Yoga Poses for the Psoas

February 13, 2012 by  
Filed under Yoga Articles

The psoas major muscle is a bilateral, deep core muscle connecting each leg to the torso. The psoas becomes tight when we spend a lot of time sitting at desks and in cars. A tight psoas leads to a weak core, which can cause back pain and other muscular-skeletal problems. Yoga poses that strengthen and lengthen the psoas are a good remedy. Balancing poses help increase core strength, and the psoas in particular. Backbends are a great way to stretch, and thereby lengthen, the psoas. The following recommended poses are adapted from Leslie Kaminoff’s great book Yoga Anatomy.

1. Tree Pose – Vrksasana

© Barry Stone

This basic standing balance will begin to strengthen the psoas, which works on the side of the lifted leg.

2. Standing Big Toe Pose – Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana

© Barry Stone

A particularly good pose for the psoas as it combines balancing with bringing the lifted leg toward the body. You can use a strap around the lifted foot if you can’t reach your toe, or keep the leg slightly bent.

3. King Dancer – Natarajasana

© Barry Stone

As the back leg is lifted and brought into position for the backbend, the psoas is stretched.

4. Warrior I – Virabhadrasana I

Warrior I - Virabhadrasana I© Barry Stone

The psoas is lengthened on the back leg as the torso is stretched away from the leg.

5. Boat Pose – Navasana

© Barry Stone

The psoas works here to bring the legs and spine into a V position while keeping the spine long and the legs straight. If you begin to lose the V, bend the legs at the knees to draw the torso up again.

6. Camel Pose – Ustrasana

© Barry Stone

In camel, the psoas works to support the lower spine and is also lengthened by the backbend.

7. Reclined Hero Pose – Supta Virasana

Reclined Hero Pose - Supta Virasana© Barry Stone

The forward motion of the lower body countered with the backward motion of the upper body make this a good stretch for the midsection, including the psoas.

8. Crow Pose – Bakasana

© Barry Stone

In crow, the psoas works to hold spine in the correct position and bring the legs toward the torso.

9. Wheel Pose – Urdhva Dhanurasana

© Barry Stone

A strong stretch for the midsection, particularly the psoas. If wheel is too intense, you can get a similar stretch in bridge pose.

10. Handstand – Adho Mukha Vrksasana

© Barry Stone

In handstand, the psoas is one of the key muscles keeping the spine in an upright position, resisting the “bananaing,” or over extension of the low back.

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