I’m not sure why your physician spooked you so much.
Hey, I’ve done a sizeable amount of research on sciatica secondary to bulging discs.
Young, healthy and in chronic pain

I think he spooked me because he said that the nerve pain is most likely due to calcium buildup in one of the channels off the main spine, a narrow area where the potential for nicking the nerve during surgery is high enough to make surgery a last resort. It is possible I’ve aggravated my sciatica by doing yoga poses; I’m hypermobile, and I’ve twisted myself into some rather pretzel-ish positions. I probably would benefit from a better diet too, although I’m at a normal BMI, not overweight at all. In fact, I was rather athletic until my low back pain and sciatica started to assert itself. I had to quit weightlifting, and also aerobic workouts that require repetitive bending, as that in itself (even without weights) became intensely painful.

Right now, I’m limited to mild yoga with very little twisting and swimming laps and using water weights. Even walking hurts after a certain hour of the day. It’s depressing, but I intend to consult a neurologist and get a second opinion on the horror that is my MRI results. As for not sitting or driving, it’s hard to get along without doing those, at least some of the time. But I do take your point. I think this summer is going to be a time of re-assessment. Thanks for all the suggestions!