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Gentle Yoga for Calm; Toning the Psoas Muscle

In yoga this week we will have a special focus on the psoas muscle, one of the strongest muscles of the human body. The psoas connects the upper body to the lower and front to back. It affects how we walk, how we breathe, how we sit and stand, and our state of calm, or lack of it.

The psoas (pronounced so’as) muscle starts in the mid back and connects by a fascia with the diaphragm. It comes down to the pelvis, joins with the iliacus muscle, and attaches to the upper leg bone. It lifts our leg forward and to the side; it helps us bend forward ( say to tie a shoe or pick something up). And it stabilizes our vertebrae for good posture and healthy movement.

When the psoas muscle is tight or weak, it can lead to physical problems such as lower back pain, hip pain, and poor posture. Typical Americans sit for 12 hours a day. Spending a lot of time sitting is an important factor in psoas problems. Emotional issues can play a role too.

Here is how: the psoas is the first muscular responder when the sympathetic nervous system (the fight or flight system) is aroused. When we feel endangered, the psoas contracts to get us ready either to fight or run away.