The Psoas is:
Losing touch with your core can happen in myriad ways. You may be born with structural imbalances that eventually lead you to engage the psoas for support. All sorts of physical traumas can compromise the optimal, healthy functioning of your psoas: injuries to the pelvis or spine, surgery, broken bones and joint injuries in your feet and legs, even a torn ligament from overexuberant stretching in yoga. No matter what their source, muscular imbalances that compensate for injuries, overdeveloped muscles, and chronic muscular tension all add to structural instability that affects the psoas.
In addition, our living environment often does not support the proper use of the psoas. From car seats to constrictive clothing, from chairs to shoes that distort posture, many features of modern life curtail our natural movement patterns. In fact, a chronically tightened psoas may date back to your first steps. Baby shoes that constrict the foot, impair the movement of bones, or limit ankle mobility can alter a child's skeletal balance and stifle psoas vitality. Other child-rearing paraphernalia can add to the problem. Rigid plastic baby carriers limit movement, eliminating the natural protection and give-and-take of a mother's body, and playpens restrict the crawling essential for neuromuscular and skeletal maturation. Walkers give infants a false sense of stability, encouraging them to stand and walk before the bones are fully formed and ready to bear weight. Rushing development in this way teaches children to rely on their psoas muscles, rather than their skeletons, for support.
Either 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. If your fight/flight syndrome is triggered into constant arousal, eventually you lose contact with your inner world. One psoas workshop participant, for example, recalled her mother repeatedly admonishing her, "Look where you're going, young lady." Constantly receiving the message that her body couldn't be trusted led her into chronic anxiety. She realized she literally watched every step she took, forcing her skeleton to sag under the weight of a drooping head.
As an adult, learning to consciously release your psoas can rekindle vital energies by re-establishing your connection to your body's internal signals—your instinctual somatic wisdom. Releasing your psoas encourages this process by allowing you to trust your skeletal stability instead of holding yourself up by muscular effort. Sensing your bones supporting weight translates into a physical and emotional feeling of "standing on your own two feet." With a properly functioning psoas, the bones bear weight, the muscles move the bones, and the joints connect the subtle energies of the body. Energy flows through the joints, offering a sense of continuity, like the string flowing through a pearl necklace that transforms it into something more than the sum of its parts. The psoas, by conducting energy, grounds us to the earth, just as a grounding wire prevents shocks and eliminates static on a radio. Freed and grounded, the spine can awaken.
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