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The Psoas - The Muscle of the Soul Let's help him reactivate the life force of the Universe

If you think that the psoas is just a simple core stabilizing muscle, you are wrong; the psoas is a perceptive organ composed of bio-intelligent tissue, it is even thought to embody our most ancestral pulse for survival and, even more profoundly, our innate desire to thrive.

The psoas muscle is the deepest muscle in the human body, it affects our structural balance, muscle integrity, flexibility, strength, freedom of movement, joint mobility and organ function. Extending from both sides of the spine, the psoas runs laterally from the 12th thoracic vertebra (T12) to each of the 5 lumbar vertebrae, then runs downward through the abdominal core, pelvis, finally attaching to the top of the bone of the femur, i.e. the thigh. The Psoas is the only "muscle" that connects the spine to the legs. If we are in an upright position it is thanks to him since it allows us to lift our legs to walk.

An optimally functioning psoas stabilizes the spine and provides support across the trunk, forming a support point for the vital organs of the abdominal core. The psoas is connected to the diaphragm through connective tissue, or fascia, which influences both our breathing and the fear reflex. This is because the psoas is directly connected to the reptilian brain, the oldest internal part of the brainstem and spinal cord.

As well-known international somatic educator Liz Koch writes: "Long before speech or the organizational capacity of the cortex developed, the reptilian brain, known for its survival instincts, maintained our essential core functioning."

Koch believes that our modern, fast-paced lifestyle (driven by the adrenaline of our sympathetic nervous system) chronically triggers and strengthens the psoas, making it literally always ready to run or fight. In fact, our psoas helps us spring into action or curl into a protective position.

If due to stress or tension we constantly contract the psoas, the muscle will begin to shorten leading to a number of painful conditions including low back pain, sacroiliac pain, sciatica, disc problems, spondylolysis, scoliosis, hip degeneration, knee pain, painful menstruation, infertility and digestive problems.

A tight psoas not only creates structural problems, but constricts organs, puts pressure on nerves, interferes with fluid movement, and impairs diaphragmatic breathing. In fact, the psoas is so closely involved in physical and emotional reactions, that a chronically tight psoas continually signals the body that we are in danger, thus stressing the adrenal glands and depleting the immune system.

And again according to Koch, this situation is exacerbated by many things in our modern lifestyle, from car seats to constricting clothing, from chairs to shoes that distort our posture, limit our natural movements and further constrict our psoas. Koch believes the first step to cultivating a healthy psoas is to release unnecessary tension.

But "working" with the psoas does not mean wanting to control it, but rather cultivating the awareness necessary to perceive its messages. This involves making an informed choice to become "somatically aware". A relaxed psoas puts us in a state of lightness and creativity, whereas a contracted psoas is ready to run or fight.

The relaxed psoas is ready to stretch and open, it is ready to dance. In many yoga poses, take the tree for example, the thighs cannot fully rotate outward unless the psoas releases. A released psoas allows the front of the thighs to lengthen and the leg to move independently of the pelvis, improving and deepening the lift of the entire torso and core.

In the Taoist tradition the psoas is spoken of as the seat or muscle of the soul and surrounds the lower "Dan tien", an important energy center of the body. A flexible and strong psoas grounds us and allows subtle energies to flow through the bones, muscles and joints.

Koch writes: “The psoas, by conducting energy, connects us to the earth, just as a ground wire prevents shock and eliminates static electricity on a radio. Freed and rooted, the spine can awaken."

As gravitational flows transfer weight through bones, tissues, and muscles into the earth, the earth rebounds, traveling up the legs and spine, energizing, coordinating, and animating posture, movement, and expression. It is an ongoing conversation between oneself, the earth and the cosmos. So, it might be worth it, next time we exercise, to tune in and pay attention to what our bio-intelligent psoas has to say.

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