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As stated by Danielle Olson, the psoas major muscle is the “muscle of the soul”. Located near the hip bone, this core-stabilizing muscle affects flexibility, joint function, structural balance, and mobility. Apart from helping the keep the body upright and moving, this muscle also helps connect with the present moment, particularly when it is stretched out.

It has been scientifically found that the psoas is of utmost importance for both structural and psychological wellbeing. According to Liz Koch, the author of The Psoas Book, psoas “literally embodies our deepest urge for survival, and more profoundly, our elemental desire to flourish.” Therefore, this muscle is much more than a structural element. It is very likely that healthy psoas improves mental health, too.

Where is The Psoas?

This muscle is the main muscle associated with physical stability. It goes from the legs to the spine and is the only muscle which connects the legs to the spinal column. It widens from the T12 vertebrae, goes down the five lumbar vertebrae, and ends to the top of the thigh bone.

Apart from connecting the legs and the spinal column, the psoas is connected to the diaphragm as well. Breathing is modulated in the diaphragm and is the area where most physical symptoms associated with anxiety and fear occur. Koch assumes that this is a result of the link between the psoas and the reptilian brain, the most ancient part of the brain stem and spinal cord.

According to Koch, “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.” The psoas is in constant “fight or flight” state due to the busy lifestyle we have today.

Issues Associated with Chronic Psoas Stress

Being trapped in such a state, psoas muscles are constricted and stress most of the time. As stated by Koch, “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 in the psoas leads to many issues, including digestive issues, dysfunctional breathing, and back, hip or knee pain. It is very likely that it is the cause of chronic physical pain as well.

However, chronically- stressed psoas doesn’t only cause physical pain, but mental health too. As mentioned in the very beginning, the psoas is much more than a muscle used for structural stability. It also affects the way you feel, how you treat others, and how you look at the world.

Chronically- stressed psoas muscle has been linked with many problems: it can influence your satisfaction with life, it can affect your interpersonal relationship, and even negatively impact your emotional state. Therefore, keeping it healthy is of utmost importance in order to maintain physical and emotional health.

“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,” states Koch.

Fear and the Psoas

People with a constricted psoas are characterized with over-represented fear, given that psoas is connected to our ‘fight or flight” mechanism.

Fear is an emotion which manifests itself in the strangest ways and may lead to both physical and emotional tension. Restoring balance to the psoas muscles helps release this tension, which improves both physical and mental wellbeing, providing sense of inner peace and reduction in strains and muscle aches.

The Connection to the Energetic Body

Releasing the psoas grounds you to the Earth, which is filled with revitalizing and healing properties, which in turn balances the pranic energy. Proper structural stability directly enabled by a healthy psoas further allows prana to flow and distribute vital energy throughout the body.

Ancient Wisdom for Modern Times

Understating of the psoas is nothing new and even the ancient cultures were aware of its importance. As a matter of fact, yoga shows that ancient gurus were familiar with the importance of releasing contracted psoas muscles.

Ancient yoga postures, which are now practiced worldwide, focus on releasing psoas muscles and restoring balance to the body. With a little practice, you can learn how to isolate this practice and thus gain numerous benefits in the long run.

Yoga also helps measure the current health of the psoas. For instance, the tree posture cannot be achieved in case of contracted psoas. If you feel a little strain in the knees or lower back while practicing standing or sitting yoga pose, it is very likely that your psoas is constricted.

Neglecting this muscle results in physical and mental tension, manifested by anxiety, depression, respiratory problems, digestive issues, and chronic back, knee, or joint pain.