Podcast: Episode 180: The Power Of Pure Movement: Helping Your Psoas Heal Part 3

Welcome to part three of my four-part series, "Helping Your Psoas Heal." Join me as we unpack the relationship between breath and the psoas. I share a movement and breath practice to bring awareness to your body and your breath and strengthen their connection.

This week we look closely at the anatomy of the psoas and the diaphragm. I share the analogy of a pump to understand the use of breath within our body and to identify tension found within the psoas (and other areas).

Breath directly affects tissue tension. I have found again and again that breathing issues are linked to psoas pain. Discover methods for moving your breath, releasing the psoas, and finding more sensitivity within your body. This episode is a great way to start any movement practice while focusing on the psoas. 

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What You'll Learn from this Episode:

  • How to improve your connection and sensitivity meter.
  • Why breath is linked to psoas pain.
  • Movement practices to release the psoas.
  • How to pause and stay with a feeling.

Full Episode Transcript:

Male Announcer: You’re listening to From Pain to Possibility with Susi Hately. You will hear Susi’s best ideas on how to reduce or even eradicate your pain and learn how to listen to your body when it whispers so you don’t have to hear it scream. And now here’s your host, Susi Hately.

Welcome and welcome back to From Pain to Possibility, a podcast that helps you reduce and eradicate physical pain for yourself and your clients. I'm your host, Susi Hately, and I'm so happy to be here because today I continue my conversation on the psoas. This is a continuation of my last few episodes where I spoke about supporting the psoas from the seven R’s, rest, symptom relief, renewing inner awareness, retraining your muscular patterns, rekindling brain body connection, and refining new patterns and growing resiliency.

I have also, as a reminder, spoken about the psoas in earlier episodes. Episode 14 about the sacred, subtle, and powerful aspects of the psoas, and also Episode 62 about integrating psoas release that you can get from a body worker. And how so often when you get a psoas release, it doesn't really last for long, but how can you have the work that's done by the body worker last longer.

Now collectively, these episodes highlight how the psoas is also a strongly compensatory muscle. It swoops in to support in areas that it's not designed for. While it's helpful in the short term, the key is we really need to improve connection and our own sensitivity meter, improving the way that our ribs and pelvis connect. When you do those things, you can make a lot of gains in how your psoas functions and feels.

So to build upon those previous episodes, today, I want to dig into the impact of breathing on the psoas from two perspectives. The first is the proximity of the psoas to the diaphragm. So we'll look at the anatomy briefly. Then also the body as a mechanical pump and how that can impact how your psoas feels.

First looking at the anatomy, I liken this psoas to being a snuggler, cuddling into the spine. The image for the thumbnail of this podcast episode shows this proximity of the psoas with the diaphragm. I remember even being in the cadaver lab many, many, many, many years ago, and seeing just how close this relationship is and how closely connected, depending on the body that we were looking at, how closely connected it was to the crura of the diaphragm. So there really is a strong connection between the psoas and the aspects of the diaphragm.

So when we consider this anatomy, and we consider the related function, when we consider the impact of held breathing on ourselves physiologically and the added tension gripping embracing patterns that come from held breath, and how things just don't move well. We don't breathe as well.

I liken the body to a mechanical pump. So how the body is held, how the tissue is held has an impact on how we are breathing. So even though our breathing in and breathing out, that's happening quite naturally, quite organically through pressure change and vacuum shifting. But really like how all that happens, like the amount of air that comes in and then turns into breath and how effectively it all works.

Time and time again, when my clients learn to soften their bellies, free up their ribs, so much changes relatively speaking to the tension through their abdomen and the fluidity of their breath. How they feel in the area of the psoas changes so much.

So even though I can't state quite specifically here is the study to show this to be so, I have decades of experience watching this change in front of my eyes. How we breathe is impacted by what is going on in terms of our tissue tension through our bellies, through our ribcage. It changes the ability of how we bring air in and how air goes out.

So what's interesting is even though while this podcast episode is focusing on the psoas, rarely haven't met a client who has a diagnosed or self-diagnosed psoas issue who also doesn't have a breathing issue of sorts. So whether it's limited breathing, or there's an actual breathing disorder, or whether there's tension, held tension, around the solar plexus between the ribs, around the shoulder blades, into the jaw, the SI, hips, knees, or the plantar side of their foot. When we can really support them in relaxing the system, as it settles, the tissue can release, tension can dissipate.

It feels like, for a lot of my clients, like there's been some space given and then pain can drop. For the recuperation and the recovery process for psoas, this piece around this relaxation and settling is so incredibly vital. I know I can say that about any muscle, but for the psoas, it has such an impact.

Placing legs over bolster, placing them over a chair, allowing yourself to be in a really lovely, restful, sometimes called corrective rest position. Leg bones settling into the pelvis. Really allowing your body to sink into the floor, not forcing the breath, but keeping it easy and fluid to the best of its and your ability can change so much. Let's just try this out.

So find yourself in a comfortable position, ideally on either your side or on your back. If you need bolster or pillow support underneath your legs, then do that. Place a hand or two on your belly and feel this area of your abdomen. Feel as if there's a boat on water and the waves are taking you up and then bringing you down. So as the air comes in, so expands your body. As the air goes out, the air comes out, the air comes out. Ribcage returns to start. Abdomen returns to start.

Notice where you are feeling the breath moving in your body. I sometimes will teach a client and say where do you feel your breath being open, i.e. moving your body. So you're not using your breath to move your body, but where are you naturally feeling the breath move your body. So what's expanding on inhale, what's dropping on exhale. Is it your belly or your ribs? Is it more the front of your ribs or the side of your ribs? Maybe you feel the air coming in through your nose.

There's really nothing to do here except notice. Then do your best to simply be with that which you notice. It's so common that we feel something that's not right, and then we have an instant desire to change it. The more and more clients of mine that I am teaching how to simply be with what is and not jumping into an attempted solution.

The actual solution that is going to be that much more helpful arises if you can just stay with the feeling a little bit longer. So just notice where your breath is. Notice what you're feeling.

Then as you breathe, notice your pelvis and notice your legs. You might even feel like your legs can sink into your pelvis. Like wooden telephone poles into your pelvis, and your pelvis is like mud. You might be able to feel your body getting imprinted into the floor or whatever else you're laying on.

Then notice how you're able or not able to breathe into your pelvis. So feel your pelvic bowl, the two sides of your pelvis and the pelvic floor. What I find really interesting on my own self is when I am more limited in through my pelvis, I'll feel the breath kind of hitting up against an area that might be a bit tense or tight feeling, but I don't try and push it. I don't try and open it. I don't try and change it. Just let the breath come up to that area.

So if there's a wall there, just let the breath come up and meet the wall. We don't need an argument with whatever feels tight or tense, but rather just feel what's there. Then just notice what begins to shift or change. Then bring your attention back to your belly. Notice how your belly is moving with your breath now. If anything is new or different.

Bring your attention to your ribcage and notice if anything is new or different. So it might be that your body feels different. It may be that the quality of your breath feels different, or the quantity of breathing changes. So just notice any of those other characteristics that may have changed. It's not that we're seeking the change. It's more just noticing if change arose.

Because ultimately, an exercise like this is giving your system the opportunity to change the environment within which the psoas is residing in. Then, if you have any specific psoas related exercises that you've been doing for yourself, now start to do them starting from this state. The seven R’s that I spoke about in the previous two episodes, notice how they are showing up for you as you begin to move into the exercises that you've been doing, or even in the practices that I offered in the previous episodes, and how those interrelate and feeling your body now.

You can take this practice on for as long as you would like. When you're ready, do take about five or six breaths before shifting gears and moving on with the rest of your day.

If this has resonated with you and you want more of my help, I am running Power of Pure Movement, your grounded and light psoas on July 11. If you'd like my help, you can read more about that program at learn.functionalsynergy.com/psoas. I would love to see you there. See you next time.

Enjoy the Show?