Yoga for Fear & Anxiety: Introducing the Psoas Muscle or “The Muscle of Your Soul”
Updated: Apr 24, 2021
As we begin to embrace the new chapter which is 2021, let’s reflect a little bit about how you are feeling now that the dust from 2020 has started to settle.
The last 12 months have been filled with so much unknown, that studies have shown an influx of people feeling concerned over their current state of emotions, such as deep-rooted fear and anxiety. The feeling of a lack of control or a greater sense of the “unknown” can often trigger such emotions. Shifts in a “normal” lifestyle have people questioning their future, as well as anxiety centering around loss and grievance of all types.
Mental health care is incredibly beneficial during such challenging times. Fear and anxiety actually can go beyond your thoughts alone. In fact, these emotions may be trapped in your core muscles. Emotional trauma may begin to show up as physical signs as time goes on. Experiencing lower back pain for no apparent reason, digestive issues, or a bloated stomach (unrelated to food intake). These are potential signs that your body is feeling threatened and may be stuck in the ‘fight or flight’ primal response. The primal response which is designed to keep us feeling protected and safe from harm is not healthy if we remain there long-term.
The PSOAS muscle (pronounced SO-as), also known as “The Muscle of the Soul” lies deep within our core. This muscle is often overlooked and often confused for just tight hips. According to Yoga International, this “deep-seated core muscle connecting the lumbar vertebrae to the femur” is part of your hip flexors, along each side of the spine. The psoas can become tight when overstressed with emotions or from sitting at a desk all day. This can lead to a shortened psoas muscle which then triggers fear and anxiety, so the cycle begins.
In yoga we often work on breathwork, mediation, and poses to help us stay emotionally and physically balanced. Other times yoga can be more focused as a holistic approach, learning to slow things down and work on the isolated muscle at large. When a muscle is in need of rest or healing, it’s time to take a break from overstretching and a regular exercise routine. Instead, it’s time to rest and repair, which we can achieve through gentle breathwork and practicing a restorative yoga pose for 10-15 minutes (focusing on your psoas muscle).
Constructive Rest Pose or CRP
On your yoga mat or the floor, begin by laying on your back. With your legs hip-width apart, bend your knees and keep your feet glued to the mat. Do not flatten your lower back, leave the natural curve in your spine. Place one hand on your heart and one on your abdomen. Lay in this position for 10-15 minutes before bed (or multiple times throughout the day).
CRP will help to relax your psoas muscle naturally. When the muscle relaxes, it helps to release the fear and anxiety, as your body realizes it no longer needs to remain in the ‘fight or flight’ response mode. You can practice breathing exercises or meditate as you rest. This allows the diaphragm to relax (more psoas healing).
Your “Muscle of the Soul” will thank you for taking the time to remember everything is connected — mind, body, and spirit.