Remember being told "Shoulders Back, Belly In"? (how has that worked out for us really?)

One of the most limiting factors to achieving a healthy core is the commonly held cultural belief around what looks "normal and attractive". So many tell me they were always told to "pull your shoulders back and belly in" but has that really worked? Why do we have nagging aches and pains, digestive and respiratory issues, joint problems and more? Why do we have what we suspect is a weak core?

In fact the old "shoulders back, belly in" only disguises accumulated tensions in the body.....not correct. The tensions are still there, and we've even added them by bracing ourselves in this way. We all want to be stronger - but first we have to release the tension that prevents that from happening. 

The Psoas Release is For Your Core

Tension in your core limits your movements and puts pressure where pressure shouldn't be. The Psoas Release is an ideal way to relieve it. We start every class that way but there are so many ways to do it. My favourite only takes a 1/2 dome and a block and I'll show it to you this week. The video below shows you a lot more too.

The Psoas muscles (one each side) run diagonally from the bottom of your ribs, attaching to your spine in many places and also your leg bones. When they are tight they pull your rib cage forward, creating a lot of compression in your lower back (and pelvic floor). Do this exercise in letting go often so that your Psoas muscles aren't messing up your movement. Here's some guidelines:

  • Be gentle in your approach. Allow a soft belly.  If you feel a little emotional that's ok, breathe easily, be compassionate towards yourself and come out whenever you need to. Letting go of physical tension can create a release of emotion too. Mind and body are really driving the same car, so be a loving mechanic! 
  • There's no perfect spot for your supports, as you'll see in Alison's video below - just make sure that your head and shoulders are supported and that you feel secure. Your lower ribs should be free to relax towards the ground. Try lining your bolster up (or other support) with the bottom or your armpits, that's about where your shoulder blades end.
  • This isn't a 'stretch' so you may feel no sensation, but do it in a way that encourages relaxation and you'll definitely notice easier movement. Music that soothes you is a great accompaniment.

This is a foundation exercise to do as often as you can. It's great to do before you go for a walk (makes it easier to access your hips), it's great for relieving stress and lower back pain too. Check out the video below where Alison Crouch shows you a bunch of different possible variations. Give yourself plenty of time to work with your chosen shape, utilise your easy breathing and see if you can give yourself the chance to rest for at least 5 minutes.

Ideas for home practice:

  • Feet Pelvis distance as often as you can think of it - notice just how often your feet narrow or widen, if you can see yourself walking towards a mirror you might be very surprised at how your ankles almost touch. See if you can take them towards pelvis distance even when you walk.
  • Psoas Release every day  (makes the above much easier)
  • Hand Stretch every day (getting ready for more upper body work next week)
  • Did you enjoy the chair series today? Lots of people do, which is why I filmed a version of it: