The following blog on the psoas is generally aimed at our current Teacher Trainee group and forms part of the Teacher Training programme. Those who have already qualified and anyone with interest in anatomy may find this blog interesting. A thorough understanding of muscles and anatomy is not essential for all yoga teachers. An academic knowledge of the body doesn't create the ability to lead and teach which is a far more important skill for the yoga teacher to possess but I have found in my experience, that brushing up on my anatomy and keeping up to date with the latest research does help me offer my students a better rounded service. So if a student asks for a specific hip or lat stretch as an example, I have the knowledge to prescribe the correct posture. However at the same time, I would also agree if a yoga teacher said that overindulging in anatomy can create confusion and just complicate teaching. I guess its about balance. As is all things.
The subject of this in depth blog is the psoas. The psoas is a trendy muscle for yoga teachers to talk about over the past few years. I personally don't give it much attention as I prefer the whole body approach as opposed to breaking the body down into parts, but the increasing literature associating a tight psoas with back pain (Ellgen, 2015) means that this muscle continues to dominate discussions. The way the psoas links to the diaphragm (via fascia - connective tissue) also means a tight psoas may impair or restrict breathing (Koch, 2001). So lets look at the psoas in more detail.