The psoas is a major core muscle that doesn’t get a lot of attention – probably because it is deep below the surface. It can’t be seen and it can’t be pumped up like biceps muscles can. Relaxed and supple psoas (pronounced so-as) muscles are essential for proper digestion, breathing, reproduction, and mood.
WHERE ARE THE PSOAS MUSCLES?
The psoas muscles are attached to the spine just below the bottom ribs and they flow down on each side of the back and connect into the top of the thigh bones. The psoas connects the spine to the legs.
WHAT DOES PSOAS DO?
The psoas gets used every time you take a step. It gets tight when you sit a lot. It gets tense when we are under stress and/or in fight-or-flight mode. Psoas is involved in arching and rounding the spine, twisting, bending, sitting, walking, and getting out of bed.
The psoas is a messenger of the central nervous system and is linked to our gut reactions. A tight psoas can negatively affect digestion, reproduction, mood, confidence, and is associated with low back pain.
The psoas muscles have a special relationship with the diaphragm because of their proximity to each other in the body. Breathing and psoas health mutually affect each other. The psoas is the bridge that synchronizes the rhythm of our breathing to the rhythm of our walking.
RELAX IT INSTEAD OF WORKING IT
When the psoas is healthy, supple, and relaxed, feelings of pleasure and well-being are enhanced. If you are feeling tense in your stomach or back, it is beneficial to release the psoas muscle.
Movement, strength, and courage all originate in our core. That doesn’t mean that we should be doing 100 crunches every day trying to build abs of steel. To keep core muscles healthy we need to be able to release and relax them as well.
AN INTELLIGENT MUSCLE
Psoas is considered a sensitive and intelligent muscle and is part of the communication system of the central nervous system. It sends messages between the upper and lower body. The psoas tells us when we are centered and balanced and is integrated with our sense of courage.
THE LOW LUNGE (in the video)
Make sure you are not overstretching as that will lead to increased tension. Do not push so far into a stretch that you cannot breathe smoothly.
As you move into the lunge, try and stay relaxed and let your breathing be deep and slow. The psoas may be overused and feeling exhausted and it needs to release and heal rather than be strengthened. Let your body relax into the lunge and try and rest on your bones. If necessary, you can use props to hold yourself in the posture. Find a place where you can breathe smoothly and let your body open and release into the stretch on its own time.
This video clip is part of a full-length yoga practice called Release Your Spine which is included as part of The Self-Love Superstar Program: http://www.bountifulyogaandwellness.com/self-love-confidence-program/