Q: I was so happy to find your corewareness website. I started practicing yoga on a very regular basis about a year ago. For the first several months I saw massive improvements in my flexibility, but suddenly I hit a wall and then quickly began losing ground. I thought my problem was in my hamstrings. Only recently did someone tell me the muscle causing me problems is my psoas. It’s been very frustrating.
A: The connection I see between stretching and psoas dysfunction happens when a stretch pulls on the delicate SI joints. Once Proprioception is disturbed in the joints from either locking joints (often used as a way of finding stabilization in a pose) or when a ligament has been inappropriately stretched, the core muscle the iliopsoas becomes involved. The tight iliopsoas is a primal messenger of the central nervous system letting you know that skeletal alignment has been compromised.
You have an injury that needs addressing. I recommend resting in constructive rest before and after yoga. Go slow in a stretch and limit your range. Make a balanced pelvis your mantra. In other words know that your pelvis is balanced i.e. not twisted, torqued or dipped.
The psoas gets involved in stabilizing the spine when the skeletal system is not aligned. Decreasing your range of motion and not pushing through any muscular barrier or pain will help you become more internally aware. Use your attention to explore your tension patterns and like water moving through a stream, see what is flowing within you.
Your awareness can assist you in discovering what is going on and it will be your guide. Core Awareness: Enhancing Yoga, Pilates, Exercise, and Dance explains the problems inherent in stretching when one goes too deep, too fast with too little awareness.