The psoas is the largest muscle in the body. Not only is it used for core stabilization, but it’s largely tied to our fight-or-flight reflex mechanism.
The psoas major muscle (pronounced “so-as”) is often referred to as the deepest core, or as yoga therapist and film-maker Danielle Olsonstates, the “muscle of the soul.” This core-stabilizing muscle located near the hip bone affects mobility, structural balance, joint function, flexibility, and much more. In addition to its function to help keep the body upright and moving, the psoas is believed to allow you to connect with the present moment especially when it is stretched out and tension is released from the body.
Trapped in a constant “flight or fight” state, psoas muscles are stressed and constricted, almost from the time of birth. As Koch notes, “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.” This lifelong chronic stress put on the psoas can lead to many problems like back, hip, or knee pain, and even digestive issues and dysfunctional breathing. It could also be a major cause why people suffer from chronic physical pain.
A variety of problems have been associated with a chronically-stressed psoas muscle: it can negatively affect your emotional state; it can impact your interpersonal relationships; and it can influence your general contentment with life. Awareness that a healthy psoas is important to emotional wellness, as well as physical health, is the first step towards ensuring that we give this muscle the attention it deserves.
Koch states, “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.”
Healing the body of stress is done gradually and consistently, as there is no single method that will magically do it overnight. However, craniosacral therapy is one great tool we can utilize for relaxing ourselves into a parasympathetic state, which helps soothe the nervous system and melt away stress.
Another great way of healing the body is through yoga and meditation. Many people are unaware that yoga is one of the healthiest (and easiest) practices you can do every day, as it heals, rejuvenates and relaxes your entire being. Different yoga poses help relax different parts of the body, so you can find a series of postures designed specifically for healing, or you can build your own routine. Here is a list from Yoga International that might be helpful to those who are just starting.
Even just five to ten minutes of stretching out your ‘muscle of the soul’ will have a tremendous impact on your health and well-being. From being able to move more effectively to being less anxious and stressed out. But, you have to make the choice to do so, it will not happen without effort on your part. Look inward and decide that you want to help yourself as much as possible.
Lengthening and releasing your psoas grounds you to the Earth, which is filled with healing and revitalizing energy, thus allowing you to balance your pranic energy and enabling you to feel more present in the moment. Proper structural stability attributed to a healthy psoas allows prana to flow, unimpeded, throughout the body, allowing for proper distribution of vital energy. In the physical sense, when the body can properly support itself, movement is less-restricted and requires less effort, thus leaving you more energetic.