I have been working for the past few weeks on the Psoas muscle with Perri at Living Yoga Studios, and it’s a lot of hard work! Its health is so vitally important to the overall of our wellbeing, as not only is it responsible for helping us stay upright, its tightness can also be causing knee problems, neck and shoulder tightness, and lower back pain. And when we say “engage your core”, this is what we are talking about!
As with any other muscle group, you have to first release it, stretch it, and then finally able to strengthen it. Strengthening a chronically tight muscle will only encourage continued bad form, and not positive changes to correct it. But gaining access to the Psoas can be quite very difficult. If you are interested, the book we are using is called “The Psoas Book” by Liz Koch.
Something else I have been working on is my back. I have a hyper-flexed lumbar spine (lower back), and a straighter than normal thoracic curve (upper back). What this means is I can wear high heals without hurting my lower back (I still don’t because it’s bad for my feet), and my worst enemy is downward facing dog.
Yup, you heard right, I can’t do the “picturesque” down dog without rounding my lower back : ( So for me it’s all about keeping the hips steady, stabilizing the back, and bending my knees deeply. I really appreciate learning this from Perri because it used to be so awkward and strenuous on my upper back when I try to do down dog.
BAD: when I get my feet to the ground like this, see how rounded my lower back is? BAD BAD BAD! Downdog is never about getting your heels to the ground, but working on having a nice flat back first!
GOOD: when I bend my knees, and it feels so much better! Yes I know it’s not picture perfect, but who cares? It’s perfect for my body and what I can do now. Alignment before achievement!
So, the two important things I’ve learned:
1. Just because you can do it, doesn’t mean you should!
2. When you know better, you do better : )
Here’s a sample of my work on flattening my back in preparation for Handstand and Forearm Stand. A happy back makes a happy yogi! Oh and a cute kitty helps too!