There are structural theories and therapies relating to our anatomy. And there are energy theories and therapies. So far the two have been evolving in parallel, without much conscious interconnection. Yet since people are both structure and energy, it is common sense to say you are addressing health incompletely if you only work with structure or energy! It is imperative for our clients’ health and growth that we learn how to work simultaneously with structure and energy. This is the essence of the work I teach. People need to know – in their very bones – that the full range of their experience is honored.
So how does this relate to the iliopsoas, its neighbors, and how to approach them? First, let’s look at some fascinating facts that establish the structural centrality of this muscle and the area it lives in.
Did you know that the psoas has two layers: superficial and deep? Between these two layers is embedded the lumbar plexus of the nervous system! It has been reported Ida Rolf believed the most important reason to work the psoas is to enliven the lumbar plexus.
Did you know the iliopsoas is (with piriformis) the only muscle running from the upper body to the lower body? The psoas is the muscle which initiates every step you take. The psoas originates as high as T12 and interweaves at its origin with the diaphragm! So working the psoas activates the experience that each step originates from a place as high as your diaphragm!
Forward flexion of the trunk is the single most devastating postural distortion. The rectus abdominis and, deep to it, the iiliopsoas are the primary muscles that, when they are lengthened, provide the most direct way to restore length to the front torso.. Most therapists are reluctant to address the abdomen in any detail, yet it is the most structurally significant area of the entire body!!!
The iliopsoas attaches not only to the vertebral bodies but also to the intervertebral discs. So, by addressing the psoas, you help prevent disc compression and make a healthier context for healing disc injuries.
Now let’s explore the energetic world of the iliopsoas. By its span and unique relation to the thigh, the pelvis, the back and abdomen, the psoas contributes to the coordinated actions of the first, second, and third chakras. This means that the psoas and its environs are vital to grounding, healthy sexuality, life excitement, and self-support. The center of our energetic world lies nearly at the intersection of the psoas and iliacus. Asian medicine understands this place as the origination place for our energy—the “hara” or “tan-tien.”
The realm of the psoas is therefore not only the origination for every step you take, but also the origination point for the forward movement of your life. It is literally and figuratively the center of your structural and energetic world!