Monday, November 15, 2010

Psoas Release

The psoas muscle is often a buzz-word in yoga circles, but where is it and how do I release it?
The psoas and its counterpart, the iliacus (often referred to as one unit, the "iliopsoas") is located deep in your mid-section.  It attaches to the lower spine, runs through the pelvis & attaches to the femur, the large bone in your thigh.  These muscles act to flex the hip joint, advancing the thigh in walking-type movements.  Typically, I find that students with a tight psoas have low back pain, coupled with an excessive arch to their lower spine (lordosis).  They also may complain of tight hips, inflexible hip flexors, and sore quadricep muscles.
Engaging your low belly, and finding neutral pelvis while standing and engaging in yoga asana is a great way to strengthen the psoas muscle.  We will deal with neutral pelvis in another posting.
It's relatively easy, however, to allow the psoas muscle to release and relax.  Begin by lying on your back, with both knees bent, feet flat on the floor.  Now just breathe.  Meditate, or listen to music, but stay here and breathe.  As you begin to relax, notice how your low back seems to 'melt' into the mat.  Feel free to adjust your pose to accomodate this elongation of your psoas muscle.  Don't expect your psoas to release in 30 seconds, or even a few minutes.  For many people, especially those who don't have a regular yoga practice, this process can take as long as 20 minutes.  Give yourself time and enjoy the journey.
We'll address the psoas again, but for now, enjoy lengthening this very important hip-mover!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Jennifer, great article. I'm going to give this a try. Thanks for sharing!