There has been lots of hype lately about the psoas but why?
Let’s start first with what it is?
The psoas major is a long muscle located on the side of the lumbar region of the vertebral column and the pelvis. It joins the illacus muscle to form the iliopsoas.
What does it do?
The psoas major joins the upper body and the lower body, the axial to the appendicular skeleton, the inside to the outside, and the back to the front.
It forms part of a group of muscles called the hip flexors.
Tightness of the psoas can result in spasms or lower back pain by compressing the lumbar discs. A hypertonic and inflamed psoas can lead to irritation and entrapment of the ilioinguinal and the iliohypogastric nerves, resulting in a sensation of heat or water running down the front of the thigh.
The appearance of a protruding belly can visually indicate a hypertonic psoas, which pulls the spine forward while pushing the abdominal contents outward.
What yoga poses are good for releasing the Psoas?
1. Standing on a Block Leg Swing
Here’s a simple exercise you can do anytime, anywhere to help you unwind and move toward a happy psoas.
Place a yoga block a foot or so away from a wall. Step one foot up onto the block, and bring your hand to the wall for balance.
Then, lift the hip point of your hanging leg so that it’s level with your other hip point, (your two frontal hip bones should be level). Engage between your pubic bone and navel.
Then, keeping your hips level and an engagement in your deep low belly, gently swing your free leg back and forth. Keep the support in your belly, and let your leg swing like a pendulum. Avoid swinging your upper body back and forth.
2. Low Lunge
Instead of pushing the pelvis forward, try this: Back out of the lunge a little bit, and engage between your hip points, drawing them toward one another and allowing the psoas to release. Move your thighs back, especially your back thigh; even lift your back inner thigh up. Keep that, and lift up through your low belly a bit (so that you’re not collapsing onto your front thigh).
This is a powerful pose, it engages all your muscles at once and starts to open your chest and heart. It effectively stretches the hips, groin, hamstrings, and also opens up the shoulders and chest. So if you only have time for one stretch definitely make it this one.
- Beginning in downward facing dog, bring the right knee towards the chest and drop the foot firmly onto the mat.
- Keeping your right knee directly above your right ankle, push down with both your left leg and right foot as you raise your torso up.
- With both your front and back legs active, keep your hips squared (facing forward) while dropping down so your right thigh is parallel with the mat and your right knee is bent 90 degrees.
- Engage your abs and sweep your arms straight above your head.
- Hold for 8 breaths.
- Repeat on the other side.
Happy Baby Pose
Although this pose looks incredibly awkward, it’s actually amazing for a bunch of different areas of your body, back, hips, hamstrings to name a few.
- Start by laying on your back.
- Exhaling, lift your knees towards your belly while keeping the hips flexed.
- On your next inhale, grip both feet with your hands and spread your legs slightly wider than your torso while bringing your knees towards your armpits.
- Bring your ankles above your knees so your calves are perpendicular to the floor.
- BreatheDragon Pose
This, in my opinion, is one of the most important yoga poses. It accesses specific areas of our bodies that need to be stretched that no other yoga pose can (to the same extent).
- Begin either on hands and knees in neutral table top.
- Step one foot up to the outside of your hand. *You might notice that this foot is trying to roll onto the outside edge, this is normal, it’s the way your hip bones are put together, allow it.
- Walk the front foot forward until the knee is right above the heel.
- Slide the back knee backward as far as you can.
- You can roll up the side of your mat under your back knee for some additional cushion.
- Keep arms extended long or lower forearms to a block or chest all the way down to your mat.
- Breathe!! This pose can be intense but always remember if you can continue to take full deep breaths in and out then you should be safe, it’s when you notice your holding breathes in any pose, you should ease off.
I hope these suggestions help anyone who is currently struggling with a tight psoas, as always feel free to email me with any questions and i’ll always do my best to help.
Live longer, healthier and happier.