New information about the direction of our lives comes when we are in harmonious alignment with our source. The body and mind are the intricately connected feedback mechanisms which, when properly aligned, are a perfect conduit for the wisdom of all ages to be expressed freely through our physical and mental form.
While I practice yoga every day and pay special attention to my posture, I am always open to greater understanding which can help me to deepen my practice. Recently my attention was captured by my psoas muscles where they cross the front of the hips. During meditation, I noticed that these muscles were obstructing the free flow of energy through my body.
So when I was invited to a mind/body movement class by Debbie Barrera, owner of Aadara, I readily accepted. The class was based on the Franklin Method which uses visualization to train the mind for the proper moving alignment for our bones, joints and muscles.
During an exercise to direct our minds to the movement of the sacrum, the instructor Tracie Horsely of Franklin Method So Cal noticed that when I lifted my knees I had a habit of tucking my tailbone under. Once I became focused on keeping the natural curve of my sacrum while lifting my knees, the movement felt much more fluid and I was using my psoas muscles as they were meant to be used.
The psoas is the muscle group of the inner core and the only muscles that connect our upper body to the lower body. These muscles connect at the lumbar spine, run through the diaphragm, and down the front of the thighs to the inside of the upper femur.
When we sit, stand or engage in any standing exercises with the tailbone tucked under, the lower spine takes on an unnatural curve while the psoas is shortened and not fully engaged in the activity. When the psoas is repeatedly “along for the ride” in this manner, our body memorizes this posture, and the psoas gradually becomes static, creating weakness and tension.
The psoas muscles also connect directly to the diaphragm and assists in expanding the diaphragm on the inhale. Thus, when the psoas is less flexible, breathing is restricted.
So, while I had been tucking my tailbone during standing knee lifts (in order to lift my knee higher), my psoas was only a static participant in the exercise. This caused the psoas to shorten and become tense which left it susceptible to stagnation and injury while adversely affected the flow of breathing.
As soon as I became aware that this was occurring, I was able to consciously keep my tailbone properly aligned with my torso, and the psoas discomfort during knee lifts was alleviated while my breathing became smoother and more even.
During the class, I also learned how the top of the femur connects to the pelvis. As I continue to recall the proper alignment of these bones while walking, sitting, practicing yoga or any other activity, I can feel how my mind is being retrained to maintain healthy posture in the hips which in turn affects the health of the psoas and the entire body/mind.
Because of this experience, I walk lighter, breathe more deeply and my yoga and meditation practice has been greatly enhanced.
I have found the Franklin Method to be a very effective tool to align the body and allow energy to flow more freely.