The psoas muscle, yes tribe, we are going there today.
I can remember my first few times being exposed to this term, a yoga teacher mentioning it while doing low-lunge, reading about it in an online yoga article, hearing about it from my chiropractor, and then wondering how my psoas muscle plays into everyday aches + pains, along with larger, more chronic injuries.
This wonder led me to ask questions like….
What exactly is my psoas muscle, where is it located, what is it’s purpose, why are we talking about it, and how can I strengthen + lengthen it to support optimal health and wellness. And like most content here on the blog, we’re here today out of my own selfishness, in hopes that by me learning new information and sharing it, that it can connect, relate and help your journey.
Now isn’t that a wonderful feedback loop.
So, the psoas muscle, let’s get into it as there’s quite a lot of words, thoughts, and information to discuss.
The What + Where
Our psoas muscle is the longest muscle in the body and there’s two of them on either side of us, giving us double the opportunity for it to become short + tight or weak + overstretched.
This paired muscle runs through the core of our pelvis and spine, attaching to the last of thoracic vertebra (T12), the diaphragm, all of the lumbar spine, the iliacus (our hip crest), and finally ends at the lesser trochanter (the knobby part of the femur). Essentially, it’s the only muscle that connects our torso to our legs!
To get an idea of where it’s located, click here.
The psoas muscle is not only long, but also situated very deep within, effecting how we move biomechanically, physiologically, and energetically. It can easily be overtaxed or create discomfort in the body if other muscle groups (hello abdominals) are not pulling their weight, both on and off our yoga mats, and if chronic stress is prevalent in our life.
….. think poor posture habits, not activating the core during a yoga practice, tight hip flexors (hello sitting), too much stress, and a lack of present and expansive breath.
Okay, we can envision where this long, important muscle lives, but what does it actually do?
Well, it’s a major player in the overall hip flexor system, helping to pull the thigh and torso towards one another, think actions like getting out of bed, walking, jogging, sitting, folding forward, doing yoga, along with an overwhelming amount of other daily movements.
It’s highly involved, kinda like my overbearing, wants to always be included Jewish mother (love you mom)!
And in addition to flexing the hip and because of it’s location, the psoas muscle also helps to stabilize and integrate the spine and pelvis, especially if other muscles are weak and not doing their job. Cough cough abdominals, it’s time to wake up!
Why Talk About It
Because our psoas muscle is directly connected to the central nervous system, our day-to-day lives feed into the health + wellness of this important muscle group. Essentially, if unmanaged stress is present, our psoas muscle is stressed too. If our breath is constricted, so is our psoas muscle. If we are operating from a chronic level of anxiety (possibly unconsciously), then our psoas muscle is also chronically attempting to contract.
So while the sequence here is aimed to help create a healthy psoas muscle, the change needs to first come from within.
….. and how’s that for a body, mind and soul connection!
Which leads me into the next important topic, using our yoga practice, mindfulness efforts, and relaxation methods to set the stage for a successful psoas targeted yoga flow. Let’s dive in.
Yoga + Relaxation Methods for Your Psoas
For today’s sequence and simply life in general, I invite you to cultivate the art of relaxation. Yes, I know life is spinning in opposite directions, the to-do lists are only increasing, and the pressure to find your purpose here on Earth is possibly overwhelming. And also know that I am right beside you, even with all my yoga teacher knowledge and experience.
…… yoga teachers are stressed too, just saying.
So together, let’s make a pact to stop the unmanaged stress and start anew, and here’s how.
- Set aside the time to do this practice wholeheartedly, don’t half-ass it
- Make a commitment to stay connected to your breath (both on and off the mat)
- Setup your yoga space in a calm, disturbance free environment
- Add calming touches to create the ambience that you need, like aromatherapy
In today’s yoga video, you’ll notice some beautiful candles burning bright. They are from the Mind & Body Collection from Chesapeake Bay Candle. This form of aromatherapy can help set the tone, relax our mental state, and allow the body to be present throughout the flow. A few things to note about this candle line.
First and foremost, it was created with me and you in mind.
The Mind + Body collection is perfect for those who are interested in their health + wellbeing, love the outdoors, committed to stepping on the yoga mat, and turned on by all natural ingredients (like the essential oils you need to smell in these candles).
If the idea of aromatherapy is something you love and want to welcome into your life as you work to reduce stress, release anxiety, and make yoga a priority, below are the candles that I have burning bright.
And now, let’s get into this psoas muscle sequence!
Come join me, unroll your yoga mat, setup your peaceful environment, and let’s breathe together.
I’ll meet you there!