When it comes to yoga anatomy, we often talk about bones, muscles and joints and how to apply yoga anatomy to our practice as both practitioners & teachers. The subject of the fascia, though, is gently skimmed at the surface. This blog & the blogs to follow will help unbox the basic facets of ‘The Fascia’ & how a healthy fascia is the foundation of good health, both physically & emotionally.
What is Fascia?
Simply put, fascia is a type of connective tissue. Its name comes from the Latin word for band or bandage. One way to think of fascia is like plastic wrap or cling wrap for the body & another way is to imagine it as one big interconnected spider web of tissues.
This continuous structure of fibrous connective tissues connects every cell of our body. The fascia extends from our head to our toes & is a thin casing of connective tissues that hold every organ, blood vessel, bone, nerve fibre and muscle in place.
It is a highly organized mesh formulation filled with water. Fascia helps attach, stabilize and separate our muscles and internal organs.
It is also called a “soft skeleton” since it is elastic and constantly adjusts itself based on our every movement. This connective tissue helps maintain posture & controls body position.
Types of Fascia
There are 3 different types of fascia & the composition of each varies depending on their location & function. All of them are made of collagen, elastin fibres, cells and fluids.
A visual comparison can be made to an orange. The hard peel of the orange is like the skin; the soft white inner layer is the superficial fascia which is located right under the skin.
The thin, translucent membranes that warp each section of the orange are like the deep fascia surrounding the muscles. Finally, each cell is wrapped in more fascia, like the subserous fascia.
This is located under the skin; the first two layers beneath the skin are called epidermis & dermis. Although considering different layers, there is no separation between the two.
As we move deeper into the body, the next layer is the hypodermis which contains the superficial fascia. This fascia helps maintain stability or form.
This surrounds bones, muscles, nerves and blood vessels. It is more fibrous in consistency. The main function of the deep fascia is to support & protect the muscles and soft tissues.
It is also known as visceral fascia and supports the organs within their cavities. Each organ is wrapped in dual layers of fascia that are separated by a thin membrane.
Fascia - Physical and Emotional Wellbeing
Did you know that our fascia health is directly connected to our thoughts, emotions & daily habits? Physically, the fascia is wrapped throughout the body.
It connects your toes to your hips and to the top of your head; your fingers to the arms, shoulders, chest and neck. It spirals around your bones, muscle fibres, organs, arteries, veins and nerves. Each organ is wrapped in an intricate web of fascia that’s connected to the spine, ribs, or pelvis.
These fascial connections connect with the muscle fascia that impacts movement. This is what you feel as a stretch or when you have physical pain. It’s the tension of the fascia that causes feelings of tightness.
Tendons and ligaments are layers of fascia that are meant to absorb shock and distribute the impact of shock throughout the body.
Allowing the softening of the tissues can help heal old wounds, release blocked emotions, relieve stress and help in relaxation.
When we encourage our emotions to exist and make space for them within the body, we also release stagnant energy in the physical body, which can flow more freely.
Working with your fascia & understanding the connections of the body can offer total internal health & pain-free living. Stored emotions are released, and the body moves into a state of well-being.
The more stretched and flexible the fascia is, the less likely it causes pain. Bottom line, your practice will make you healthier, stronger & most of all, happier.