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A Key to Health Getting to Know Your Psoas

by Liz Koch • Felton, CA

The day my mom went into the hospital for her hip replacement, the doctor had already performed eight others. Back and knee problems seem as common as the common cold. So what gives? Is it true that the body wears out like an old car part– or is our mindset a common but limited perspective on the healing capabilities of the human body?

It was around the beginning of the industrial revolution that the idea that human beings were like machines came into being. The body was seen as being like a clockwork toy, capable of being taken apart, parts replaced and then put back together again. Although this perspective has produced powerful life saving procedures, this view also limits our awareness of the wonders of the human body and life itself.

Coming to understand the human body as a living system shifts our paradigm of health. The same self-healing possibilities that repair a cut or heal a bruise are always working to self-correct every system within a human being. Understanding that problems come about when we somehow interfere with the capability of our bodies to self-correct shifts our perspective from fixing the problem to the ancient concept of prevention. Going from the goal of curtailing discomfort, pain and illness to supporting the body’s self-correcting power awakens us to the possibility of inhabiting a joyful body. We can take steps to stop interfering with the body’s natural processes.

A vital key to prevention and self-corrective possibilities rests with one muscle, the psoas (so-as.) Getting to know this muscle can have far reaching results in reducing wear and tear on the hip joints, knees and spine. A supple, dynamic psoas reduces stress, enhances digestion and eliminates fatigue. Here are a few facts about the psoas that might encourage you to develop a better relationship with yours.

The psoas is the core muscle of the body, maintaining fluid motion while walking. It attaches along the front of the spine. It is the only muscle attaching the spine to the leg, as it spans from solar plexus to upper thigh. All problems associated with the lower back, hip sockets, knees and ankles can be greatly improved by releasing tension in the psoas and engaging it properly while sitting and walking.

However, the psoas is more than a muscle. It is also a shelf, providing support for all the abdominal organs. In addition, it is a hydraulic pump that, in combination with the diaphragm, massages the internal organs, viscera and spinal fluid. It is also part of the fear reflex (the fight or flight response,) and has a great deal to do with your gut feelings, or what you know to be true for you.
Like the info-mercial products that clean everything from car parts to fine china, and can be served as a topping on desserts, learning about your psoas muscle is likely to help just about everything.

Gaining a supple psoas relieves a wide range of symptoms; everything from menstrual cramps, water retention, sleep difficulties and foot rotations to recovering from deep-seated fears and trauma.

A simple technique for releasing your psoas is the constructive rest position:





Rest on your back with knees bent and your feet placed parallel to each other, the same distance apart as the front of your hip sockets. Place your heels approximately 16-24 inches away from your buttocks. Keep your trunk and head parallel with the floor. DO NOT push or flatten the spine or tuck your pelvis. Simply rest in this position for 10-20 minutes. In this position, gravity releases the psoas.

To keep your hip sockets open and your pelvis balanced while sitting, here is another exercise: Use a flat seated chair and sit with your pelvis level and your weight in front of your tuberosities (sits bones.) Keep your hips parallel with the floor and the knees lower than your hip sockets. This keeps the psoas released while it increases blood circulation throughout the hip sockets, legs and feet.

Getting to know your psoas and learning ways to free its movement will keep your inherent self-corrective system vital. This leads to ease of movement and self-expression. Tuning into your psoas can help you face life with a smile.

Liz Koch is the author of The Psoas Book, a comprehensive guide to the Iliopsoas Muscle and its profound effect on the body/mind/emotions. She will be teaching a weekend workshop March 29-30th at The Yoga Room in East Patchoque. For more info, visit her website: www.coreawareness.com