Deep Hip Flexors: The Mind Body Connection
Deep inside your core, you have an incredibly powerful muscle called your Psoas. It is responsible physically for keeping you upright and charging you forward, it’s contraction is the catalyst for your biggest movements of survival and instinct. Your psoas is what springs you into action during fight, or rolls you into a protective ball in flight.
It’s mind connection is rooted deeply in our most primitive, reptilian brain which is responsible for instinctive behavior and therefore it has a deep connection to our fear and stress response.
When our brain senses stress or fear, it engages the Psoas so that we can leap into action, perfect for jumping away from oncoming traffic! But you can imagine then, that this physical response to fear while eyeing the 500 emails in your inbox, creates unnecessary tension and energy in your Psoas, and can build to become pain, in particular lower back pain.
I do not believe that deep hip stretching is the answer to a Psoas restricted by stress. Instead, we need to find our Psoas through a deep intuitive connection, and from there breathe deeply and find softness deep in our hips and core. If you are super short through your Psoas from long periods of sitting or cycling etc, then some lengthening is absolutely going to help with healing! But in my opinion, without simultaneous releasing and relaxing it may not shift as powerfully for you.
A yoga pose such as Viparita Karani ( legs up a wall or resting on a chair) is a beautiful place to practice a deep release of the Psoas. Or if you would like to incorporate physical lengthening, then a supported bridge is a lovely healing pose for the front hips. Understanding the anatomy of this deep flexor will help you to feel into these poses.
To gather it all in; if you are experiencing lower back pain, digestive issues, abnormal menstrual pain and/or high levels of stress or constant low-level stress, then I invite you to feel deeply into your core, from the lower back through to your inner thighs, practice softening and letting go through this space, using deep breathing as your tool to guide you there.