Psoas is a major muscle that plays a crucial role in both our mental and physical health. It is responsible for creating stability within our body, allowing it to open and connect, and pushes our need for survival. This muscle runs deep within our body, from the spine down through to the pelvis, making it one of the hardest to strengthen and stretch. It is the only muscle that connects the spine to the legs.
Symptoms Of A Tight Psoas Muscle
When this muscle is tight, it can actually affect your breathing. Your brain thinks that something is wrong and may activate your sympathetic nervous system, which is your fight or flight response. This result is a buildup of stress and dependency on adrenaline, which can wreak havoc on your body and mind.
This muscle can also be affected by emotions – fear, stress, anxiety or even sadness. Physical symptoms are:
- Lower back pain
- Shortness of breath
- Weight gain
Knowing which yoga poses can help you reach this muscle can have a significant impact on your overall health. Let’s take a look at some of the best ways to help release tension in this muscle.
- Crescent Lunge
Also known as the low lunge, this pose allows a stretch from the front of the hip to the bottom of the knee. It includes a back bend that opens the heart, which in turn opens the psoas muscle.
Begin in a lunge, and place your knee to the ground, with your other leg, make sure your knee is stacked over your ankle. You may rest here; but for a better stretch, lift your arms to the sky with your breath.
To deepen even further, you can reach back with your arms, or even interlace your hands behind your back. Both offer your upper torso a gentle backbend. Repeat on the other side.
- Lizard Pose
Moving straight into the Lizard Pose is a great way to further engage your spine and activate your core. Slowly walk your foot to the edge of your mat and bring both hands to the inside of your front foot. You will feel a deep pull in your hamstring as you lift your back leg off the mat for a deeper stretch.
You may then prefer to keep reaching forward with your chest or lower towards your forearms to deepen your stretch in your legs. Remain for a few moments and then switch to the other side.
- Reclined Hero’s Pose
This pose is great for lengthening the entire front of your body as it stretches your knees and the hard-to-reach psoas muscle. Begin with your sit bones on the floor and bend your legs to wrap beside you. You may stay in this position; or to go deeper, recline your upper torso back to lie down to intensify the stretch.
Make sure to keep your knees on the mat. If they lift, pull your body back up and try again. Remain in this pose for a few breaths.
- Camel Pose
The Camel Pose is a deep backbend that stretches the entire front of the body. Begin on your knees, hip-width apart, with your toes tucked under to allow your heels to face up to the sky. Placing your hands on your lower back for support, carefully bend your back and reach back to your heels.
Push your hips forward and open your chest, breathing into the pose. Hold for a few breaths. To deepen this pose, you can have the tops of your feet lying flat on the mat. Make sure to bring one arm at a time to your back to support yourself when you breathe out of the pose and return to kneeling.
- Bow Or Wheel Pose
Both of these poses offer the ability to open up our hearts and build strength throughout the muscle within the body. For the Bow, you will lie down in a reverse corpse position bending your legs up and then reach back one arm at a time to reach each of your feet around the ankles. Hold for a few breaths and release.
For the Wheel, begin with the Bridge Pose with your upper torso pushed up. Then, when you are ready, turn your hands over so that your palms are beside your ears. Push up so that your head lifts off the floor and you are pushed into all four limbs. Hold for a moment then slowly drop down to rest in the corpse.
When we learn to activate the psoas muscle, we increase the flow of energy through our body and help bring peace to our senses. As with all muscles of our bodies, this too needs to be exercised despite its difficulty to reach. Treat your psoas muscle to a workout and benefit from an overall sense of peace and calm.