The relationship between stress and the psoas and how to release it

The relationship between stress and the psoas and how to release it


While it`s already a well-known fact that there is a strong relationship between the mind and the body, a few people are familiar with the term “physical muscle of the soul”.  Well, according to Danielle Prohom Olson, therapist and filmmaker, relaxing the psoas, also known as “the muscle of the soul”, one can reconnect with the energy of the Earth.

What Is Your Psoas?

The psoas is the deepest muscle in the human body.  There is one on each side of the spine, bound to both sides and going from the 12th thoracic vertebra to each of the lumbar vertebra. Then, it goes through the abdominal core and the pelvis without binding to the bone, and then connects to the iliacus miscle at the top of the thigh bone.

Given that it has an impact on the structural balance, muscular integrity, strength, range of motion, flexibility, joint mobility, and organ function, the psoas is of utmost importance when it comes to proper body movement.  In other words, without psoas, one would be unable walk or keep proper posture.  When moving your legs to walk, a healthy psoas moves easily, massaging the spine, blood organs, nerves of the trunk, and the organs.  Consequently, there is a proper flow of fluids throughout the entire body, providing a feeling of being centered.

It is worth mentioning that psoas is the only muscle connection the spine to the legs. It is also connected with the diaphragm, affecting breathing and fear reflux due to the relationship between the psoas and the reptilian brain.

As explained by Liz Koch, the author of The Psoas Book,  and founder of Core Awareness, “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.”

Why The Psoas Is Considered the Muscle of the Soul

Long before she became familiar with the effect psoas has on energy; Olson started incorporating more hip opening poses at the beginning and end of her yoga practice.  While her goal was to relax the psoas,  she experienced a notable reduction in tension.  Once she came across Koch`s research and Taoism, she learned more about the relation between the psoas, stress, and spirituality and called the psoas “the muscle of the soul”.

Taoism is a philosophy trying to explain the relation between human beings, nature, and the universe.  Those practicing Taoism focus on health, immortality, detachment, spontaneity, spirituality, genuineness, and transformation.  Within the Taoists, the psoas is considered the muscle of the soul, helping ground us and circulate energy throughout the whole body.

The Relationship Between Stress and the Psoas and How to Release It

Stress, fear, and anxiety and considered as mental health issues and are treated with the help of medications which target the mind.  However, even though these medications have helped many people, it is important to look for the root cause of the issue, including the connection between stress and the psoas.  As found by Koch and Olson, unlocking the psoas is the key to reducing stress and tension.

These days most people are living high-stress lives which are highly unhealthy and tend to tighten the psoas.  If we contract the psoas on a regular basis due to an increased stress or tension, the muscle shortens and causes a wide range of issues like sciatica, disc problems, scoliosis, hip degeneration, lower back pain, digestive issues, menstruation pain, and infertility.

In case you are suffering from any of the problems above or are just looking for a way to prevent or reduce stress, give the following yoga poses a try:

  • Low lunge and high lunge (Crescent pose)
  • Pigeon pose
  • Sitting cross-legged
  • Tadasana (Mountain pose)
  • Conscious Savasana (lay in this pose and surrender to the pull of gravity)
  • Vrksasana (Tree pose)

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