Do you know how your fascia affects your physical and mental health? If you’ve never even heard the term, you’re not alone. This little-known but vital system has only recently begun to be understood even by health professionals. Fascia is the expansive network of densely packed collagen fibers that encases every part of your body. This mesh-like substance acts like a second skin to support all your internal parts and maintain human structure.
At one time it was considered by doctors and scientists to be nothing more than packaging that essentially shrink-wrapped our insides. Unlike organs and other parts that have a compact form, fascia is twined throughout the body, making it difficult to study. In fact, researchers generally cut away as much as possible in order to better examine everything else.
Research has now discovered that it does more than help us keep our shape. Since these fibers are so extensively integrated into our system, fascia is involved in every motion we make. Not only can it move independently of our muscles, it has a powerful sensory capability that responds to stress. If you’ve ever had a nagging injury you just can’t seem to shake, it’s most likely due to fascia stiffening up to protect the aggravated part. When your fascia is free, you have no pain!
As with many other parts of the body, fascia is a wonder of engineering. It’s supple and pliable, allowing for a wide range of motion and flexibility. But also like the rest of the body, it needs maintenance to stay healthy. If you tend toward a sedentary lifestyle, over time the fibers will stiffen and lose their elasticity. Lack of movement can cause them to settle into position, resulting in reduced overall mobility. When you have adhesions in your fascia it is the greatest form of restriction that leads to injury. When the fascia is moving easily, you are more aware, lighter and free.
The good news is that fascia has amazing self-healing properties, meaning that damage doesn’t have to be permanent. Now that you’re aware of how this organ interacts with the rest of your system, you can make a habit of seeking out activity that puts an emphasis on stretching and maximizing range of motion.
With its fluid movements and extensions, spiraling core gestures and heightened awareness of the mind-body connection, yoga is the perfect activity for improving and maintaining fascia health. Its sweeping gestures help to restore the system’s suppleness and flexibility. This energy is then transmitted to the connected organs, muscles and joints for a positive impact on total body wellness.
This reduction of physical stress correlates to a reduction in mental stress. When your body feels strong and limber, your brain responds with an increase in confidence and positive energy. Let yoga help you develop an intimate awareness of your fascia and its role in your overall well-being.