Fascia. Do you know what it is and what it does and what you need to do to keep it healthy? I had never heard of fascia before my first yoga teacher training program. Turns out, it’s critically important to our mobility and overall health. The word fascia means “band” or “bundle” in Latin. Similar to the web-like membrane around each section of an orange, it connects and supports our muscles, ligaments, tendons, organs and bones.
When we ignore our fascia, which is easy to do if we don’t even know what it is, it becomes dehydrated and stuck, making us less mobile, less supple, and looking and feeling older than we are. What are we to do? Have a regular movement practice. Research shows that yoga offers a consistent release of our fascia. The movements of the asana practice start to loosen up and lubricate our fascia. There are specific kinds of yoga practices and techniques that target the release of our fascia, such as yin yoga. Think relaxing the body into a deep stretch for several minutes at a time. Here, the fascial release is facilitated in a way that’s like clearing out the cobwebs between our muscles. Thus cleared, the muscles can move more fully and efficiently, increasing range of motion and reducing pain and discomfort. You know how you feel stiff and tight after you’ve been hunching over your computer or driving for hours? This is an indication that your fascia is stuck.
Even taking a sixty-second break every hour to consciously deepen your breath, stretch your arms overhead, and move your spine side to side can be like hitting the reset button on your body, giving it a little love before diving back into the task at hand. When we find ways to sneak in even tiny bits of movement, we keep our fascia and connective tissue supple. This, in turn, keeps us mobile well into our sunset years. Don’t you want to be able to get in and out of a chair or your bed without help when you’re in your 80s, 90s, and beyond? Me too. So get moving!