Yoga, nourishing whole foods and fitness are all integral parts of my stress management plan and life as a health copywriter and busy mum. I'm blessed to be a working mother of three fantastic kids. I love every minute, but its' busy. Whether we like it or not, most of our lives today is faced paced. I often hear how 'stressed out' someone is and it is not a term to be taken lightly. As we all know, stress can have such a negative effect on our health and overall well-being. As a health and wellness writer, I am often writing about whole foods to nourish our bodies, but that's only half of the full picture of optimal wellness. Nourishing whole foods, a good solid fitness routine and yoga will all help with stress release.
Release Your Psoas Muscle With Yoga For Effective Stress Release
We all have the powerful iliopsoas also known as the psoas (pronounced ‘so-az’) muscle which once tuned into and released can significantly enhance your physical and emotional health. This muscle affects your wellbeing and how you relate to the world.
The psoas attaches to the side and toward the front of the 12th thoracic vertebra and each of the lumbar vertebras. Moving through the pelvis the psoas inserts along with the iliacus muscle at the top of the femur.
The psoas moves the bones of the lower back, pelvis, and hip. However, our awareness of the use of the psoas is unconscious. Yoga reawakens our consciousness of this important muscle.
All yoga poses are enhanced by a released rather than a shortened psoas. Internal awareness that develops through yoga is the essential tool for learning to release the psoas. And releasing the psoas will bring new freedom, ease, and structural integrity to your yoga practice.
The psoas is intimately involved in the fight or flight response. A chronically tightened psoas continually signals your body that you're in danger, eventually exhausting the adrenal glands and depleting the immune system. As we improve our awareness of our psoas, we will also gain a greater sense of inner peace. A released psoas, combined with a stable pelvis, contributes to the sensations of feeling grounded and centred.
The psoas can compensate for structural imbalances in many ways. But if you continually contract the psoas to correct skeletal instability, the muscle eventually begins to shorten and lose flexibility. If you feel the strain in your knees or lower back in seated and standing poses, you may need to lengthen your psoas.
In addition to structural problems, a shortened psoas constricts the organs, putting pressure on nerves, interfering with the movement of fluids, and impairing diaphragmatic breathing. Finally, by limiting your options for movement and by constricting your centre, a shortened psoas decreases both your vitality and your connection to the sensations at your skeletomuscular and emotional core.
Emotional trauma or an ongoing lack of emotional support can also lead to a chronically contracted psoas, and thus to a loss of core awareness.
Yoga Poses To Awaken Your Psoas Muscle
These yoga poses activate and awaken the psoas muscle:
Vrksasana/Tree Pose is perfect for releasing the psoas, making sure we don’t lean into our hip above the straight leg and instead balance our weight directly over the bones of your leg.
Navasana/Boat Pose is especially good at strengthening the psoas because it demands that the muscles isometrically contract to hold up the weight of the legs and torso.
If the psoas is tight, the pelvis tilts forward and may compress the lower back. Anatomically, this is called hyperextension (commonly called "swayback"). Prolonged standing or sitting in this position increases pressure on the facet joints of the lower spine, which can contribute to arthritis in those joints.
Why I Love Yoga
Yoga has been an integral part of my journey. I think yoga is real medicine. I so often hear ‘Oh yoga is not for me, I can’t even touch my toes’. However, if you are unable to touch your toes, then it is definitely for you! With regular practice, the body will open and strengthen in places one has never been in touch with before.
This ancient practice is a personal journey of self-development experienced differently by everyone and by practising you will experience increased flexibility, mental clarity and physical strength enabling you to balance and juggle more things in life
"Yoga is multifaceted like a diamond! It means different things to everyone. For some, it is merely a system of physical exercise, weight management or stress relief. For others, it is a spiritual path and for some, it is simply a way of life!"
My preferred style of yoga is Jivamukti Yoga which has a strong focus on music. I find the upbeat music quietens my monkey mind allowing me to go deeper within myself. My flow is enhanced by music, which transforms my yoga practice into more of a dance. It uplifts my mind and body. My most memorable yoga experience was practising with Yogieswari in London.