According to recent research, yoga should be prescribed for people with long-term lower back pain to ease discomfort and increase mobility in the spine. I have experienced how yoga has helped my lower back get stronger and more flexible, and I believe the reason for this is that I have (unknowingly) been working on my psoas!
I just attended a 5-day workshop with the yoga teacher Donna Fahri where we learnt about the deep abdominal muscle called the psoas. In short, work on your psoas to release it, make it strong and long, and you may find yourself with less back pain.
One of the reasons for the importance of the psoas is that it is an abdominal muscle located closer to the spine than any of the other abdominal muscles. It is 40 cm long and runs down on both side of the spine, from T12 to L5, and then further down the front of the pelvis on both sides. It attaches to the lesser trochanter (inner groin) on the inside of the right and left upper thighs. Many people have strong abdominal muscles but are not accessing the psoas muscle in their training, so may still find themselves with lower back pain. Their psoas might be tight or weak due to bad overall posture over a long period of time.
As described by Donna Farhi in her new book “Pathways to a Centered Body”, the psoas is a “unifying structure connecting the upper body to the lower body, the back body to the front body, the axial skeleton (spine and pelvis) to the appendicular skeleton (legs and arms), and the core to the periphery”.
To conclude: The location of the psoas is at the deep core of the body. It works as a unifying structure. Sorting out the psoas muscle through targeted yoga postures – by releasing it, balancing it on both sides of the body, and making it long and strong – can have amazing effects on the health of your spine, and may be the best treatment you can give your lower back!