induced sciatica. its usefull for a lot of people

Carole Giuliani

Great article! I too suffer from Piriformis Pain and have just recently discovered that this translates down through the whole left side of my body, hopefully I too can come back into balance by continuing to use my YTU balls.


This is a fantastic article. Can hardly wait to do what you have suggested to help with my pain. It has been approximately 6 months since my Chiropractor discovered that my sacrum was going out position . I do not know what I have been doing for this to happen and I do use the balls, however not on a daily basis. I will now be more mindful of trying what you have suggested, daily and see how my body responds to it.

Thank you so much

Louise Johnson

Great tips. I’ll incorporate both these poses into my classes to prevent piriformis induced sciatica. Thanks:)

Ted Burnham

I am on a mission of hip health in this body because I have had so many problems with one of them over the last year. So much so that I had doctors and therapists telling me to consider a replacement! After attending the YTU teacher training, learning the poses and how to use the Yoga Tune Up® Therapy Balls I am moving without pain and with greater flexibility. Leg Stretch #3 was difficult for me in the beginning and now it is a pose that I use before bed in the evening. Thank you.

Tracy E.

It was helpful to read about the connection of the piriformis and the SI joint. I have struggled with SI instability and will incorporate the leg stretch #3 into my daily practice.

Ted Burnham

I used to do Gomukhasana when I was much younger but gave it up after a leg injury a few years ago. The thought of going back into it was a turn off until today when during a Yoga Tune Up class I was introduced to the variation with support. To my surprise I found that I could do it. Thank you for all the healthy information as to what it does – I look forward to adding it to my daily routine.

stephanie blazi

Great info! I definitely need to incorporate this tip into my daily routine.

Krysten Hills

Thanks for sharing. I definitely need to strengthen my piriformis!


Thanks so much for sharing, Dawn. I am just beginning my journey with YTU, and this has given me some ideas on how to work with my hips and the balls. Can’t wait to learn more and try it on myself and others!


I can so relate to this post. I wonder now with my piriformis syndrome if always sitting in external rotation is shortening this muscle and making the situation worse. I will have to investigate.

Claudia Muehlenweg

Thanks for the reminder to do leg stretch 3. I have lower back issues since over thirty years (herniated disc, sciatica and probably piriformis syndrome too), and due to my decreased mobility in my spine and hamstrings, i have been avoiding this stretch since it feels uncomfortable unless i place my leg on a block and don’t go over 60-70º angle of the leg (90º is not possible at all). When you say “Gomukhasana” version of adductor slides and abductor lifts, do you mean starting in table top with wide legged shins on the blanket (adductor slides)? And with abductor… Read more »

Kate Colette

I love the idea of any of my muscles being juicy and happy! I look forward to my sacrum being back in balance, and will make this work a part of my daily self care.