The psoas is a true holistic muscle that integrates body, mind, emotion and spirit.
The psoas is a true holistic muscle that integrates body, mind, emotion and spirit. This important muscle connects your legs to your upper body and, as you can understand, it is essential that this muscle is supple and healthy. The psoas can become exhausted if you take too little rest, live too quickly and experience a lot of anxiety. An exhausted psoas brings many consequences . It is also possible that one part of the psoas is exhausted. The psoas consists of two parts; the top part and the bottom part. Which part is exhausted can reveal a lot about you as a person and how you stand in life at the moment.
The element of water and the psoas
The psoas runs from the solar plexus to the inner thigh.
Willfulness, self-realization, courage, survival and fear are all qualities associated with the element of water. The water element shows itself as kidney energy and is expressed in the solar plexus, which houses the psoas and kidneys. The element of water rules bones and blood, and is associated with all primitive life and our most powerful desire for self-realization.
Seen in this way, it is understandable that our waywardness can be expressed in misuse of the upper part of the psoas. When we really want something, it may seem that we can only get it done by securing the upper part of the psoas. But if one part of the body is firmly shut off, other parts pay the price. Anchoring the top portion of the psoas can be detrimental to the health of our adrenal glands because that portion is close to the kidneys. The psoas, which plays a role in the fight, flight or freeze response, is associated with adrenal exhaustion, general exhaustion and a reduced immune response.
Nourishing the adrenal glands helps to heal a damaged or malfunctioning psoas and conversely, a smooth psoas refreshes the adrenal glands with its massaging motion.
Read more about the element of water from Chinese medicine.
Blocked emotions and feelings
The vitality of the psoas profoundly affects every aspect of our health.
An anchored upper psoas also affects breathing and sensory quality in the lungs and heart. A tight upper part of the psoas blocks our heart, preventing it from opening to emotions and expressing our love and vulnerability.
By controlling our feelings, a tight upper psoas can keep us from impulsive sensations felt in the abdominal core. Getting a grip on our feelings goes hand in hand with tension in the abdomen and upper psoas. Muscle tension keeps feelings in check because it blocks the range of motion of the diaphragm and limits sensory awareness. This tension eventually leads to fragmentation of the flowing whole of the psoas. It is essential that the upper and lower parts of the psoas express themselves as one complete and integrated whole.
Also read: Chinese Medicine: hidden emotions are a major cause of illness
Kidney and bladder meridians and the upper part of the psoas
The kidney meridian energetically connects the upper part of the psoas with the feet. Just in front of the arch of the foot is an important kidney point called the source of life or bubbling spring. Our kidney meridian and the corresponding bladder meridian that run down the back of the body are associated with protection and defense.
The water element, which is expressed through the kidney and bladder meridians, is also associated with the orifices of the body such as the genitals and anus, thus affecting sexual and bladder health, menstruation and orgasm.
Also read: Cystitis according to Chinese Medicine: need for a safe base
Also read: Chinese Medicine about kidney complaints: your energy management is not in order
The psoas as support
When the psoas is used as a structural support, a slight degree of anxiety is continuously signaled. When you behave or are in a perpetual survival mode (i.e. living in a rush), the sympathetic nervous system is alerted and so the overload will further exhaust the adrenal glands and immune system. If you are constantly defensive and alert, you will maintain armor to compensate.
Also read: Can you gain weight due to stress and what role does cortisol play in this?
Instability of the skeleton ensures that more and more effort is required from the muscles. Once the psoas has regained flexibility and the pelvis is re-centered, harmony in the core is restored, allowing the muscles on the outside to regain their freedom of movement. Like a seed that no longer needs the outer shell for protection, our life force can break through and blossom.
Exercise: Relax the upper part of the psoas
Note: If you discover that you have only partial range of motion without engaging muscle compensation, do not proceed with this exploration. Do not use force. Instead of continuing, we recommend that you read Liz Koch ‘s book Core Awareness , which contains exercises to increase your pelvic stability.
What do you need: a flat folded blanket and a yoga mat or a floor with a soft surface
- First lie down in the CRH (this is how you do this pose) . In short: Lie on your back, bend your knees and place your feet on the floor.
- Raise your arms, palms turned toward each other and fingers extended, pointing toward the ceiling. Focus your awareness on your solar plexus as you notice that your arms have a relationship with your spine and rib cage.*
- Raise one arm toward the ceiling, exaggerating the sensation of hanging, tension and contraction of the chest. Drop the arm into its socket (without sagging). Keep the arm straight and the elbow out of the lock. Do this exploration several times: lift the arm, feel the weight and drop the arm deeper into the socket of the shoulder.
- Switch arms and feel the difference between your shoulder cups
- before you start again. Now repeat this exercise on the other side.
- Move one arm at a time in very small circles to awaken proprioception. Let your arm come to a stop with fingers pointing toward the ceiling, then make small circles in the opposite direction.
- Pause and notice if you are holding your breath. If so, relax and take a long, deep breath.
- Soften the solar plexus as the first impulse before sliding both arms behind and over your head on the floor. Do this at a pace that feels comfortable and is easy. As your arms move over your head toward the floor, they will feel weight, and the length and width of the upper part of the psoas will increase.
- Let your eyes and head respond to the movement by following your hands. When you do, the sternocleidomastoid (scm) muscle will relax and spread upward and lengthen and your throat will open up.
- Use your feet to initiate your arms back up. Do not anchor or tense the upper part of the psoas as you return your arms to the starting point: on the contrary, feel the counter-reaction by keeping your solar plexus soft and pushing off slightly with your feet.
Variation: upper part of the psoas relaxed (arms crossed)
This attitude can increase your sense of emotional security. In addition, from this position you can explore the solar plexus and the feelings held in the upper part of the psoas and diaphragm.
- Rest your arms on your chest (the traditional CRH). Doing so increases the weight in your rib cage, increasing your sense of emotional security.
- Make a loud hissing sssss sound (like a snake) between your lips and teeth on a long exhale.
- Imagine sending that back and forth along the front of your spine. Sound increases awareness and movement of the diaphragm, upper psoas and spine.
Keys to Expanding Awareness During Exercise:
– As you explore your core and arm movements, notice if your rib cage moves with your arms. If your ribcage moves with your arms, that indicates muscle compensation and a pinched upper part of the psoas. Take the time to explore the sensations surrounding the solar plexus.
– Notice the sensations around your solar plexus. What is the quality of what you feel? How does your spine respond to your breathing?
– In order for the upper part of the psoas to relax and lengthen, the spine must remain neutral and the jaw and pelvic floor must remain relaxed. As your spine lifts, pause and return your arms to the starting position and start again with greater awareness.
– By gently pressing your feet against the floor, opening your mouth and feeling your pelvic floor you can stimulate a sense of contact that is important for keeping the bones neutral.
– Pay attention to your eyes and head. If you feel yourself locking your head with your chin down, or if you fixate your eyes (stare), explore what it’s like to have your head react and follow the movement of your arms.