ARE YOU STIFF TODAY? WHY?
Well, in our trainings we all learn that there at least 2 ways you may not be able to move, whether it is to a cool yoga pose, or because you are stiff (even in pain).
It is less than 500 years since the publication of De humani corporis fabrica libri septem (On the fabric of the human body in seven books") by Andreas Vesalius published in 1543. Vesalius rectified many common mistaken beliefs about where muscles and bones were and where blood vessels pumped blood from (it was thought that some came from the Liver!). And how much has modern medicine changed since then! Much learning has happened.
It is no different in yoga and the science of movement. And the speed of change is even more rapid... It has been believed until very recently (and is still believed by many yoga teachers) that the dominant (even only) limit to a yoga pose is their muscle tightness. However, that is increasingly seen as on a partial understanding at best. As I said, there are at least 2.
We know more and more that a tissue called fascia is probably even more responsible for the stiffness which holds you back or even causes impaired movement and pain. It's big. Fascia is a scaffolding tissue in you which is there before the rest of you in embryo you, creates all the structure (including bones, your heart and all your muscles) as you grow and surrounds all of you all your life. So it makes sense that to be open in that yoga pose, you've got to work with fascia.
To get a feel for this, watch respected Fasciologist, Gil Hedley Ph.D on what happens when you don't stretch in life. This scaffolding is alive and doesn't like to stay still... it should get your attention...
SO YOU MIGHT WONDER … HOW DO I WORK WITH MY FASCIA?
Good news: walking, running, stretching and yoga are all great. Our bodies are composed of muscles and fascia tissues which may include ligaments, tendons, bones and joints. Muscles are essentially elastic, heating up when exercised. They respond well to repetitive and rhythmic movements because their elastic qualities allow the muscle fibers to elongate when appropriately stretched.
But fascial tissues remain generally cool when exercised; it does not elongate much due to its plasticity element. It does a little. But if you really want to open up, long traction exercise is required.
1. Find a space. You don't even need a mat.
2. Stand with your feet apart, hip distance or wider.
3. Pray for mercy.
4. Bend at the waist as in above.
5. Look at your iPhone (yes that's allowed briefly) and set a timer. For beginners, 2 minutes. Eventually work up to 5 minutes.
6. Now put your phone down and don't look at it again. Don't worry it will still be there.
6. Start gentle. You should feel a stretch or stress in the backs of your legs and maybe your lower back. You are looking for about a 60% stress. More than that is bad for you, even injurious.
8. If it's too much, don't come out, bend your knees!
Now, what you just felt in the back of your leg is fascial strain. When you come out it should feel good. Yes? Well done. Now do this every day. And if you don't, stiffness, pain and many other un-fun things await....
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