As stated by Danielle Olson, the psoas major muscle is the “muscle of the soul”. Located near the hip bone, this core-stabilizing muscle affects flexibility, joint function, structural balance, and mobility. Apart from helping the keep the body upright and moving, this muscle also helps connect with the present moment, particularly when it is stretched out.
It has been scientifically found that the psoas is of utmost importance for both structural and psychological wellbeing. According to Liz Koch, the author of The Psoas Book, psoas “literally embodies our deepest urge for survival, and more profoundly, our elemental desire to flourish.” Therefore, this muscle is much more than a structural element. It is very likely that healthy psoas improves mental health, too.
Where is The Psoas?
The psoas is the principal muscle associated with physical stability. It stretches from the legs to the spine and is the only muscle connecting the legs to the spinal column. The muscle flares out from the T12 vertebrae, follows down the five lumbar vertebrae, before attaching to the top of the thigh bone.
The Reptilian Connection
In addition to connecting the legs and spine, the psoas is connected to the diaphragm. Breathing is modulated at the diaphragm, and it is also the location where many physical symptoms associated with fear and anxiety manifest. Koch believes that this is due to the direct link between the psoas and the most ancient part of our brain stem and spinal cord, called the reptilian brain.
According to Koch, “Long before the spoken word or the organizing capacity of the cortex developed, the reptilian brain, known for its survival instincts, maintained our essential core functioning.” The way we live today, constantly rushing, competing and achieving, has the psoas in a constant “fight or flight” state.
Issues Associated with Chronic Psoas Stress
he psoas muscles are stressed and compressed most of the time, and regarding this matter Koch claims: “this situation is exacerbated by many things in our modern lifestyle, from car seats to constrictive clothing, from chairs to shoes that distort our posture, curtail our natural movements and further constrict our psoas.”
Since everything is connected within the body, this chronic stress in the psoas can lead to plenty health concerns like dysfunctional breathing, digestive issues, and as well as back, hip or knee pain. Most probably is the cause of chronic physical pain as well.
Moreover, chronically- stressed psoas poses threat to the mental well-being of the person. Aside for being the muscle used for structural stability, it likewise influence the way we feel, how we look at the world and how we treat others.
Even though it seems unreal, but chronically- stressed psoas muscle is linked to many issues, for instance it can influence problems: it can influence your interpersonal relationship, your satisfaction with life, and as well as negatively affect your emotional state. For that reason, you need to maintain it healthy if you want to preserve both physical and emotional health.
Liz Koch claims: “Whether you suffer from sore back or anxiety, from knee strain or exhaustion, there’s a good chance that a constricted psoas might be contributing to your woes.”
In people with a constricted psoas, fear can be over-represented and leads to physical and emotional tension. This tension can be released by restoring the balance to the psoas muscle, and this will lead to enhanced physical and mental wellbeing.
By releasing the tension in the psoas, you will balance the pranic energy and thus help the proper distribution of vital energy.
Yet, this is not a new knowledge, as yoga shows that ancient gurus were aware of the importance of releasing contracted psoas muscles.
Ancient yoga postures, which are now practiced worldwide, focus on releasing psoas muscles and restoring balance to the body. With a little practice, you can learn how to isolate this practice and thus gain numerous benefits in the long run.
Yoga also helps measure the current health of the psoas. For instance, the tree posture cannot be achieved in case of contracted psoas. If you feel a little strain in the knees or lower back while practicing standing or sitting yoga pose, it is very likely that your psoas is constricted.
Neglecting this muscle results in physical and mental tension, manifested by anxiety, depression, respiratory problems, digestive issues, and chronic back, knee, or joint pain.