Psoas…So What?! Finding and Exploring The Psoas in 10 Yoga Poses — YOGA PRACTICE

The psoas is used for the first time when a baby sits up at approximately at 8 months of age. It is the only muscle in the body that connects the spine to the legs. When the muscles contracts it affects several areas of the body: the lumbar spine, pelvis, and hips (The Mind Body Connection in Yoga ). Without thought, the psoas is responsible for helping people move, sit, walk, play sports, and more. In addition to flexion, they also contribute to the inner and external rotation of the hip (How to Stretch and Strengthen the Psoas ). Keeping a healthy psoas is important because it “affects structural balance, muscular integrity, flexibility, strength, range of motion, joint mobility, and organ functioning”.

Location and connections of the psoas

To find the psoas, one would need to look a few inches below the navel, past the abdominals and organs, and each psoas would be located near the spine. The muscles extend to the pelvis and down towards the inner femur. Specifically, the psoas major connects from the T12 to the L4 vertebral bodies.

Benefits of the Psoas

However, when the psoas is tight, weak or imbalanced it can create problems in the body. For example, when the psoas is overworked it can contribute to lower back pain (Journal and McCall 2007). When they are tight, lordosis can occur which is the overarching in the lumbar spine which can contribute to arthritis in the lumbar facet joints (How to Stretch and Strengthen the Psoas ). While hard to see and find in the body, a healthy psoas is crucial to maintaining stability and ease in the body.

Energetics of the Psoas

While the psoas directly relates to the first three chakras, the chakras are all connected and if energy is depleted, deficient, or excessive, the imbalance affects the rest indirectly related chakras.

Starting with the root chakra, working with psoas in seated postures can help feelings of security, survival, and family. By working on seated postures, the psoas can help unblock stuck energy.

Yoga postures that incorporate the psoas near the sacral area will help stimulate the tissue and the surrounding area. The second chakra is related to reproductive issues, sexual pleasure, lower back and hip issues, creativity, and pleasure.

The third chakra is located near the navel and is responsible for digestion, emotions, metabolism and personal power. The psoas is located near the area towards the lower part of the spine and yoga postures related to the psoas at this location will assist with self-esteem.

10 Asanas for the Psoas

● Build the contraction of the muscles slowly
● Contract the psoas only to 20% of its maximum ability
● Allow time for recovery between sessions
● Practice with an experienced teacher
● Consult your doctor before starting any exercise program

Yoga Anatomy instructor David Keil also recommends establishing a relationship with the psoas. Try to become mentally aware of where they are in the body and notice if they tight, weak, or strong and then adapt the practice to fit their needs.

Prior to starting the postures below, be sure to warm up the body to practice safely.

Balasana — Child’s Pose

Child’s pose helps create grounding for the root chakra.

Virabhadrasana II — Warrior 2 Pose

The psoas should be contracted in the bent leg and helps lengthen the lower spine while simultaneously stretching the psoas for the straight leg. Repeat on the left side.

Warrior 2 helps unlock stuck energy the root chakra which the emotions of loyalty, superstition, and instinct are stored.

Urdhva Mukha Svanasana — Upward Dog Pose

While strengthening the core, this asana also stretches the hips and the lower part of the psoas.

Upward dog directly affects the third chakra which is responsible for self-esteem.

Vrksasana — Supported Tree Pose

The psoas should be centrally located without tilting excessively forward to backward. While the standing leg is strengthening, the lifted leg is both strengthening and stretching. Since the psoas is working differently on each side, practice on each side equally. Correct any imbalances by becoming mindful of the body.

In addition to strengthening and stretching the psoas, tree pose when practiced properly is ideal for energizing the root chakra.

Paripurna Navasana — Boat Pose

While simultaneously working the abs, boat pose will also strengthen the psoas isometrically.

Purvottanasana — Upward Plank Pose

Upward plank will help strengthen the psoas major and iliacus.

Baddha Konasana — Cobbler’s Pose

The psoas and surrounding tissue are stimulated in Baddha Konasana affecting the second chakra. It can also assist in bladder issues, menstruation, sexual energy, and pregnancy.

Setu Bandha Sarvangasana — Half Bridge Pose

By incorporating yoga postures such as half bridge, practitioners can help lengthen the psoas and counteract the shortening of the muscles that typically occurs from sitting all day. Additionally, gentle backbends help unblock chakras two and three.

Ananda Balasana — Happy Baby Pose

Happy baby is will help stretch the psoas after intensely stretching them from the previous postures and affects the third chakra which is related to digestion, metabolism, and emotions.

Jathara Parivartanasana — Reclined Spinal Twist Pose

In addition to stretching the psoas, this stretch will also assist in the external rotation of the hip rotators, glutes, IT band and lower spine extensors.


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Originally published at on August 20, 2018.