I wake up sometime between 6 am and 9 am every morning. I pull on my yoga pants and throw on a top, then walk out into the living room to wake up the house. I pull the cover off of my lovely Jessi Bird, and empty her water try and refresh her food. I water the plants, tell them good morning, then feed the cat. I place a tea kettle on the stove and warm up water for my cup of green tea, while rolling out my matt. I bow to my alter space as I carefully remove my singing bowl, and set an incense in the burner. I place my Zafu on the top of my mat, then go back to the kitchen to pour my green tea. After smudging my self and my space, I light the candle on my alter, then the incense. Finally I sit down on my Zafu and breath in the sweet sandalwood scent mixed with sage, delve deep into my body and find what form my practice will take for the morning.
One Monday morning after the last weekend of my prenatal training, I sat down for my practice. As I breathed in the morning. I felt deep in my lower back a slow aching that had started coming up recently due to the large amount of driving that has been added to my schedule. I decided not to start my practice with the usual Sun Salutation that warms me up, but rather to lay flat on my back and slowly bring my right knee into my chest. After a few breaths, I slowly lengthened my left leg, and continued to breath. Slowly stretching out and releasing my psoas.
The psoas is a coming muscle discussed in the yoga community. Ever since Liz Koch published a wonderful work regarding how the psoas is not only a deep muscle that when stressed can be confused with similar pain as Sacroiliac Joint pain; but it also can become an emotional dumping ground regarding our traumas and more painful full scale emotions.
The psoas is a deep muscle that connects from the lower part of the spine – T12 to about L4 or L5 – then wraps around the pelvis to come over the front of the pubic bone and heads back to attach to the lesser trochanter of the femur (part of the upper leg bone just below the ball and socket joint). Being such a big muscle with such an attachment, this muscle helps keep the body upright, propels the legs forward, structural balance, muscular integrity, flexibility, strength, range of motion, joint mobility, and organ function. It also connects to the diaphragm through connective tissue, linking it to breathing and our ability to relax.
During my last weekend of prenatal yoga training, we began discussing this muscle. We started by reading a blog essay that discusses the reasons that the psoas was not only important to the body’s functions, but also because it can hold deep emotions that can cause the muscle to tense.
The reason that Koch believed that the psoas becomes an emotional dumping ground is because of the release of hormones, such as adrenaline, triggers and tightens the psoas. This triggering causes a fight or flight response within the muscle making it tense up. Within our fast paced and often stressful modern lifestyles, we are constantly pumping adrenaline in our system, so this muscle is often tense and sometimes unable to release. With the immense amount that this muscle is responsible, having it relaxed is of immense importance for mental, emotional, and physical health. Further if it is tense, it can affect our breathing which is directly linked to our ability to relax; thus we are always tense and unable to relax. (Body Divine Yoga by Danielle Prohom Olson)
That Monday as I finished up my practice, I once again ended with a release of my psoas. Although during the release I did not notice thoughts, emotions, or physical sensations pop up, in the hours following my practice I noticed strong sensations of emotions surrounding anger, annoyance, as well as sadness. Nonetheless I persisted in the days to follow with my practice. I continued to release my psoas before and after my practice.
After two days, I found myself deeply relaxed. It did not matter if it was a big or small event that went wrong, I would just smile and meet it head on. I had been screamed at, had clients cancel, had events and classes fall apart; nonetheless I continued to smile and just be with what was. I have true faith that everything is unfolding just as it needs to.
Working deep with the psoas helps to bring back physical, mental, and emotional balance. By working to release it not only can we each find deep inner peace; but also find better balance, flexibility, and strength.
Practice in Peace and Love ❤