One of the reasons that fascia is so fascia-nating to me is because yoga practice is so good for it. Not just in terms of keeping it hydrated, moving and gliding well, and reducing tension, but because all of that, in turn, influences health in general in some really fascia-nating ways.
I’ve been working on a power point for a workshop I’ll be teaching later this year and so I thought I’d take a breather from that and try to distill this fascia-nating science (sorry, I promise I’ll stop now) down to 4 fascia. . . I mean “interesting” things about fascia.
- Fascia and Structure – it’s kinda like a jello mold
When I started studying anatomy in the late 1980s, the idea was to start with the skeleton and then build everything on to it. In other words the skeleton is the structural foundation. But that’s not entirely accurate.
The paradigm began to shift and we started to understand that each muscle is wrapped in a layer of fascia, kinda like saran wrap.
But that’s also not a great metaphor because fascia actually penetrates EVERYTHING right down to the cell nucleus. Better, may be this idea that we can see the muscles, nerves, organs (and to some extent even the bones) as actually suspended in fascia. Kinda like stuff in a jello mold. Fascia at once creates both structure and mobility in the body.
- Communication? Fascia is Fast!
All body movement generates bioelectromagnetic activity. Signals travel through the fascia like ripples on a pond, at about the speed of sound. Neuromuscular impulses are much slower, the fastest being something like 200 mph. Scientists who study this stuff believe the reason a tennis player like Serena Williams can return a lightening fast serve is because the fascia around the muscles communicates with the perineurium (the fascial sheath that surrounds the bundles of nerve fibers within a nerve). The nervous system alone would be too slow to be able to respond that fast. Anyway, since all the nerves and muscles are embedded in fascia, the systems necessarily always work together.
- Fascia affects your health
Capillaries are the tiny blood vessels that spread throughout the body and nourish cells. They are never more than 4 cells away from everything in your body. Capillaries excrete food, oxygen, messenger molecules (like from the endocrine/ immune systems) and more.
Fascia restrictions create barriers between your cells and the capillaries and that slows down the process of nutrition reaching the cells as well as wastes being carried away from them.This creates toxic build up.
Which may spur inflammatory responses leading perhaps to pain, as well as other health problems.
A free happy fascia system means that the capillaries can do their work more efficiently and this, ultimately, affects just about all aspects of health.
- Last Year Fascia got a New Name and “Organ” status.
I remember learning about the fascia system in the late 1980s when I was studying bodywork in California. At that time, fascia was considered by the medical world as just some sticky stuff that gets in the way when you try to do surgery.
But for us bodyworkers and yoga folks, fascia was super cool. It created tension in the body, but you could melt it like a superhero simply with the right light touch.
Last year western medicine finally got their fascia act together and declared it an organ.
They ceremoniously named it “The Interstitium.”
The good news is that having a new name and status means that it will be given more attention and perhaps research dollars. This may have implications in terms of research into fascia’s role in cancer, chronic pain and other chronic heath challenges.
Slow, mindful yoga practice is an excellent way to keep the fascia hydrated and healthy and in doing so – benefiting overall health in general.
Interested in learning more about the Science of Yoga? Check out my course, The Science of Slow!
Well now you can say it’s very “interstitiu-esting “ as well as fascia-nating 😊
🤣 That’s great! But please don’t encourage my bad behavior Liana!
As a TRE Provider (Trauma Releasing Exercises) I realise the importance of the fascia and the role it plays in our health. You describe it so simply here. Making it understandable. My partner Gerry and I teach sTREss Away in Australia, a combination of Yoga and TRE. As a mature couple, we really embody the concept of Subtle Yoga. You have great information and a friendly and grounded way of communicating your message. We enjoy keeping up to date with your blogs Kristine. Thank you.
That’s beautiful Jacky! My husband and I both trained in TRE too. So glad you are finding the blogs helpful. 🙏 xoxo
One reason I am so drawn to the Science of Slow and Subtle Yoga is the focus on ’changing your brain’ and the fascinating fascia link. As an advanced John Barns Myofascial Release practitioner and an eRYT 500 yogi, I have finally found my niche in offering Slow Integrated Yoga techniques. This coupled with mindfullness, sound and aspects of herbalism/aromatherapy and a good dose of humor has been positively changing my yoga students experience, thank you! I look forward to completing the Yoga for Mental Health Series in 2020 and the finishing the on-line class. The teaching sequences provided in the on-line teacher training are thorough and very applicable to structuring a class!
Hi Rebecca, I’m so humbled and honored – your work is clearly life changing! I’m so glad you are enjoying the online course as well and finding the class sequences useful. Looking forward to seeing you next year!🙏🙏🙏
I had known skin to be the largest organ of our body. Now with interstitium being an organ, is it the largest one?
As an advanced John Barnes Myofascial Release practitioner and eRYT500 yogi, the Slow Yoga and links to sequencing, fascia communication and wellness are affirming and changing my practice as well as teaching! Thanks for enhancing my commitment to functional integrated yoga, my students love it!
I am glad you are an anatomy geek like me!
I love learning more about how this miracle of a body works, and having the information to pass along to my clients!
I have been trained in teaching Yoga for Arthritis, which targets movement of synovial fluid and tracking bone alignments, but I would also like to delve more into the movements of fascia. Glad I found you!
very nice Debra. Sounds like you are doing very good work and quite complementary. So happy to have connected with you!