Updated: Feb 26, 2019
After spending Christmas back with my lovely family, I created some lower back problems. Looking at this and feeling very strongly that this was not just physical, but a lot of emotional release, I decided to go deep into a healing practice. Meditating on my emotions, without judgment. Creating a beautiful women’s circle during New Moon, to let go of the old and embrace the new. Slowly and gently releasing the body, not expecting too much of it, but instead threating it with love & kindness. Following this path, new doors opened, old ones closed. Within my Asana practice the beautiful door opened of the Psoas muscle, which the Taoist call the Muscle of the Soul.
The Psoas muscle (pronounced so-as) is the deepest muscle of the human body affecting our structural balance, muscular integrity, flexibility, and strength, range of motion, joint mobility, and organ functioning.
Growing out of both sides of the spine, the psoas spans laterally from the 12th thoracic vertebrae (T12) to each of the 5 lumbar vertebrae. From there it flows down through the abdominal core, the pelvis, to attach to the top of the femur (thigh) bone.
Along with improving your structural stability, developing awareness of your psoas can bring to light fears long locked in the body as unconscious physical tension. Intimately involved in the fight or flight response, the psoas can curl you into a protective fetal ball or flex you to prepare the powerful back and leg muscles to spring into action. Because the psoas is so intimately involved in such basic physical and emotional reactions, a chronically tightened psoas continually signals your body that you're in danger, eventually exhausting the adrenal glands and depleting the immune system. As you learn to approach the world without this chronic tension, psoas awareness can open the door to a more sensitive attunement to your body's inner signals about safety and danger, and to a greater sense of inner peace.
If we constantly contract the psoas to due to stress or tension, the muscle eventually begins to shorten leading to a host of painful conditions including low back pain, sacroiliac pain, sciatica, disc problems, scoliosis, hip degeneration, knee pain, menstruation pain, infertility, and digestive problems.
A relaxed psoas is the mark of play and creative expression. Instead of the contracted psoas, ready to run or fight, the relaxed and released psoas is ready instead to lengthen and open, to dance. In many yoga poses (like tree) the thighs can’t fully rotate outward unless the psoas releases. A released psoas allows the front of the thighs to lengthen and the leg to move independently from the pelvis, enhancing and deepening the lift of the entire torso and heart. Emotionally, the psoas release can also assist with easing the emotional restraints still present from deep-seated fears and trauma.
A healthy psoas, can rekindle our body’s vital energies by learning to reconnect with the life force of the universe. A flexible and strong psoas grounds us and allows subtle energies to flow through the bones, muscles and joints.
On a physical level asana’s like Anjaneya asana & Crescent pose are great for releasing the psoas. On a mental level just bringing loving awareness into this Muscle of the Soul can release it, closing the old & opening the new.
Namaste, love & light,