3 Poses to Help the Psoas. ~ Heidi Templeton

Via elephant journal
on May 20, 2013
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I have an addiction to stretching the psoas muscle.

There, I admitted it.

psoasThe 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:

Reclined HeroReclined hero pose

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.

Lizard Variation

Lizard variation

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.



Reclining PidgeonPigeon

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 templetonHeidi 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


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8 Responses to “3 Poses to Help the Psoas. ~ Heidi Templeton”

  1. While these are certainly all nice stretches. What most people don't understand is that more than being stretched, the psoas needs to relax. Refer to the work of David Berceli, Liz Koch, Peter Levine, etc.

  2. Ruthie says:

    Yes, in addition to being lengthened/ stretched the psoas often needs to *relax* and also sometimes needs to be stimulated/ awakened! Sometimes it needs strengthening, sometimes it needs to be freed from surrounding tissue as it can get stuck and paralyzed and even dormant. The types of dysfunction are varied and it's different for every person! I am a Rolf Practitioner and come from that background. I also wrote an article here on elephant called "myths and realities about the core" — look it up!

  3. Joe Sparks says:

    Hi Heidi, excellent article about Psoas " jack of-all- trade muscles, playing many roles in body movement and core stabilization. Psoas imbalance affects the entire body. " If one is balanced, the body will function without pain. The Psoas muscle is the connector muscle from diaphragm to the legs. Using inhalation while contracting the Psoas as hip flexor will bring tone and length to the muscle ". Michealle Edwards– author of YogAlign
    My only suggestion is keeping the spine in natural alignment and any weight on the knee in cobra with rounding spine is not activating the Psoas. Releasing the Psoas starts with getting the diaphragm muscle working allowing the rib cage to move. You are heading in the right direction. We need more yoga teachers like yourself.

  4. Robyn says:

    Thanks for this! I have been having a lot of lower back pain and I'm looking to try anything that might help! Practicing yoga consistently has not helped. I'm fairly new (less than a year of regular practice). The psoas has been one of those muscles that confused me. Sometimes people talk about it like it's in the front, sometimes like it's in the back. Now I understand why! That diagram really helped.

  5. ellenfein says:

    these are good poses for some but is important to understand whether stretching is required as noted in other comments. if you have hip or knee problem these poses may not be safe. and if you have instability in your sacrum you may well aggravate it while trying to stretch psoas. there is never a one size that works for everyone

  6. Melissa says:

    Thanks for the tips! In the future, it may help your mobile phone audience to provide contrast between your yoga pants and the mat. It would be easier for me to see the position of your legs in the helpful photos if the mat had been bright blue, for example. Thanks again from me and my psoas.

  7. Bonita says:

    Interesting article, was disappointed however that your choice of pant and mat color made it impossible to get a clear mental image of the positions.

  8. Guest says:

    Thanks for these. Everyone's a critic