The body/mind matrix is miraculous and fascinating. After all, just what we can see on the outside surface is amazing but when I think about what is going on below the surface that is when my mind gets totally blown. The psoas, is actually two muscles, the psoas major and the iliacus, together they form your iliopsoas. This is the only muscle that attaches your spine to your legs. It spans from t-12 to the lumber spine, comes across the inside of your pelvis and then attaches to the top of your inner thigh.
The biggest job for this muscle to to flex the hip, but it’s also part of walking, standing and running. When this muscle gets overly tight it can throw a number of things off both physically and emotionally. If you ever feel like you can’t “stand on your own 2 feet” look deep inside to your psoas as it likely has a message for you about that. All you need to do is sit and people watch for a moment and you will easily see how many people in the world have lost their “uprightness.”
Overly tight psoas muscles can be connected to fear and can knock you adrenals out of whack. When your breath is rapid and shallow it causes tightening of the psoas, this can become a cycle that tires out the adrenal glands that sit on top of the kidneys. When your lower ribs jut forward you stimulate the adrenals and the sympathetic nervous system. Many people are chronically holding in that state and over time it can really wear you down.
If you have ever had your psoas massaged (barf), you realize how deep and often how tight it is. Some suggest that the front of your body is more connected to the ego/individualism and the back body more connected to source energy or cosmic consciousness, so the action of moving your lower ribs (t-12) back and your thigh bones as well can help to release the psoas can create a safe space to release deep seated fears. Often this muscle holds past traumas so it’s important to be aware of your physical alignment in yoga and allow for healing rather than triggering. Events are stored in the citta (consciousness) and in the body, and that is precisely why yoga is one of the best practices to allow you to access a deep level of healing.
Even a posture like Virabhadrasana (Warrior) II can bring about an unwanted fight or flight response if the ribs push out, pulling them back allows the psoas to gently lengthen.
As some of you know getting your lower ribs back is no easy task! For the first 4 years that is all I did in yoga and I often felt totally overwhelmed, emotional and always felt like I was standing on shaky legs. Once I connected to this action of creating more space in my kidneys and supporting my psoas it totally changed how I felt in and after yoga.
Try it, push your lower ribs and thigh bones foreword… now pull your lower ribs back and then your thigh bones. It is subtle but very powerful. When we are in alignment we will be better able to hear the quiet messages from the body. We can let go of unnecessary fear and connect to untapped potential. Our connection to each other deepens when each one of us is more in tune with our hearts, minds and bodies.
What is your psoas saying to you?