You know the feeling: a leg extension softens your narrow shoulders, a hip opener relieves your lower back pain. This happens through the design of nature: we each have our own body’s own collagenous network, which is commonly referred to as “fascia”, and if something happens to one part of the network, we can feel its effects elsewhere.
- Why fascia are important
- Fascia elements and yoga
- Fascia Growth and Yoga
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“Is a forward bend a hamstring stretch? Good yes. But it’s much more than that, ”explains Tom Myers, author of Anatomy Trains and co-author of Fascial Release for Structural Balance. “If you don’t consider the fascia in your yoga, you won’t see the picture for what it is.”
Why fascia are important
Cells are our building blocks, and something has to hold them in a recognizable shape, explains Myers. And that is the role of the fascia. “If you were to hold 70 trillion cells together, you would either glue them together or weave them together. Evolution decided to do both, ”he says.
The fascia surrounds structures in your body including muscles, organs, and bones. It also occupies the space between your cells, the space in between. The fascia integrates and separates the structures and systems of your body. This way of thinking about the body moves away from identifying isolated parts. Rather, they work as a whole, ”says Myers. “The body is not made of parts like your Ford F-150 or your Dell computer. It is grown from a seed. The semen you grew out of is a fertilized egg, ”says Myers. “You have never had a nervous system that was separate from your fascial system, your muscles, your epithelia and your hormones.”
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Fascia elements and yoga
Exercise, including yoga asana, keeps the fascia healthy by keeping it active, hydrated, and resilient. Yoga affects four key elements of the fascia:
- Water. Fascia is mostly water. When you stretch or contract muscles, or hold a yoga pose, water pushes out of your fascia. If you stop moving or leave a certain distance, your tissue rehydrates – with a boost: Scientific evidence shows that the fascia absorbs more water than is lost when you squeezed it out through movement. “The water moves, the water changes position, and the water carries all kinds of chemicals in and out of your tissues, including neuropeptides, hormones, new proteins, and histamines.” Yoga is especially good at facilitating this renewal because its postures systematically move your body through all ranges of motion.
- Hyaluronan. Hyaluronan is spongy and absorbs water. When well hydrated, it has a gel-like texture similar to egg white. “There is almost no friction in your joints because of the really good lubricating properties of this hyaluronan when it’s wet,” says Myers. But when hyaluronan is less hydrated, it’s sticky. When you stop moving, or through aging naturally, the fascia becomes less lubricated and the joints rub against each other and then move towards arthritis. . The actual chemistry in the joints moves them into an arthritic state, a degenerate state. Overuse can also be problematic: inflammation from excessive friction can cut hyaluronan chains, making it harder for tissues to stick together and keep water at bay. “Water rushes in and we call it swelling,” says Myers.
- Glycoaminoglycans. Glycoaminoglycans absorb moisture. Like ferns, they unfold near water, pulling water molecules along their edges. Inactivity keeps them curled up. “The movements you do in yoga, especially when you step into a part (of the body) that you don’t normally use, break down these glycoaminoglycans so they open up and absorb the water,” says Myers.
- Collagen. Collagen (the white tendon material you can see in meat) is stronger than steel. Its fibers lie next to each other. “If you put this under strain, those sticky molecules can let go,” Myers says. “The bonds between these fibers are melting. The fibers slide on each other and then the bonds tie back longer. “
Fascia Growth and Yoga
Fibroblasts are the working cells of your fascia system. You create new fascia and get rid of old fascia. The new fascia is made up of “felty, disorganized fibers that go in all directions,” says Myers. “There is nothing the cell can do to organize the fascia that it laid. Instead, your movement comes and organizes the fascia.” When you begin to organize your fascia through exercise, including yoga, you become hers Recognize properties including:
- Elasticity. The fascia stores an elasticity similar to that of a superball as opposed to that of a rubber band. it has a high coefficient of restitution. Elasticity is good. What you want are tendons (which have a lot of fascia) like feathers, Myers says. We can train elasticity through ballistic stretches: cyclic movements of about a second that allow quick stretching and quick recoil of the fascia. Remember: When doing aerobics, perform movements – do not hold Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose) or pump bicycle pedals up a steep hill for 30 seconds.
- Plasticity. The fascia is both viscous and elastic and allows plasticity. Plasticity occurs when, for example, you hold a sustained stretch like Extended Triangle Pose, which melts the connections between the fascia fibers, allowing the fibers to slide on each other and create a new length. Imagine slowly stretching a thin plastic bag: the plastic will get longer if you pull on it steadily. it will not return to its original form. You have gone beyond elasticity into plasticity. The process is similar in your fascia, Myers says. In fact, an injury occurs when you stretch the fascia too quickly, for example stretching it beyond its elastic or plastic ability to stretch and strain a tendon.
- Modification. The fascia is constantly being remodeled (remember that some fibroblasts remove old fascia while others form new fascia). When you injure yourself – for example, when you break your fascia from straining a tendon – fibroblasts overdo the formation of new fasciae to protect the body and create scar tissue. However, the conversion has a positive aspect: If a strong yoga or training session puts a considerable strain on the fascia, the fascia changes in what the fitness world calls “tearing and repairing”: The fasciae tear a little and repair themselves or two days, possibly longer, depending on factors such as age, diet, health, and exercise habits.
“What you do on the mat is the stimulus,” says Myers. “Your body is more interested in what happens when you get off the mat.” In other words, they are more interested in remodeling or re-knitting. Over time, the remodel can help build healthier patterns in the fascia, such as correcting poor posture of a front head (also known as a text neck).
Learn more with Tom Myers in his online classes with Yoga Journal: Science of Stretch: Anatomy Training for Stability and Resilience with Tom Myers and Anatomy 101 with Tom Myers.