The Fascinating Psoas

The psoas muscles (major and minor) are the only muscles to join the upper body with the lower. The left and right psoas join the lumbar spine to the femur, thus joining the upper body with the lower body. This is quite a special function: think spiritually for a moment and the concept of linking the higher self with the earthy presence.

The psoas is at the core of our functioning  bodies, creating flexibility but also providing a deep stabilizer, “supporting the human body much like an arch does in building structures”. [1]

The psoas supports many of our internal organs or viscera. Think of it as a shelf for the intestines, kidneys, liver, spleen, pancreas and bladder. Any contraction of the psoas muscle will massage these organs, and due to the close proximity to them can “play a role as a reactor to these stimuli, thus affecting what is commonly termed as ‘gut feelings’.” [1]

The psoas meeting point is at the diaphragm at T12 or L1 (it can vary) and this junction in the body is known as the solar plexus. This area, a nerve network, is related to those ‘butterfly’ feelings we can get when we are nervous or excited. It is remarkable that the psoas muscle is also linked to the diaphragm and thus our breath, and those feelings which can effect the frequency of our breath such as nervousness, anxiety, excitement.

The psoas is one of the main muscles affecting the lower back, so with any lower back pain its condition warrants attention. Because of its deep central position, its closeness to our ‘gut feelings’ and our internal viscera, emotional tension can manifest in the psoas creating debilitating back pain and stiffness. If you suffer with lower back pain, ask yourself: do I feel supported in life? Am I worried/anxious/frightened? Is there a change forthcoming? Working through emotions is a key factor in dealing with back pain caused by the deep psoas, as well as finding the right balance of quality of motion and flow without restriction.

It is interesting to map the psoas muscles on the foot from a reflexology viewpoint. You can see that the psoas covers the medial arch of the foot, which is hugely important in supporting and maintaining posture and gait. It covers a very large area of the foot which only highlights (in my opinion) of its huge importance in our lives, providing support in a physical, mental and spiritual perspective. If you suffer with lower back pain, why not try reflexology or self-treat by massaging the area in red shown on the foot map?

I have been on a personal journey with this muscle. Emotional tension building up this year put me in a debilitating situation with such terrible back pain and restricted motion. It was only when discovering the psoas muscle and its functions and representations did I manage to heal myself and come through the dark and into the light.

Liz Koch says “the psoas is no ordinary muscle but a profound segue into the rich, inner and outer world of awareness and consciousness.”

[1] The Vital Psoas Muscle: Connecting Physical, Emotional and Spiritual Wellbeing by Jo-Ann Staugaard-Jones

Jackie Marsden MAR is a qualified reflexologist, promoter of healthy living and independent consultant (Team Leader) for Neal’s Yard Remedies Organic. Jackie leads and mentors a growing team of consultants (many of whom are therapists integrating organic products into their existing businesses) via the NYRO social selling channel, holding regular team meetings, one-to-one coaching via phone and facetime, and a closed facebook group. All views are my own.

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[Yoga Series #4] Essential Oils for Yoga

I’m not a big fan of incense. I don’t like the burning or the smell. Its just my personal preference. Of course if I’m practising yoga as part of a class then I don’t complain; I’m not that adverse to it. However when I’m at home during my self-practise I prefer to diffuse essential oils.

ID-100120457Using a diffuser, the essential oils are diffused into the yoga practice space to create an inspiring and motivating mood and to enhance breathing.

The successful practice of yoga requires some motivation and dedication.  Yoga is a journey to a balanced body that is properly aligned with mind and spirit (yoga means union). Incorporating the intensely therapeutic properties of essential oils into the practice can help for a fulfilling journey. The following essential oils and benefits can help make yoga practice a much more unifying experience of body, mind and spiritual well-being. [1]

Vetiver, ginger and patchouli will be grounding and earth-connecting, while sandalwood and cedarwood are stabilizing, strengthening and centring. All of these essential oils will help with balance and stability in the yoga poses. A great blend for this is the Aromatherapy Blend – Vitality.  Energising ginger and clove help a depleted system recuperate, giving you essential support and vitality when you need it most. A pure essential oil blend which brings renewed vigour for life.

Myrrh, frankincense, eucalyptus and rosemary encourage the flow of energy and self-expression while helping you achieve steady, deep inhalations and exhalations. As I explained in my previous blog, the breathing process is hugely important to successful yoga practice in order to support the spine during the poses. [1]

Frankincense and Myrrh aromas have been used throughout time as aids for spiritual transcendence and peace, to manifest Heaven on Earth.  Frankincense is an excellent oil for yoga as it is fantastic for the respiratory and nervous systems. [3]

Myrrh is known to unite Heaven and Earth in a person, the spiritual with the physical. It is aromatherapy for manifestation of the spiritual in oneself.  Like with Frankincense, Myrrh works therapeutically on the nervous system, to calm the mind and instil tranquillity. It is an aroma to bring peace and inner stillness. Also like Frankincense it is also a very earthy aroma. Both Frankincense and Myrrh are ideal in supporting the philosophy of yoga! [3]

Lavender, geranium and chamomile are calming and relaxing. Try the Aromatherapy Blend – Women’s Balance, especially good for balancing our emotions relating to our female cycles.

FocusBergamot, lemon and orange are all citrus oils and can provide an uplifting and energising sense to the practice. Try the Aromatherapy Blend – Focus to help you take your mind into the body for those more challenging poses, focus on your breathing and even help you onto the mat in the first place (I know I sometimes need some encouragement!)

Neroli and ylang ylang promote transcendence and spiritual expression. Try the Aromatherapy Blend De-Stress to transport you to a place of tranquillity. This one is a favourite of mine for yoga, as it smells very earthy and deep.

[1] https://www.auracacia.com/community/be-inspired/how-to-use-essential-oils-in-your-yoga-practice

[2] http://www.yogabasics.com/connect/yoga-blog/using-essential-oils-in-your-yoga-practice/

[3] http://www.care2.com/greenliving/frankincense-and-myrrh.html

Image courtesy of Worakit Sirijinda at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Jackie Marsden MAR is a qualified reflexologist, promoter of healthy living and independent consultant (Team Leader) for Neal’s Yard Remedies Organic. Jackie leads and mentors a growing team of consultants (many of whom are therapists integrating organic products into their existing businesses) via the NYRO social selling channel, holding regular team meetings, one-to-one coaching via phone and facetime, and a closed facebook group. All views are my own.

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