On the journey of trauma release it is very helpful to explore Yoga postures that stretch (and strengthen) our psoas muscle. In Taoism the psoas is referred to as ‘the muscle of the soul’.
Liz Koch, a progressive body therapist, whom has done extensive research on the psoas, sees the psoas as the primal messenger of the central nervous system. She believes the psoas is more than just a muscle, it is intimately connected to our Autonomic Nervous System and our survival instinct, connected to our fight or flight response.
The daily stress of our go-go-go modern life-style causes most of our psoas muscles to be chronically contracted and weak. It is important, not only for our physical well-being, but also for our emotional health to relax (and empower) our psoas.
Liz Koch explains that a juicy, supple psoas is very important for a pain free lower back and the healthy functioning of our organs. The dynamic interplay between the psoas and the diaphragm also affects the ease of our breathing. The psoas is our main movement muscle and the only muscle that connects the upper and lower body.
It attaches to the front of all the lower back vertebra, runs through the deep core of our body on both sides of our lower spine, to the inside of the hip bones and outsides of the pubic bone, down the inner thighs and attaches to the thigh bone. See image from ‘Functional Anatomy of Yoga’ by David Keil. Through deep inner exploration we tune into the beautiful mystery of this profound bio-intelligent tissue.
Yoga postures to stretch the psoas muscle include anjaneyasana (low crescent lunge) – especially with a side bend over to the side of the front leg, virabhadrasana 1 – especially the high lunge version, supta virasana, bhekasana, crescent lunge with bhekasana back leg, dhanurasana, setu bhanda sarvangasana – especially passive with sacrum rested on a block.
Yoga postures to strengthen the psoas muscle include navasana, ardha navasana, shalabhasana, bakasana utthita hasta padangusthasana – with leg forward and hands on hips.