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The psoas muscle –Anne Marie McGlinchey

I came across the following article some years ago and I feel it is very informative and of great interest both in the practice and teaching of yoga highlighting the interconnectedness between the mind, body and soul energies. In my kinesiology practice I have found the psoas muscle will always surface where there is emotional stress and postural weakness, as this muscle is part of the hip flexing group and helps to keep the lumbar curve in the spine. When this muscle is weak, lower back problems, kidney disturbances have always showed up. The origin of the muscle begins at T12, the level of the last rib and travels down all the lumbar vertebrae ending at the upper part of the thigh bone. The insertion point of the meridian for this muscle is the kidney meridian which begins under the foot and travels along the leg through the centre of the body reaching almost the collar bone, see diagrams below (from Touch for Health by John F. Thie).

The Muscle of the Soul by Brett Willbanks

The psoas major muscle (pronounced “so-as” is often referred to as the deepest core, or as yoga therapist and film-makes Danielle Olson states, the “muscle of the soul”. This core-stabilizing muscle located near the hip bone affects mobility, structural balance, joint function flexibility and much more. In addition to its function to help keep the body upright and moving, the psoas is believed to allow you to connect with the present moment especially when it is stretched out and tension is released from the body.

Research indicates that the psoas is vital to our psychological wellbeing in addition to structural health. Liz Koch, author of The Psoas Book, states that our psoas “literally embodies our deepest urge for survival and more profoundly, our elemental desire to flourish”. This means that there is a lot more to the psoas than one might initially think. It is entirely possible to harness healing pranic energy and improve mental health by keeping the psoas healthy.

Where is the Psoas?

The psoas is the principal muscle associated with physical stability. It stretches from the legs to the spine and is the only muscle connecting the legs to the spinal column. The muscle flares out from the T12 vertebrae, follows down the five lumbar vertebrae before attaching to the top of the thigh bone.

The Reptilian Connection

In addition to connecting the legs and spine the psoas is connected to the diaphragm. Breathing is modulated at the diaphragm and it is also the location where many physical symptoms associated with fear and anxiety manifest. Koch believes that this is due to the direct link between the psoas and the most ancient part of our brain stem and spinal cord, called the reptilian brain. According to Koch, “Long before the spoken word or the organising capacity of the cortex developed the reptilian brain, known for its survival instincts, maintained our essential core functioning”. The way we live today, constantly rushing, competing and achieving, has the psoas in a constant “fight or flight” state.

Issues Associated with Chronic Psoas Stress

Trapped in a constant “flight or fight” state, psoas muscles are stressed and constricted, almost from the time of birth. As Koch notes “this siltation is exacerbated by many things in our modern lifestyle, from car seats to constrictive clothing from chairs to shoes that distort our posture curtail our natural movements and further constrict our psoas”. This lifelong chronic stress put on the psoas can lead to many problems like back, hip or knee pain and even digestive issues and dysfunctional breathing. It could also be a major cause why people suffer from chronic physical pain.

The physical body is not the only part of you that suffers from a chronically stressed psoas. The psoas is much more than a muscle used for structural stability. It influences every element of life, from how you feel to how you look at the world and even how you treat others. A variety of problems have been associated with a chronically-stressed psoas muscle: it can negatively affect your emotional state; it can impact your interpersonal relationships and it can influence your general contentment with life. Awareness that a health psoas is important to emotional wellness, as well as physical health, is the first step towards ensuring that we give this muscle the attention it deserves.

Koch states “whether you suffer from sore back or anxiety, from knee strain or exhaustion there’s a good chance that a constricted psoas might be contributing to your woes”.

Fear and the Psoas

Since the psoas is closely linked to our “fight or flight” mechanism, fear can be over- represented in those with a constricted psoas.

It is an emotion that manifests itself in the most unusual ways and can “lock” itself into the body resulting in both physical and emotional tension. By restoring balance to your psoas muscles you are likely to release this pent up tension which can have a profound effect on releasing unfounded fearfulness about life and thus improve both your physical and mental wellbeing. You will feel a greater sense of inner peace, along with fewer muscle aches and strains.

The Connection to the Energetic Body

Lengthening and releasing your psoas grounds you to the Earth, which is filled with healing and revitalizing energy thus allowing you to balance your pranic energy and enabling you to feel more present in the moment. Proper structural stability attributed to a healthy psoas allows prana to flow, unimpeded throughout the body, allowing for proper distribution of vital energy. In the physical sense, when the body can properly support itself, movement is less restricted and requires less effort, thus leaving you more energetic.

Ancient Wisdom for Modern Times

Our understanding of the psoas is by no means new knowledge. In fact, it is more akin to ancient wisdom that was either lost or discarded over time. Yoga shows us explicitly that ancient gurus understood the importance of releasing contracted psoas muscles. Ancient yoga asanas, or postures, that are now practiced all around the world focus on lengthening and releasing psoas muscles and restoring comfort and balance to the entire body. With consistent practice you can learn how to isolate this muscle, which can be immensely useful and healing in the long run.

Yoga is also a great way to measure the current health of the psoas. There are many postures, such as tree (Vrksasana), this cannot be properly achieved if the psoas is contracted. If you are practicing a sitting or standing yoga pose and feel strain in either your knees or lower back (or both), then there’s a good chance that your psoas is constricted and needs more of your attention.

The psoas is an important, yet often unknown, muscle that plays a vital role in physical health and mental well-being. The cumulative effect of neglecting this muscle is physical and mental stress and tension, which manifests itself in our society as anxiety, depression, chronic back pain, knee pain, digestive distress respiratory problems, etc.



Yoga Therapy Ireland's Conference on “The Principles & Practice of Yoga in Healthcare, May 2023

Maureen Nightingale, Sat Bir Singh Khalsa, Anne-Marie McGlinchey, Dr. Donn Brennan and Paul Fox.

I recently attended Yoga Therapy Ireland's 2-day Conference on “The Principles & Practice of Yoga in Healthcare at which Anne-Marie presented on the second day. The main aim of the conference was to discuss the future of yoga in healthcare and how beneficial it is in the management of mental health care, communicable and non- communicable diseases and Integrative Medicine. There was a lot of theory in the presentations to absorb from all the different speakers but very little practical, which I felt could have been more beneficial. What came across strongly to me and to all the speakers was of course the benefits of the breath and the effect it has on our overall health and well-being. However, this was nothing new to me as a teacher and I realised that the foundation and grounding we get from Anne-Marie when we train as teachers equals and exceeds those of some of the most renowned international speakers in the field of yoga. The comments from people around me and those I spoke to afterwards were how wonderful and engaging Anne-Marie's presentation was and how lucky I was to have had her as my teacher.

Did I learn anything new I would have to say no. Did I find anything I would like to explore further yes, I found Connie Walsh's talk on Yoga in Cancer Care very good especially her few practical tips and I would certainly have liked more of that, and I also enjoyed Elma Toland's story on her personal experience as a yoga therapy teacher. However, I can still fly the flag for Yoga Society Ireland and affirm how thorough and all-encompassing the teacher training is. Will Yoga be part of healthcare anytime soon I don't know, but I think it is trickling in slowly but surely as it is beginning to penetrate schools both primary and secondary. Like meditation it will just take patience and time.

Catherine Sheridan

Anne-Marie with Prof. Padraic Dunne RCSI

YSI Residential Weekend's

@An Grianan, Co. Louth April 2023

YSI Residential Weekend -@An Grianan, Co. Louth April 2023


Breakfast ideas for Summer

I think you will find the following breakfast ideas by Edel Keaveney, Nutritionist, BSc PhD interesting. I’ve known Edel since she was born, her mother and I have been friends for 50 years. She is an expert in her field of nutrition and biomedical science. Anne-Marie


1. Porridge, made with milk.
+handful berries
+tsp ground flaxseed
+tsp sunflower/pumpkin seeds
+another serving of fruit (e.g., banana/apple/2 kiwis/pear)

2. Scrambled eggs
2 slices brown bread or 4/6 oatcakes
+1/2 eggs, scrambled.
+2 handfuls spinach, steamed/raw.
+1 tomato, chopped.

3. Banana & nut butter on bread
2 slices brown bread or 4/6 oatcakes
+ 2 tsp nut butter (peanut/cashew/almond)
+1 chopped banana
+another serving of fruit (e.g., 1 apple/2 kiwis/1 pear/small bowl berries)

Avocado on bread
2 slices brown bread or 4/6 oatcakes
+ half avocado mashed on top and
+pot of fruit yoghurt with teaspoon of sunflower/pumpkin seeds mixed in

5. Cereal flakes
Bowl of wholegrain cereal flakes with milk, handful of berries, chopped Brazil nuts

other options:

Eggs + smoked salmon
1 – 2 eggs scrambled/poached, with steamed spinach and slice of smoked salmon, served on whole meal bread/bagel toasted

Small bowl of muesli (no added sugar variety), with half a banana and milk. With one slice of whole meal toast with fresh crushed raspberries spread on top.

Podcasts/ Apps/Music/Books


Insight Timer:

The best meditation app with the world's largest FREE library of more than 170k guided meditations, 17k teachers & the world's most loved meditation Timer-

Download to phone or device here


Mantras in Love

Artist: Beautiful Chorus

Their introspective beautiful and deeply personal compositions remind listeners that the place within us all that place of complete peace is always available and always accessible.

Available to listen on Spotify/ iTunes or wherever you listen to music/podcasts


Soul bird Poems for Flying
By Deborah Anne Quilbell

Somewhere in the gap between the sacred and the profane, Deborah's poetry emerges to bring us into a more intimate relationship with the divine presence within and all around us. Her debut collection, SOUL BIRD, evokes a natural and accessible form of mysticism--each piece a poetic song of the soul, encouraging the heart of her readers (as well as her own) to awaken and take flight.
This book will bring the magic of mysticism back into your everyday life, help you to rise above self-imposed limitations, and cultural conditioning, and (re)inspire a holy pursuit of love and wonder that is only yours.

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