The psoas major is, in my opinion, one of the most interesting muscles of the body.  As part of the Iliopsoas – made up of the psoas major and the iliacus – psoas major is an important hip flexor and low back stabilizer.

A tight or weak psoas can lead to back pain.

The psoas major is a long, slender muscle that originates on the bodies and transverse processes of the lumbar vertebrae.  Stretching from these attachment sites, it passes underneath the inguinal ligament, to its insertion on the lesser trochanter of the femur bone.

In our modern society, where we sit much of the time, the hips are in a constant state of flexion.  Additionally, most of our other daily life activities (i.e. walking, running, bicycling, hiking, swimming, climbing stairs) involve movement only on the sagittal plane.  Because of the adaptive shortening created by long periods of time in hip flexion while seated and also the focus on sagittal plane movement, the psoas major can become either tight or weak or a lethal combination of both.  This instability can be the source of stiffness and pain in the hips as well as the lower back.

The good news is that we can do something to resolve this chronic state of muscle tightness and/or weakness of the psoas major by practicing static Yoga Tune Up® poses such as the Pelvic Primer and Leg Stretch Series and also the dynamic YTU poses, Monk Walks and Walk the Plank Minivini.  It would also be an excellent idea to stretch and strengthen the muscles of the inner and outer thighs that are often ignored in our sagittal plane dominant habits. Practicing poses such as Adductor Slides, Abductor Lifts and Prasarita Lunges along with the poses listed above will bring more overall strength and stability to the lower back, pelvic floor, hips and thighs.

Learn about our hip stretch and pain solutions.

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Allison McCready

Allison’s breath, alignment & anatomy based classes are a unique combination of introspection, self-enquiry and playfulness. She encourages her students to move into the nuances of each pose by focusing on breath and sensation, guiding students into an intuitive listening to their body’s story. Her popular Deep Flow classes are Yoga Tune Up® inspired and deconstruct the vinyasa into component parts so that students build strength and stability without risk of injury. Allison has completed teacher trainings with Max Strom, Erich Schiffmann, Jamie Elmer, Sherry Brourman and Jill Miller.

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C’est une révélation d’apprendre que tant de maux sont causés par une combinaison du manque de mobilité et du manque de force musculaire. Les douleurs du bas du dos sont tellement répandues, avec notre mode de vie sédentaire. Reprendre en main la responsabilité de sa santé par des exercices ciblés, comme dans ce cas en activant les muscles du psoas, est une grande source de réconfort et d’empuissancement.

Monica B Pack

What i love about many of the articles, is that although a muscle can feel tight you also emphasize that it can be weak and that’s not usually where my mind goes. I typically feel when a muscle is tight it’s because it is over developed, so knowing that weakness can contribute to pain is something to keep in mind and work on!

Karla Knight

Wonderful to have a list of poses to help with lower back issues from sitting too long. My husband travels a lot and these are perfect poses for him to practice when he gets off the plane. Thank you for your article.

Amanda Kreuzer

The psoas is very interesting to me and I love all the poses you suggested. I never realized how tight mine were until I attended a Yoga tune up fitness class and my instructor open my eyes!!

Karin Steinbach

Psoas work fascinates me! Thanks for sharing,

marie josée packwood

Thank you for the Yoga Tune Up suggestions It really feels good


A good blog for the worker bees like me who sit most of the time and not knowing my psoas major is getting tighter, shorter and weaker. It also explains why the elderly sitting in a wheelchair have a stability issue. I wish there are exercises for the elderly to strength the psoas major.


As someone who suffers from lower back and hip pain, as well as many other pain issues. I love this article. I have saved this article so I can review it often and remind myself of what poses to do to reduce my pain and the pain of my students. Thank you for this wonderful article and for sharing this information.

Catherine de Marin

Yes, our fascia takes the shapes we form with movement or lack thereof. Thanks for the Psoas info!