Essential Yoga Body Parts

Fascia and Yoga

Posted on 2019-05-30


In this post, we covering the fascia anatomy and giving you a Yin yoga sequence and fascia release exercises with props. Although we don’t have one comprehensive “fascia” definition, it’s widely accepted to be a sheet of connective tissue that separates or binds together muscles, organs, and tissues. There are many different types of connective tissue, and facia is one of these types, but not all connective tissue can be referred to as fascia.


What is Connective Tissue?

There are, in essence, four different categories of connective tissue, namely Proper Connective Tissue, blood, bone, and cartilage. Connective tissue consists of a non-living material called extracellular matrix (ECM).


All the cells in your body require ECM to make movement and function possible. ECM also protects cells, tissues, and organs, and keeps them in place. There are different types of ECM, and the properties of a specific type depend on the type of cell that produced it as well as the area of the body.


Since fascia is also connective tissue, it contains extracellular matrix, along with collagen fibers, fibroblasts, the cells that created the ECM, as well as myofibroblasts, which are cells that can contract when they are stimulated. (Fascia Facts, n.d.)


Fascia anatomy


What is Fascia?

Fascia is one embryological and anatomical network of fibrous connective tissue in your body and is located around all the tendons, muscles, bones, ligaments, and organs. Fascia has several functions:


  • It provides the tensile or elastic structure of the entire body,
  • It keeps different organs in place, and
  • It allows for some organ movement as the body is not entirely static.


The tight bundles of collagen fibers in fascia are resistant to lengthening. Young, healthy people have fascial networks and bundles that are neatly arranged. As the years go by, however, these bundles can become entangled or get shorter. Instead of supporting cells, tissues, and organs, your fascial tissue can cause problems. (Bordoni, 2018)


Fascia Pain

You can think of the fascia as an elastic net that runs throughout your body that binds everything together, and that can “glide and slide” against itself to allow for comfortable movement.


The fascia is susceptible to injury; however, and repetitive exercises like swimming, cycling, or running can result in the inflammation and thickening of a part of this network. The result is that the affected region will pull at the rest of the fascia network elsewhere in your body.


When the fascial sheaths around your muscles are restricted, you’ll find it difficult and painful to move. Your muscles are, in effect, tangled-up and restrained by their fascial network. Your body’s tissues can also become dehydrated which contributes to difficult movement and pain.


With the fascial release, the movement of your tissues will improve, and they will receive sufficient hydration again.


Benefits of Fascial Release

There is, to date, not a lot of information on the benefits of fascial release. There are, however, reviews and studies available stating that one of the key benefits is the increase of motion for the duration of physical activity without having a negative influence on the muscles.


Passive stretching and pushing on fascia tissue between the bones with a foam roller or ball, or draping or oscillating an affected muscle region can increase mobility for some time while alleviating any pain that you may have.


A fascial release can also have an impact on your nervous system. Your central nervous system controls the stiffness of your muscles. Since your fascial network is rich in sensory nerve endings, you can allow your nervous system to release tightness by pressing or rolling gently over your fascia.


No more than five minutes of fascial massage exercises is necessary per day to increase your range of motion and alleviate pain. The best place to start with fascia release exercises is at your feet, as they are one of your body’s most sophisticated organs and crucial for enhancing joint health.


At the soles of your feet are plantar fascia, which absorbs and distributes impact every time you take a step. If you’re standing still, plantar fascia will spread your weight to all the weight-bearing parts of your feet. This fascia has fibrous connections to the fascial sheaths of your calf muscles, hamstrings, glutes, lower back, and skull via your Achilles' tendons.


If you take care of the fascial sheath beneath your feet, you can alleviate pain and muscle restrictions up to your neck. After taking care of your feet, you can treat your hips for fascial release to improve blood circulation.


Fascia Release Yin Yoga Poses

Yin yoga poses are great for fascia release. Try this Yin yoga sequence or just the pose that you are in need for at the moment. 


Childs pose - Balasana

Yin yoga poses for fascia release


  • Start your Balasana by sitting down on your knees. Keep your feet close together and your big toes touching each other. 
  • Let your bum rest on the top of your heels. If you are not able to have your bum resting upon your heels, take a pillow or towel and place it in the gap between your back thighs and calves for support. You can choose to keep your legs together or to separate them still having your big toes touching each other.
  • Inhale and as you exhale fold your upper body forward until your forehead touches the floor in front of you. Keep your spine and neck in alignment with the top of your head pointing forward. 
  • Your arms can either reach forward with your palms facing down or softly rest along your body with your palms facing up. 
  • Relax your neck and your shoulders. Expand your torso with every inhale and with every exhale, let go of all the tensions in your body. 
  • When you feel ready, slowly release your arms and roll up vertebra by vertebra until you come to a seated position.
  • Stay in the pose for 3-5 minutes or more. Breathe, and try to stay here in the present.


Sphinx or Seal

Yin yoga poses for fascia release

  • Lie down on the belly and place elbows under or just ahead of shoulders propping yourself up.
  • Notice the feeling in the lower back, if the sensation is to intense move your elbows further ahead.
  • For a deeper stretch place a blanket under elbows.
  • To get a more relaxed pose you can place a bolster under the armpits and that way you can relax completely

  • Stay in the pose for 3-5 minutes or more. Breathe, and try to stay here in the present.


Dragon pose - Anjenasana

Yin yoga poses for fascia release


  • From downward facing dog step one foot in between the hands and lower the knee down and move it as far back as possible.
  • Keep your hands on either side of the foot or on the knee
  • Stay in the pose for 3-5 minutes or more and switch side for the same time. 

Yin yoga poses for fascia release

    For a deeper stretch in the hip and groin move both hands on the inside of the front foot if possible down to elbows or place a bolster underneath

     

    Butterfly - Baddha konasana

    Yin yoga poses for fascia release


    • Sit on a mat with your legs straight out. If you have tight groin or hips sit on a blanket to raise yourself off the ground. Bend both knees and place the soles of your feet together allowing the legs to release out to the sides.
    • Ensure that you are seated upright. You can confirm this by reaching back and feeling the lumbar spine. If there are protruding vertebrae then it means you are not seated upright. You can enhance your seating position by seating on another blanket. You can raise your seating position up to about a foot above the ground for support.
    • Bring the heels of your feet as close to the pelvis as you possibly can and hold on to the big toes of each foot. Do not force your knees to the ground. Rather you should move the thigh bones towards the ground and the knees will move downwards to the floor naturally.
    • After you have attained the correct posture, the perineum will be parallel to the floor. Your pelvis and the tailbone will also be equal distances from the floor. Sit at that posture for about 1 to 5 minutes depending on ability. After set time lift your knees up from the floor and straighten your legs out to the original position.
    • Stay in the pose for 3-5 minutes or more. Breathe, and try to stay here in the present.


    Caterpillar - Paschimottanasana

    Yin yoga poses for fascia release


      • Start in a seated position with your legs straight and close to each other. Flex your feet and keep an extra focus on having a straight back.
      • From here, inhale as you lean forward towards your legs with straight arms. Remember to fold from your hip and not from your waist. Make sure you’ve engaged your core pressing your groins towards your pelvis.
      • If this is easy, go further down towards your legs. It doesn’t matter how deep you go in the pose, don’t force yourself to go further if it hurts.
      • If you're holding your feet, then bend your elbows to go deeper down.
      • Continuously lengthen and go deeper into the posture.
      • Stay in the pose for 3-5 minutes or more. Breathe, and try to stay here in the present.


      Fascia Release Exercises with props

      It is great to use props like tennis balls or foam rollers for fascia release.


      Soles of Your Feet

      Take a firm ball that is about the size of a tennis ball and place it under the center of one foot. Place as much of your body weight on the ball as you can while keeping your breath steady and avoiding pain.


      You can also roll the ball to other areas of your foot’s lateral arch, including your foot’s outer sole. You don’t have to target the ball of your foot or your heel pad as you will not be able to reach the deeper lying fascia, and you don’t need more mobility in these areas.


      Self-myofascial Release to Buttocks

      Sit on a foam roller with bended knees and your feet flat on the floor. Place your arms behind you with your palms on the floor. Lean to your right and roll back and forth for around a minute, then lean to your left and repeat.


      Then, tilt your pelvis to the back and roll back and forth along the central fibers towards your sacrum.




      Try this lower body foam roller class with Jaime for a myofascial release


      Need a little recover from too much activity or too little?  Sometimes we need a little self-massage to help facilitate blood flow and open up our lower extremities. Try this if you are stiff from too much sitting or intense exercise. Recover and restore to revitalize.


      Self-myofascial Release to Shins

      Start in the tabletop position on your hands and knees with your fingers spread wide. Place a foam roller underneath your shins to elevate your knees and feet from the ground. If this area is not too sensitive, add more pressure to your shin by crossing your left leg on top of the right.


      Then, use your arms to roll up and down the lateral side of your shin bone for at least one minute. If this position is uncomfortable, you can uncross your legs and roll along both shin bones simultaneously.


      Self-myofascial Release to Front Thighs

      Start with the tabletop position on your hands and knees. Place a foam roller in front of your knees and transition into the plank position with your forearms flat on the floor so that your thighs rest on the foam roller.


      By moving your upper arms back and forth, roll up and down the length of your thighs, but make sure to avoid your kneecaps. If you want to increase the pressure, lift your one leg and place it over the other and repeat the routine for each leg.


      Self-myofascial Release to the Outer Hip

      Lie on your side with a foam roller between your hip and the floor. Roll around until you find the sensitive spots where there may be fascial inflammation. Stick to the fleshy areas of your hip and don’t roll around on your hip bone.


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