Depression, anxiety and fear are all in your head, experts say, but they actually may be in your butt, thanks to the “muscle of the soul”, or psoas major muscle. It is positioned near the hip bone and is responsible for balance, joint movement, flexibility, etc. This muscle is essential for keeping the body upright and moving.

A recent study suggests that it can be connected to more than just stability in the body – it can affect our general well-being as well. Liz Koch, author of “The Psoas Book” says: “The psoas literally embodies our deepest urge for survival, and more profoundly, our elemental desire to flourish”. When we take this into account, it’s easy to think there is more to this muscle than initially thought. The muscle is linked to the diaphragm where breathing is controlled, and also where the physical feelings of anxiety manifest. Koch thinks that the psoas major muscle is also linked to the spinal cord, leading to the reptilian brain, the oldest part of our brain, concerned with fight or flight, instincts over thought. “Long before the spoken word or the organizing capacity of the cortex developed, the reptilian brain, known for its survival instincts, maintained our essential core functioning,” she says.

The reptilian brain may be tense whenever our psoas is tense, making you feel depressed and miserable. As it is a muscle, there are exercises which can help stretch the psoas major which will help with your general well-being too. Watch the video below to see how to release the tension in the “muscle of the soul”.