I am very pleased to post this article by dance and somatic practitioner Lee Bolton on her work with the Psoas muscle. Lee's gentle experiential movement sessions have informed my own work as a therapist; they have also given me amazing insights for my own personal development, inspiring me to engage in exercises aimed at rebalancing my body through targeting this fascinating core deep muscle. Please enjoy a great simple exercise in her video at the end. Here's what she writes:
'My exploration of the Psoas began as part of on going embodiment enquiry but became more interesting as I started experiencing difficulty in my own body. I have been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and am also hyper mobile so my functional stability changes from day to day.
Beginning to work with the Psoas regularly was a revelation as it not only helped to alleviate pain and discomfort it also helped to settle my mood and emotions which were being deeply effected by ongoing pain. This is when I began to get really interested in how the Psoas can impact us on many different levels.
As a mover, dancer and also complementary therapist I approach working with the body in a holistic way, I experience the Psoas as a particularly holistic part of our anatomy. The Psoas senses, in my understanding, almost reading the environment and offering adjustments to the body in response. Letting me know, if I miss it, that something is too much. And in turn responding also to what is happening in the body - thoughts, moods, nervous system. Being part of the fight or flight mechanism is able to move the body into action if the need arises. The Psoas, when we are rested and responsive in the body, also acts like our grounding cord allowing energy, in the form of emotions and stress to flow through us and into the earth like a conduit in an electrical circuit. Allowing life experiences to pass through us in a harmonious flow.
Because our relationship to stress has changed dramatically in our evolution as a species, and how each of us inhabits our body is vastly different depending on our up bringing, life experiences and hereditary, the Psoas is functioning in an array of different flavours from well to challenged. It is often activated and stimulated by things we don't consider a big deal and over time if we are continuously managing our responses to ‘get on’ this can begin to create issues in the Psoas’ ability to function as it should.
In my own exploring of how the Psoas impacts the body, I have come to understand that many folk want to sort the ‘tight’ Psoas because it’s either painful or restricting movement. But in my own work with it I have come to see asking ‘why is it causing problems’, to be a better question if you want to have better and longer lasting results.
It is possible that there are a combination of physical, emotional, and psychological elements involved, even if the actual pain came from a particular event. We could say this about any part of our body however the distinction is the sensitivity the psoas has in sensing the environment.
Beginning to work with the Psoas, for me, means beginning to come into relationship with how I am in my life. The Psoas acts like a messenger (you might have heard this before!) letting us know that there is something more we need to look at besides offering some support physically to release, lengthen and strengthen the Psoas directly - which is helpful and a big part of building overall resilience. By working with enquiry through movement we can begin to build a relationship with the psoas discovering both physical challenges and qualities, along with learning what it has to tell us through allowing time for emotion and feelings to be present as well.
Where are we pushing ourselves in our lives? Is a situation in life too much and needs to be adjusted? Do you need help meeting a challenging thought that keeps going round and round in your head for ever? All of these things can have, over a life time, a subtle but accumulating effect on how the Psoas is responding to stress on the whole, its ability to conduct our emotional state and relate to our nervous system in a healthy way.
The work I use to explore the Psoas comes from a number of different sources, along with my own research, include - Liz Koch - biodynamic - allowing the body to unfold and guide the exploration, Donna Farhi -mechanic - exercise based, to improve functionality and Katy Bowman - biomechanics - getting to know your body and improve functionality in detail. I approach all of these perspective from an enquiry basis, I don't think there is a wrong way, more the best way for each body.
But it is about getting to know that best way for ‘your’ body.'
I work with movement, dance and somatics as an enquiry into the present moment. Fascinated by dance as a metaphor for life I have used enquiries into space and form, connection and relationship, experiential anatomy, somatic movement, Contact Improvisation and self enquiry as vehicles to explore on the dance floor, life, with freshness moment to moment. www.embodiedpresence.co.uk