My Theme: Yoga. For those of you who don't know, I've been working on obtaining my yoga teacher's certification for the past year and am just a little over a month from graduating with my RYT200. As such, I figure there's no better way to spend this month than teaching you folks some of what I've learned.
Today I'm talking about fascia and one of the reasons why yoga is so important to maintaining our health. Fascia is fibrous tissue that separates, encloses and connects muscular tissue, nerves and blood vessels. It's basically the protective coating over all of our organs. It is primarily made of collagen and it works as a network to relay messages between muscles, tendons, etc.
The entire body is encased in fascia and there are several layers of it: one just beneath the surface of the skin (superficial fascia), one encasing the organs (visceral fascia) and deep fascia which surrounds and separates the individual muscles. Moving and stretching our body allows the fascia to work better not only in terms of message relay but also in terms of overall health- the muscles, organs, nerves and tendons work better when the fascia surrounding them are well supplied with nutrients.
When we stretch (like you do in yoga) we are lubricating the fascia thus allowing it to transport nutrients throughout all those connected tissues. This enables the body to repair damage, restore connectivity to the body (that network I was talking about) and enable the body to move better. The less we stretch the thicker the fibrous material becomes and the more difficult it becomes for us to move.
This is why it is so difficult to regain mobility after an injury- the body freezes in place to prevent further damage and the fascia surrounding the injured muscles thickens and loses plasticity. The network doesn't work as well so signals between the brain and muscles slow down. Our movements become slow, painful endeavors rather than instant, easy actions.
Yoga stretches our fascia more effectively than just about any other exercise out there because it's pulling the fascia throughout the entire body. Sports isolate specific muscles but rarely do anything to the long lines of fascia stretching between those muscular groups. But because yoga is full body movement it is stretching ALL of the interconnected tissues thus restoring balance, ease of movement and overall health to the entire system.
There will be more anatomy lessons to come as we continue through alphabet. Come back tomorrow to learn about G!