Essential Yoga Body Parts

Fascia and Yoga

Posted on 2019-05-30

This post covers the fascia anatomy and gives you a Yin yoga sequence and fascia release exercises with props. Although we don't have one comprehensive "fascia" definition, it's widely accepted as 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: Proper Connective Tissue, blood, bone, and cartilage. Connective tissue consists of a non-living material called an 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 kind 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 an extracellular matrix, collagen fibers, fibroblasts, the cells that created the ECM, and myofibroblasts, cells that contract when 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 the fascia are resistant to lengthening. Young, healthy people have fascial networks and bundles that are neatly arranged. However, these bundles can become entangled or get shorter as the years go by. Instead of supporting cells, tissues, and organs, your fascial tissue can cause problems. (Bordoni, 2018)

Fascia Pain

The fascia is an elastic net that runs throughout your body, binds everything together, and can "glide and slide" against itself to allow for comfortable movement.

The fascia is susceptible to injury; however, repetitive exercises like swimming, cycling, or running can result in the inflammation and thickening of a part of this network. 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 moving difficult and painful. Your muscles are, in effect, tangled up and restrained by their fascial network. Your body's tissues can also become dehydrated, contributing 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. However, reviews and studies are available stating that one of the key benefits is the increase of motion for the duration of physical activity without negatively influencing 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 while alleviating any pain 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 are 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, the 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.

Taking care of the fascial sheath beneath your feet 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 posture you need now. 

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 cannot 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 while still having your big toes touching each other.
  • Inhale, and as you exhale, fold your upper body forward until your forehead touches the floor. Keep your spine and neck aligned 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 exhale, and let go of all the tension in your body. 
  • When you feel ready, slowly release your arms and roll up vertebra by vertebra until you reach 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 too intense, move your elbows further ahead.
  • For a deeper stretch, place a blanket under the elbows.
  • To get a more relaxed pose, you can place a bolster under the armpits; 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 the downward-facing dog, step one foot between the hands, lower the knee, and move it as far back as possible.
  • Keep your hands on either side of the foot or the knee
  • Stay in the pose for 3-5 minutes and switch sides simultaneously. 
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 the 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 a 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 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, you are not seated upright. You can enhance your seating position by sitting on another blanket. You can raise your seating position 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. Instead, moving the thigh bones towards the ground would be best, and the knees will naturally move downwards to the floor.
    • After you have attained the correct posture, the perineum will parallel 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 your ability. After a set time, lift your knees from the floor and straighten your legs 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 seated 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, bend your elbows to go deeper.
    • 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

    Using props like tennis balls or foam rollers for fascia release is excellent.

    Soles of Your Feet

    Take a firm ball about the size of a tennis ball and place it under the center of one foot. Place your body weight on the ball as much as possible 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 cannot 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 slight recovery 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 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 one leg, 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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