Fascia, which means “band” or “bundle” in Latin, surrounds, connects and supports our muscles, organs, bones, tendons, ligaments and other structures of the body. Containing nerves, these tissues also serve as a layer of protection and body awareness……but also so much more!
Researchers have identified this previously unknown feature of human anatomy with implications for the function of all organs, most tissues and the mechanisms of most major diseases.
Published March 27 in Scientific Reports, a new study co-led by an NYU School of Medicine pathologist reveals that layers of the body long thought to be dense, connective tissues – below the skin’s surface, lining the digestive tract, lungs and urinary systems, and surrounding arteries, veins, and the fascia between muscles – are instead interconnected, fluid-filled compartments.
After long being overlooked in favor of muscles, fascia has been receiving some much deserved attention as of late. As fascia expert Gil Hedley, Ph.D., says: “If you want to understand human movement, study fascia!”
The researchers say that no one saw these spaces before because of the medical field’s dependence on the examination of fixed tissue on microscope slides, believed to offer the most accurate view of biological reality. The field has long known that more than half the fluid in the body resides within cells, and about a seventh inside the heart, blood vessels, lymph nodes, and lymph vessels. The remaining fluid is “interstitial,” and the current study is the first to define the interstitium as an organ in its own right, and as one of the largest of the body.
But in the world of yoga, this is not new, in fact yoga teachers who offer Healing Gentle Yoga have been working with this connective tissue for years, and have known its role and importance on releasing chronic pain and inflammation.
While moving through dynamic Yang style yoga poses begins to hydrate and free the superficial layers of the fascia, it’s often not enough to undo the deeper damage done that our modern lifestyle inflicts on our bodies. Many factors in our daily life, including poor postural habits, stress-induced muscular tension, limited movement, injury and dehydration, can cause velcro-like adhesions to form within the fascia sticking connective tissue, including muscles, together and restricting the ability to perform their individual functions. Creating, tension, inflammation and chronic pain.
The deeper layers our tissue, where adhesions and scar tissue are common, can be stubborn, requiring more than your typical Hatha Yoga class to affect change. Healthy fascia relies on targeted movement, nutrient dense diet and hydration.
The Benefits of Healing Gentle Yoga
In Healing Gentle Yoga we target the releasing of fascial adhesions, and it is like clearing out the cobwebs between the muscles, allowing them to slide and glide more efficiently, which increases hydration and elimination of toxins. Freeing up the muscles in this way allows them to begin function independently, contracting and releasing to their fullest potential. Myofascial release also increases range of motion and reduces pain and recovery time. Plus, since our fascia is rich with nerves, clearing up these tissues creates a direct pathway for nerve signals to flow to the brain, which aids body awareness (proprioception), coordination, and our ability to control our movements.