Yoga Musings; the psoas muscle

I talk a lot about the psoas muscle when I’m teaching so my regular yogis will be familiar with the term.

However, for most people this incredibly important muscle isn’t one they’ve heard of before.

The psoas muscle

In simple terms, your psoas muscle connects the spine to the top of the legs and is the largest of the hip flexors.

It’s also connected to your fight or flight response and the muscle will contract due to emotional or physical stresses. So whether you’ve had a car accident, a bad fall or suffered a bereavement your psoas will have got involved somehow.

When you don’t release your psoas the muscle remains contracted and the end result is pain in your body – often felt in your back. However, many experts believe that all pain in the body can be tracked back to a contracted psoas.

There are many poses that stretch the psoas and most of the lunge-type poses will do a good job with Warrior I being particularly good. Pigeon is very beneficial too, although it’s a pose that needs to be done with mindful awareness – especially in the case of a knee issue.

Although stretching is important, the really vital thing is to release your muscle regularly by adopting a constructive resting pose.

Luckily the releasing part is very easy – and incredibly relaxing.

I can’t stress how useful this pose is for people with back issues from minor tightness in the muscles to full blown degenerative back conditions.

It’s my go-to position whenever my back aches and keeps me pretty much pain free. Over the years I’ve recommended it to so many people. I’d suggest doing it daily if you’ve got a big back issue and a couple of times a week for minor niggles.

And it’s not just the back that benefits from regularly releasing the psoas muscle; it’s great for helping to lower blood pressure, ease indigestion and emotional trauma that might be stored in the hips and low back. It’s a marvel!

Equipment needed

A chair

A slim yoga block or folded blanket


Releasing the psoas

Releasing the psoas


To do

Place your chair in front of you and lie on your back. Inhale, exhale and swing your legs up so they’re resting on the chair. If you’re tall and your, then turn the chair so that your legs aren’t cramped.

Rest your head on your support.

Lie like this for at least five minutes – it takes that time for the psoas to release.

Focus on breathing in and out through your nose and become conscious of your chest and abdomen rising on inhalation. Don’t force the breath to be slow, just allow it to find it’s own pace and rhythm.

Once you’re ready to come up, do so slowly. Bring your knees to your chest and pause for a few moments, then roll to your side and pause again. Then when you’re ready use your hands to push yourself into a seated position.

That’s it. Simple.


It teaches you how to breathe correctly using the whole of your diaphragm which will strengthen your immune system, reduce your stress levels and increase your energy levels. If you’re not breathing fully you’re more likely to suffer with panic attacks and develop conditions such as insomnia and depression.

It boosts your immune system meaning you’re less likely to get infections and other ailments.

It protects your spine and strengthens your back.

It perfects your posture, so you’re less likely to have the many  conditions associated with standing or sitting incorrectly.

It makes your bones stronger – which is especially important as you age.

It improves your flexibility so you’re less likely to have aches and pains.

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