Have you ever heard of the psoas muscle? This lesser known muscle has a strong effect on organ functioning, strength, structural balance, and flexibility as well as energy levels, emotional state and overall health. As a matter of fact, this muscle affects everything from back pain and anxiety to pleasure and orgasms.
According to Liz Koch, a yoga therapist, the psoas strongly affects our emotional well-being and physical vitality. As she explains, psoas is a bio-intelligent tissue which encompasses our urge for survival and desire to prosper. It is an emotional muscle which communicates the gut feelings. When contracted, both physically and emotionally conditions can arise.
The “Muscle of the Soul”
The psoas is a core-stabilizing muscle which stretches from the legs to the spine and connects the legs to the spinal column. When it functions properly, it acts as bridge between the trunk and the legs.
“In walking, a healthy psoas moves freely and joins with a released diaphragm to continuously massage the spine as well as the organs, blood vessels, and nerves of the trunk. Working as a hydraulic pump, a freely moving psoas stimulates the flow of fluids throughout the body.”
The psoas is also connected to the diaphragm, which regulates breathing and may affect feelings of anxiety and fear. It is connected to the amygdala as well, the brain area responsible for fight or flight response.
As our modern lifestyle triggers a state of fight or flight on a regular basis, the psoas is in an ongoing state of contraction. Consequently, the muscle shortens and leads to disc problems, hip degeneration, menstruation pain, digestive problems, infertility, sciatica, scoliosis, low back pain, and knee pain. It is worth noting that watching TV, driving in cars, and following a sedentary lifestyle is general has a disastrous effect upon the psoas.
On the flip side, maintaining a healthy psoas helps revive our essential energies by learning to establish a connection with the life force of the universe.
“The psoas, by conducting energy, grounds us to the earth, just as a grounding wire prevents shocks and eliminates static on a radio. Freed and grounded, the spine can awaken.
“As gravitational flows transfer weight through bones, tissue, and muscle, into the earth, the earth rebounds, flowing back up the legs and spine, energizing, coordinating and animating posture, movement and expression. It is an uninterrupted conversation between self, earth, and cosmos,” says Koch.
She also adds that when we start living a calm life without chronic tension, the psoas naturally relaxes and creates a sense of inner peace.
Just “Be” with Your Psoas
There are a couple of yoga poses which are known to promote flexibility of the psoas and release emotional blockages within. Some of the best include pigeon, fish, cobra, camel, bridge, and crescent lunge.
Koch also recommends a pose called “Constructive Rest” designed to relax and lengthen the psoas muscle. As you rely on the floor for support while holding it, it allows the spine to regain its natural shape. It also releases stress and tension held by both the mind and the body. Hold the pose for 10-20 minutes daily, preferably before dinner.
“Begin by resting on your back. Knees bent and feet placed parallel to each other, the width apart of the front of your hip sockets. Place your heels approximately 12-16 inches away from your buttocks. Keep the trunk and head parallel with the floor. If not parallel place a folded, flat towel under your head. Do not push your lower back to the floor or tuck your pelvis under in an attempt to flatten the spine. For best results keep the arms below the shoulder height letting them rest over the ribcage, to the sides of your body or on your belly. There is nothing to do; constructive rest is a being position.”