I have an addiction to stretching the psoas muscle.
There, I admitted it.
The psoas is a large muscle that attaches at the bottom of the thoracic spine and along the lumbar spine, then runs down over the front of the hip joint and attaches at the top of the femur. It is the only muscle connecting the spine to the leg.
I became fascinated with this muscle once I figured out that I need to keep it happy to keep my lower back happy.
When the muscle becomes tight from injuries, poor posture, sitting for a fair amount of time or even stress, it can alter how the pelvis, lumbar, thoracic and even cervical vertebrae function and can typically lead to pain down the front of the thigh and along the lower to mid spinal column.
We’ve all been there—it’s literally a pain in the you-know-what to deal with!
It can torque your spine to one side, pull it forward and twist the pelvis—ouch! One psoas can shorten and pull the spine and/or pelvis to our dominant side. The distortions of the spine and pelvis can also show up as a short or long leg. This can result in scoliosis, spasms in back muscles trying to resist the pulling of the psoas and that lower belly “pooch” we all dislike so strongly!
If this all sounds miserable to you, make sure to keep the psoas happy with these three yoga asanas:
Start in a kneeling position, keep knees together and bring the feet apart sitting in between the heels. Start by walking your hands back keeping shoulders out of ears, your practice might stop you there, if you like lower down to the elbows and eventually down to your back expanding your rib cage.
Stepping right foot forward into low lunge, place left hand to the inside of the right foot reaching right hand up to and rotating to the outer edge of right foot. Keep it there or add in a quad stretch and reach back for left foot.
We all love pigeon! It feels so—for lack of a better word—yummy! Placing right knee behind the right hand and heel to left hip, keeping weight even between hips take an inhale to lengthen the spine and on the exhale work your way into a forward fold. If you’re feeling like a twist, come and take opposite hand to knee.
Hold each asana for about 10 breaths.
Remember to counteract poses with balasana (child’s pose).
Heidi Templeton is a Tampa Bay Area yoga instructor specializing in vinyasa, hot and standup paddle board yoga. When she’s not practicing asana, you can find her in the kitchen cooking up vegetarian dishes. Heidi is sharing her love for all things health and wellness on www.facebook.com/HeidiFit.
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Ed: K.Macku/Kate Bartolotta