I had a great time teaching the psoas workshop yesterday, and I have such admiration for the people who came and shared the experience!
We worked on releases and stretches for one of the deepest and hardest to “feel” muscle groups and it took concentration and a healthy dose of humble to do it. One of the participants joked that the class should be called Check Your Ego At the Door, and she’s not wrong….
We often feel compelled to go as far as we can in a stretch, in a job, in a workout, in our time management. It is rewarding to push yourself! The problem is that, as a wise teacher I had years ago used to say, “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” When you go into a stretch and some other part of your body hurts, the solution is not to hold that position and brace yourself in some other body part. The solution is to relax, back off the stretch and do less. Just because you can get your foot all the way to your butt in a quad stretch doesn’t mean you should, especially if you get back pain! Let your foot back off until your back is totally relaxed, use a strap to hold your ankle and know that you have found the boundary of your front chain muscles.
Instead of this:
You might find your body is happier with this:
The problem is that it’s hard on the ego. It means acknowledging that you are less flexible than you thought. It means going with a less intense, less satisfying sensation than you are accustomed to. It means backing off to meet your body where it really is and discovering your boundaries. That is hard core psoas work! It takes such focus and grace to let go, and I am so touched that the lovelies came and let me lead them through the workshop.
So what’s the payoff? Why go though this process instead of sticking with the way you usually do things?
The psoas connect to your back, your pelvis and your legs and affect the alignment of all those parts (and contribute hugely to back pain for many folks), they underlie the digestive system and affect how your body processes food, they underlie the female reproductive organs and affect menstrual cramps, they impinge on the ability of your hips to flex and extend smoothly, making walking and running difficult. That’s a lot of reason to let go of old patterns and have healthy, supple psoas!
By the end of the 2 hours, the consensus was that bellies were rumbling nicely as the abdominal space increased, emotions were letting go in a way that might be uneasy in the moment but would feel so much better later, and that walking felt smoother and easier. That’s a lot to accomplish in such a short time!
See if you can find one thing you do that has an uncomfortable element to it. Then, instead of keeping on with it and trying to force the discomfort away, see if you can just do less. Bolster yourself physically until you are safely held at the place where your muscles can release onto length. Instead of having another coffee to get you through the day, schedule one thing less. Or close the door and have a nap! Give yourself the opportunity to recognize the places where you push past your boundaries and that will lead to the opportunity to make real, lasting change.