How are your Fascia Lines? – Oct 2021

We have been working on the fascia lines of the body in YIN yoga this week. YIN yoga is a slow, introverted yoga and it’s beautifully healing for joints, ligaments, tendons and fascia, the connective tissue of the body. The long held poses feel like a moving meditation. YIN yoga is a good balance to my more traditional, Yang style yoga.

Now fascia is a type of connective tissue that comes from the Latin word for ‘bandage.’ It is like a plastic cling wrap for the body that envelopes the bones, muscles, and organs helping us to maintain posture, control body position, and make smooth, coordinated movements.

Our YIN yoga classes hold the yoga poses for 3 to 5 minutes to access the deep fascia. After holding a static stretch for 90 seconds you move from superficial tissue into the deep fascia. This transition is called a ‘phase change.’ The deep fascia is made up of collagen, which provides tissue resiliency, strength, and elastin.

Fascia lines could be considered to be the big lines of pull down the front, back and sides of the body. These Fascia lines create stability, power, flexibility, elasticity and posture. For example the back or dorsal fascia line connects and protects the entire rear side of the body as a back shield:  from underneath the foot to the top of the skull. A good way to open up this line is hold a toe squat pose which stretches the plantar ligament under the arch of the foot. If there are issues with the dorsal fascia line the collagen fibres of the fascia can become stiff and locked from overload or poor mobility and this thickened fascia is often dehydrated and malnourished. As we hold the pose (agony!) it’s remarkable how by just opening up one part of our internal cling wrap (the plantar fascia under the foot) we can open up this whole line of pull.

Fascia needs hydration. The older we get, the dryer we become. This dryness contributes to joint stiffness and muscle tightness, which can accelerate the aging process. Both stretching and compression play a significant role in tissue hydration. When you load tissue, fluid is squeezed out and into the lymphatic system. When the loads are released, and the tissues are left to rest, new fluid is pulled back in like a sponge. Loading our tissues, especially neglected ones, refreshes them.

Most of my yoga students practice yoga for the sheer joy of evolving into more flexible, youthful, joyous yogis and whether we are working our muscles or opening up a fascia line, it’s all part of the journey. Yoga helps us pursue our other joys, be it playing tennis, riding mountain bikes, walking the dog or lifting weights, yoga is a great complement to an active life.  

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