Updated: Nov 2, 2021
A few weeks ago I attended a Spinning Babies Parent educator course where I learned how the pregnant body can engage in different movements through mobility and stretches to ease discomfort in pregnancy and birth. It is such an innovative and empowering way to approach birth, and many of the tools we learned were based on the ubiquitous nature of the fascial system in our bodies.
Fascia. This is the “stuff” I pulled away and discarded 20 years ago in the anatomy lab, because it was “in the way.” Inert and lifeless...so I thought. Thanks to yoga, an understanding of body mechanics, and lifelong learning, my perception of the fascial system has completely changed. Fascia is everything. It is the biological fabric that interweaves all components of our bodies like a net. It provides feedback, communicates, supports, and literally holds us together!
Healthy fascia slides and glides, it is flexible, supple and responsive. A dysfunction of the fascial system, which is often precipitated by modern lifestyles, limits movement. Unhappy and sticky fascia leads to a fibrotic state with adhesions, knots, wrinkles, tissue fatigue, and uncoordinated movement that can ultimately be painful. However, we can change these compensation patterns through mobilization, heat and mechanical stretch. For example, a simple calf stretch can affect the balance of the pelvic floor, and ultimately the experience of birth! Now that is powerful.
Our fascial system is integral in everything we do with our bodies from movement, to how we stand, to how we feel, and how efficient and effective our bodies function. It is a web of silvery-white material that is vibrant and active. It is connective tissue which surrounds, penetrates, wraps, and coats every tissue in our bodies. It is within our muscles and forms the tendons, ligaments, and bones of our bodies. It is both fibrous with elasticity and gel like with suppleness. It is created within the embryo between two and three weeks gestation and is responsible for organization of our entire body down the nucleus!
Imagine the cross section of an orange and consider the pithy white stuff around the orange, in between the sections of the orange, and surrounding the tiny tear shaped pockets of yummy juice, as fascia. It holds the shape of the orange together so that it is stable and resilient. The fibrous and viscous properties of the beautiful fruit is in essence the reason it is an orange, and NOT orange juice. The fibrous pithy white material of an orange (that we peel away) connects everything together as a whole, yet all the components within the orange are separated. It’s not sticky, because it is hydrated and compartmentalized as units. Go ahead. Find an orange and appreciate the beauty of the structure that lies within. Mindfully notice the sweet smell, taste and color as your bite unleashes a burst of delicious goodness. Integrity of a structure is everything in how it functions and exists. That is why fascia is so important in our bodies.
How do we create a supple and happy fascial system that slides and glides instead of feeling sticky and tense? Through movement...M Theory Yoga, of course. Nutritious movement that corrects structural imbalances and allows for efficient energy exchange. Supple fascia transmits function. With movement our fascia absorbs force and responds with recoil. It compresses and expands as our body transforms from a stagnate jelly form to a fluid liquid state that flows. With a regular yoga practice, our deep core compresses proximally, and as we move peripherally with the movement of our limbs in warrior poses and side planks, we create a shearing effect through kinetic chains. Movement is medicine. Yoga is bioelectric energy. Freeing our fascia means freedom in the beautiful bodies we were given in life to move better, feel lighter, stand taller, and radiate more. We invite you into the studio as we free our fascia through our yoga practice and transform it into radiant energy.
See you on the mat!