Your body remembers everything that has ever happened to you.
Your conscious mind makes you aware of a tiny fraction of that information, so you’re able to focus on current tasks and future goals. It’s imperative to your survival that you aren’t able to sit around all day and sift through all the details of past years and old experiences.
Your body remembers everything that has ever happened to you, and given that this is the case, it is a portal to everything that’s still unresolved within you.
When you have a traumatic experience, it is literally stored in your cells. Your emotions have a motor cortex function, meaning that they initiate physical responses. When those physical responses are not completely released, they become stuck. Animals and babies do not store trauma in their bodies in the same way that adults do, mostly because after a confrontation or stressful experience, they shake their bodies rapidly in order to physically release it.
As adults, we are encouraged not to cry, not to shake, and not to show our emotions, so that we don’t appear “weak.” Sure, it’s not always appropriate to express our deepest emotions, however, if we do not find a safe space to do so, we live with them haunting us forever.
What is your psoas muscle, and why does it matter?
As many yoga teachers can attest, human beings store a lot of unexpressed emotions in their hips. This is mostly because the hips are the most stationary part of the body. Where arms and legs move consistently, the hips are often static.
However, there’s another reason why they are such a sensitive area for people. It’s because that is the location of your psoas muscle, which some refer to as the “seat of the soul.”
Your psoas is the core muscle connecting the lumbar vertebrae to the femur. The psoas major is the biggest, strongest muscle in your hip flexors, which are altogether responsible for controlling the thighs and torso and their movement together.
Being that this muscle is found at the very core of your body, it is the single muscle most deeply affected by your fight-or-flight response. Given what we know about emotional motor functions — which is that feelings, unexpressed, get stuck where they begin to initiate — your psoas are the single muscle storing the deepest and most pervasive trauma you’ve experienced.
Aside from being integral to your body’s structure and safety response system, it is also a very hard muscle to stretch, or reach, which is also why it tends to hold pain and stress.
How to release trauma from your psoas
Aside from stretches or yoga poses that generally open your hip area, for truly deep psoas release, you will want to actually allow your body to “shake out” what it is storing.
You can follow a video tutorial to do this, or follow these general instructions. After stretching deeply and tiring your leg muscles a little so that they do not try to take over, lay on the floor with your knees up. Slowly open your knees away from one another, and allow your core and hips to start shaking lightly. This should happen autonomously, so you shouldn’t force it.
The deeper you open, the more you will shake. The shaking can be very light, or very intense. Either way, the more you open, the more you should shake. You should do this for up to 30 minutes at a time. As you process, don’t be surprised if old feelings, memories and emotions start to arise. It’s normal to cry, feel tense, or remember things you previously forgot.
The more you do psoas release exercises, the less anxious you should start feeling in your day-to-day life.
Though it’s always useful to reflect on your past experiences and extract wisdom and lessons from each of them, a lot of healing has less to do with psychoanalyzation, and simply recalibrating our bodies back to a healthy, stable state.