Yoga Therapy Articles

The Psoas Muscle & Motherhood

Mums & The Psoas Muscle

I woke up this morning with the intention of writing about the Psoas Muscle.

The Muscular-Skeletal Module of the Yoga Therapy Diploma is coming up in June, so I guess it is natural that such a vital muscle comes to my mind.

The Psoas muscle is the true “core” muscle, and it needs to be balanced, stable, strong yet flexible and supple. The Psoas muscle connects and creates movement and flow, and studies show that its health might have an impact on our emotional state.

As I sit in my bed, writing, my teenage daughter lies next to me. She has not been feeling well in the past couple of days, and I have had to adapt my work schedule to her health needs. I had to stay up all night when she had pain, keeping calm as I saw her struggle, yet strong enough to make decisions that made sense to keep the situation stable.

In fact, I think I am a psoas muscle…and it must be in the family. When I think about it, my mother was also a psoas muscle.

The psoas muscle

The deep, stabilizing force

Even though my dad was perhaps the “strongest”, the most “solid” and the “driving power”, underneath there was a stabilizing, subtle force that kept us all together, loved, well-fed and clean.

This deep connecting element listened, and somehow already knew what was going on before anyone realized. It moved in mysterious ways that may have seemed simple and straightforward at the time but actually had really meaningful, deep, life consequences.

If you are mum yourself, you have had a mum, or you know anyone who is a mum, you might know about this subtle, deep force of nature.

Now that I am a mother myself, I start to appreciate what my own mum did for us…our kids can test our boundaries and our “inner teacher” resources to the limit.

Before and after

Before child came along, I had lots of energy, I was free, and the world was in my hands. I looked at the future as if it was mine, and I could stay in bed on a Sunday morning without further worry than how I was going to build that future.

“After child”, Sundays disappeared and tiredness crept in. My biggest plan was going to bed early, and pray that she wouldn’t wake up in the night. Now that she is a teenager I still stay up, waiting for her to come home on a Saturday night.

When you are pushed in all directions, your inner stability might suffer, and you start doubting your own sanity.

“Am I a good mum, is she going to be ok, did I put enough vegetables in her lunch box?”…then, the answer to all these questions brings something previously unknown to me:  GUILT (sorry about the capital letters, but this is exactly how it feels):

-Oh god, fish made me sick when I was pregnant so I didn’t eat enough Omega 3 and that’s why she’s hyperactive!!

-I forgot to order her contact lenses so she will not be able to study (as if it would depend on this)

-I didn’t check her for lice and the school will call me (this was actually not the reason why the school called me)….

It is all my fault.

The Psoas muscle

Yoga Therapy for mums

Recently, a client sent me a message. She was really distressed and upset because she had shouted at her 10-year-old…I actually took my time to answer this. If I invite her to join the screaming mothers club, would I be classified as an insensitive yoga therapist?

The truth is, I really felt for her, and for her son. The Psoas muscle was out of balance, over-worked, tired and tight, and had lost the ability to keep her stability and the connection to those around her.

Sometimes, when I do a client assessment, I write in my notes the word “mum!!!”, so I know what I am going to be dealing with. Your client might be a rocket scientist, but if she is a mum of a Zero to a Twenty-year-old, she will be struggling.

In these cases, I tend to guide our yoga therapy sessions toward breathing movements, lying down stretches, ground exercises for pelvic stability and rest, and restorative yoga.

When I ask the question “who takes care of you?”, almost every time I get an emotional answer. No one, really.

As they lie down on the mat, supported by cushions and blankets, I guide them in the start of Yoga Nidra with the following words:

 “This is time for yourself, and only for yourself, to be taken care of. You are in a safe place, a friendly space where you don’t have to do anything for anyone. All you have to do now is lie down, and feel the ground underneath you. Feel the earth, as you rest on it, holding you and supporting you”.

 In these powerful words, we find the elements of safety, support, rest, care, protection, and grounding, which mothers need so much for themselves, as this is what they offer to others.

The Psoas muscle

I love this photo from years ago. Me and my daughter, with my mum -the gentle stabilizing force- in the background…

Depleted, exhausted mums find it even hard to love. If children are our future, we need to take care of their mothers.

A friend of mine who leads an important NGO in Third World Countries once told me that, as policy, they always give money and food supplies to the women of the community, because they pass it on to the kids. They are the Psoas muscle of society.

Today is Mother’s day. However, I hope this article on human anatomy inspires you every day of the year…and I promise we will really talk about the Psoas muscle,…another time.

With love,