Transcript of: Is the psoas muscle stretched in supta virasana?
Hey everybody! Welcome to this month’s question of the month. This month’s question is about whether a psoas stretch occurs in supta virasana. And of course, you’re welcome to submit your own question, by going to: yoganatomy.com/myquestion.
This question comes from Kelsie. “Hi David. I’ve always heard that supta virasana stretches the psoas and I always thought it did, but now I’m wondering. Can there be a psoas stretch in a pose where there is no hip extension? [DK: That’s a good question!] It seems to me that only the muscles that cross the knee will be stretched in supta virasana. However, I can imagine that if the rectus femoris causes the pelvis to tilt forward more than usual, compared to neutral standing, then the psoas would be stretched over the tilted pelvis in a kind of arc shape. But, if the rectus femoris does not tilt the pelvis forward, then it seems like the psoas would be in pretty much the same position it’s in when a person is standing, i.e. not stretched. Care to share your thoughts? Hopefully I’ve been clear enough. Thanks, Kelsie.”
Kelsie, you have been clear enough. I’ll take the first question, which is, can there be a psoas stretch in a pose where there is no hip extension? Uh, no. I would say, no. It might get a little more pressure, but stretched in the sense of putting enough length in it that you’re elongating it, in a way that’s going to be sustainable, uh, probably not.
Although, I need to correct something you mentioned in the next section, relative to the pelvis tilting forward more than usual. So, with respect to supta virasana, I’m going to tie it back in to the question of the muscles across the knee being stretched. In a posture like supta virasana, it’s true, the first resistance you’re going to come across is going to be the knee extenders, basically the quadriceps. Right, because you’re flexing the knee completely. Now remember, one quadricep crosses the hip joint, which is the rectus femoris. In order to stretch that muscle, you need to do both flexion of the knee and hip extension as you’re suggesting. That would mean you’d have to lift the hips up away from the floor. That would then be knee flexion and hip extension lengthening that.
How does pelvic position affect psoas stretch?
Now, the part that I need to correct is, if the rectus femoris, and possibly some other hip flexors like adductors, are tight, they are going to pull the pelvis in what we call an anterior tilt. That is, down and forward. The correction is, that that by itself does not create a psoas stretch. If anything, that shortens the length of the psoas between the origin and insertion. So, that’s not going to add a psoas stretch. Once again, if you’ve opened up the rectus femoris and the other hip flexors enough, then when you lift the hips up, it’s possible that the stretch goes deeper and gets at the psoas.
Personally, I would say a much better psoas stretch would be one where you don’t worry about necessarily what the knee is doing. Because, the psoas doesn’t cross the knee. Instead, focus on the hip extension. Because, psoas of course is known as the strongest hip flexor. So, lunges are a much better way to get a psoas stretch, if that’s what you’re trying to get at.
I hope that clarified things for you. Alright, if you’ve got a question you want to submit, go to yoganatomy.com/myquestion and I’ll get to it eventually.