Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth yoga, fitness, & nutrition courses, when you sign up for Outside+.
These poses help to awaken the psoas, activating different parts of the muscle so that it’s ultimately easier for the brain to fire it up.
Warrior Pose I
Warrior I helps to strengthen the psoas of the front leg while stretching the psoas of the back leg. Come into the pose as you typically would: feet 3 to 4 feet apart, back toes turned to a 45-degree angle from the back edge of your mat, with heel- to-heel alignment, front knee tracking over your second toe, arms raised skyward. Then, imagine lifting your front knee straight up toward the sky, as if you were flexing your hip. You won’t actually be able to lift your knee, but this action stimu- lates the psoas to contract, which should help you feel the pelvis stabilize. Hold this pose for 5 to 10 deep breaths on one side, and then repeat on the other side.
Extended Side Angle Pose
Similar to Warrior Pose I, this asana helps to strengthen the psoas of the front leg while stretching the psoas of the back leg. To move into the pose from Warrior I, turn your back foot so it’s parallel to the back edge of your mat—aiming for heel-to-arch align- ment—bring your front elbow to your front thigh, and extend your top arm over your head, toward the front of your mat. Now attempt to press the front elbow down against your thigh by flexing your trunk to the side. Relax for a moment, then attempt to lift your quad straight up against your elbow. Finally, combine the two actions simultane- ously. Neither your trunk nor your thigh will move in either of these actions, but you will feel your psoas muscle isometrically engage in your pelvis.
Full Boat Pose
While most of us think this pose is all about the abs, quite a bit of the work also happens in the legs and the psoas. In fact, Navasana is a great way to strengthen the psoas isometrically. Sit tall on your yoga mat with your knees bent and feet flat on the mat. Place your fingers on the floor to either side of your hips and use that light traction to lift your chest. Exhale and lift your feet off the floor so that your thighs are angled about 45 to 50 degrees relative to the floor. Stretch your arms alongside your legs, parallel to each other. Press the heads of your thighbones toward the floor to help anchor the pose and lift your sternum. Stay here for 5–10 full, easy breaths.
ABOUT OUR PROS
Teacher Ray Long, MD, is an orthope- dic surgeon in Detroit and the founder of Bandha Yoga, a website and book series dedicated to the anatomy and biomechanics of yoga. Model Caitlin Rose Kenney is a yoga teacher based in Boulder, Colorado.