As Danielle Olson called it, the psoas major muscle (pronounced “so-as”) is the “muscle of the soul.” This muscle is located close to the hip bone, and it stabilizes the core, influences flexibility, mobility, the function of the joints, structural balance, and much more.
This muscle supports the upright posture of the body, and when stretched out, it helps you to relate to the present moment by releasing the tension.
Researchers have found that it is extremely important for the psychological well-being. The author of The Psoas Book, Liz Koch, says that it “literally embodies our deepest urge for survival, and more profoundly, our elemental desire to flourish.”
It is the main muscle linked to the physical stability and is the only muscle which connects the spinal column and the legs.
It stretches from the legs to the spine, in fact, from the T12 vertebrae, goes down the five lumbar vertebrae, and attaches to the top of the thigh bone.
It is also connected to the diaphragm, which modulates breathing, and is also the location of numerous physical symptoms linked to fear and anxiety.
This is a result of the connection between this muscle and the most ancient part of our brain stem and spinal cord, known as the reptilian brain.
Koch adds “Long before the spoken word or the organizing capacity of the cortex developed, the reptilian brain, known for its survival instincts, maintained our essential core functioning.”
Modern lifestyles have trapped the psoas muscle into a constant “flight or fight” state, making it constricted and stressed.
As Koch explains: “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 chronic stress causes numerous issues like the knee, hip, and back pain, dysfunctional breathing, and digestive issues.
The psoas affects our feelings, our considerations about the world, our behavior, and views of life and the world around us. Therefore, if chronically stressed, it negatively affects our interpersonal relationships, emotional states and mood, and general health.
Koch adds, “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.”
In people with a constricted psoas, fear can be over-represented and leads to physical and emotional tension. This tension can be released by restoring the balance to the psoas muscle, and this will lead to enhanced physical and mental wellbeing.
By releasing the tension in the psoas, you will balance the pranic energy and thus help the proper distribution of vital energy.
Yet, this is not a new knowledge, as yoga shows that ancient gurus were aware of the importance of releasing contracted psoas muscles.
Ancient yoga asanas, or postures, focus on stretching and releasing psoas muscles and measures its current state. If you feel the strain in the knees or lower back while practicing standing or sitting yoga poses, your psoas is probably constricted.
Therefore, you should never neglect its condition as it might lead to physical and mental stress and tension, and support the development of depression, knee pain, respiratory issues, anxiety, chronic back pain, knee pain, and digestive distress.