last week in yin yoga class, as I was in the middle of a deep lunge pose and holding for an excruciating five minutes, my teacher Kira Ryder started talking about the psoas muscle. psoas is defined as: each of a pair of large muscles that run from the lumbar spine through the groin on either side and, with the iliacus, flex the hip.
as we were opening our hips and trying to stay connected to our breath through the five minute lunge pose, Kira reminded us to relax the jaw. The famous words of a yoga teacher: relax the jaw…relax the jaw…then she said the psoas muscle is intimately connected to the jaw. what? the psoas muscle is intimately connected to the jaw. I was stunned. I’d heard it before, but I was hearing it for the first time. the psoas muscle is intimate with the jaw. I felt a rush of truth speed through my body. the room went all foggy and started glowing. this rush of truth traveled up to my jaw and settled there with a sweet “a-ha.” Kira went on advising those of us who sleep with mouth guards to do the lunge pose before bed to relax the psoas muscle, which in turn relaxes the jaw. I sleep with a mouth guard!
I was transported back two years before to when I began my yoga practice. I was searching for relief from pain in my hip due to my scoliosis. shortly after I started yoga with Kira I had a crown put on and had a lot of problems with it. I developed TMJ and was in a lot of pain. Kira taught me hip opening poses to relax the psoas. I consulted and had treatments with the dentist, the orthodontist, the chiropractor, the masseuse, the acupuncturist, the Chinese herbalist…I ate soft foods, I juiced, I drank stinky herbal concoctions, I took magnesium, I went to yoga. I got a mouth guard. I went to yoga. The mouth guard brought me some relief. Now I’m working with an orthodontist to correct my bite and heal the TMJ. all that time, I’d been loving the lunge in yoga class for how it was opening my heart. but I wasn’t doing it at home, nor at bedtime. I didn’t know the lunge had anything to do with my jaw. could I have avoided that pain? I started over-analyzing all of this, while still in my five-minute lunge pose and keeping my jaw relaxed mind-you, when it hit me: my blog!
I’d named my blog LUNGE without consciously making the connection between the lunge pose and my physical healing. I’d named it LUNGE because the lunge pose opens my heart and helps me to see more deeply, beyond the surface of things. the intensity of the pose was showing me things about myself, my path, my strength, my creativity. but I hadn’t realized the lunge pose was, in fact, my true medicine…it was healing my psoas, my jaw, my heart and leading me back to my writing. I guess my blog had met its namesake. I’ve since changed its name to HEART LUNGE and this is my first post with the new name. I’m feeling that heart energy. I’m feeling that lunge energy. I love how this awareness unfolded. I’m grateful for these insights. now I know what I’m doing before bed every night. ♥
while searching for psoas images, I found this informative article about the psoas and scoliosis on http://www.massagetherapy.com: “The Opinionated Psoas” by Thomas Myers and illustrated by Andrew Mannie. (Originally published in Massage & Bodywork magazine, June/July 2001.) I’ve struggled with scoliosis my whole life and this article holds many answers for me. if you have scoliosis it’s a must-read.