The psoas muscle is truly at the very center of the body, running down through the center of the torso behind the gut and in front of the spine, and connects the lumbar spine to the tops of our legs. Sedentary lifestyles are just as bad for this unique muscle as stress, and for many, an already sedentary lifestyle was compounded by being cooped up for quarantine last year. This kind of tension- the tension that comes from our primal instinct muscle, tends to have distinct downstream effects in that if our psoas is very tight, the rest of us tends to be too.
In a standard yoga class, whether it’s a traditional Ashtanga Primary or your favorite hot power hour, there is a formula to how the class is structured. There is a little warm-up with breathwork and stretching, some sun salutations to get your blood moving, and then the big hard stuff like the strength-building power poses, arm balances-you know, all the stuff of Instagram model fame. Other strength training modalities often use weights and movement to build muscle, but in yoga, we just use all of our muscles to stand still while we fight gravity. It’s a unique concept, that strength is in the stillness, that you can sweat and want to cry while simply stretching your hamstrings.