Summary: Learn ways we keep our fascia happy, healthy, and hydrated, and experience FULL BODY BREATH to do just that.
- Fascia, a Liquid Crystal, can Dry Out
- Movement Hydrates Fascia
- Ideal Movement is Slow, Gentle, and in Varied Planes
- Breathing and Laughter can Move and Hydrate Our Fascia
- Motion – FULL BODY BREATH
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Hello, my friends. Pamela here. Welcome to Move Into Coherence. Today is the third episode of our four-part series on fascia, and in today’s episode I’m going to talk about how to keep the fascia happy, hydrated, and healthy.
[00:34] Fascia, a Liquid Crystal, can Dry Out
As we learned in the first episode of this series [What Is Fascia? Episode 036], the fascia is everywhere. It’s around the muscle bundles, around each muscle; it’s around every organ; it’s also around every blood vessel and nerve. And, as I said before, some researchers consider bone to be fascia and some even consider blood to be fascia, so it is everywhere. And it has this quality I mentioned in the first episode [What is Fascia? Episode 036], of being like a liquid crystal, which means in its untouched state, it’s very fluid, very liquid, and it is about 90% water. When it’s been squeezed, when there’s pressure put there or constriction happens, the water gets moved out and we end up with a solid. As I talked about in the episode last week [Fascia and Trauma, episode 037], the fascia responds to trauma. And so this constriction will happen in the fascia, which pushes the water out and we end up with this solid, which can feel very tight and create pain. And as we know, there are ten times the amount of pain receptors in the fascia as compared to muscle, so most of the pain that we feel is found in the fascia.
[02:18] Movement Hydrates Fascia
Now to keep our fascia healthy requires that we move, because movement is where the fascia will slide over itself. And when it does this sliding, it actually will pull water in from between the cells—this is called interstitial water—and this water will go into the fascia, thus hydrating it. So we could drink all the water we want and that will hydrate to some degree, but really what happens is this movement, the sliding of the fascia over itself, is what will actually hydrate it. And hydrated fascia sends a message to the nervous system everything is OK. If our fascia is tight, constricted, dried out, or it’s not sending any sensory information, these are all signals that there’s a problem. Naturally, as we age, our fascia tends to dry out. But I’m wondering if perhaps the reason for that is because we stop moving as much. There may be pain, and it’s not warranted to be moving if there’s pain. But there are other ways of movement that can work with the pain and can allow this fascia to slide over itself so that it becomes hydrated. And I kind of think of it as anti-aging to have this kind of movement in the fascial network to keep it hydrated. So we may have a lifespan, but I invite us to have a healthspan, where we can be healthy. The types of movements that are helpful for fascia are slow, gentle, and in variable planes. In other words, the planes of our movement can be front/back, side/side, diagonal, up/down, all of those different planes. And by moving in these different planes, moving the body through these different orientations, we will get maximal hydration of the fascia. And all of the fascia is invited in this movement.
[05:14] Laughter Moves Our Fascia
One of the things that I find fun as well is, and I did an episode on this too, is laughter. [Laughter and Wellbeing, episode 029]. Laughter, the movement of laughter, causes the diaphragm to move up and down and this movement causes all of the organs inside of the torso to also move, which is like an internal massage, which hydrates the fascia. So laughter is very good for fascial movement.
[05:51] Move Through Varied Planes
The movement practices of both Feldenkrais—and I’ve talked about this before, the Feldenkrais Method, and the offshoot of that which is Hanna Somatics—both of these movement practices include this type of movement that’s helpful for fascia. Moving slowly, moving small, movements gently without pain, without stretch, these are ideal types of movement for our fascial network. Also the practice of Qigong, Tai Chi and some yoga movements are also helpful for hydrating our fascia and moving it through these different planes.
[06:49] Breathing Moves Our Fascia
Another thing that also moves the fascia is breathing. When we take a breath in, our diaphragm moves down, the air flows into the lungs. When we exhale, the diaphragm moves up and the air comes out. So this movement of the diaphragm is affecting the fascia. When we breathe in, we can feel the front filling, the back, and even the sides filling. So we feel this expansion. And then on the exhale, we can feel a small shortening of the tissues involved. A little bit of movement, small movement like that, just breathing with awareness, can affect how the fascia slips and slides over itself. By practicing these types of movements regularly, you can keep your fascia hydrated and happy and healthy, and it will send signals through the system that tells your brain everything is OK. We can turn off that trauma response if there happens to be one, but we can also just maintain our healthy fluidity, and this is what we can call healthspan.
So today’s movement comes from the practice of Qigong, and it is called the FULL BODY BREATH. And I invite you to join in. So please come to standing and enjoy FULL BODY BREATH.
[08:37] FULL BODY BREATH
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Knees are soft. As you inhale, raise your arms in front of you with your palms facing the ceiling. And as you exhale, palms face the floor, fingertips facing each other, elbows wide. On the next inhale, imagine the breath coming up the backs of the legs, the spine, and the back of the head as you reach up to the ceiling, and as you press your arms down in front of you, imagine the breath flowing out the front part of your body. Inhale, arms come up, reaching up to the ceiling. The breath is moving up through the back of you. And on the exhale, the breath is moving down the front of you, as you press down towards the floor. Inhale, arms come up. Imagine receiving things from the heavens, and as you exhale, imagine releasing anything you no longer need down into the earth. Keep breathing like this. Inhale, arms come up, reaching up. Exhale, arms press down in front of you, elbows wide, palms facing the floor. And then come into standing and notice how you feel.
[10:00] FULL BODY BREATH Hydrates Our Fascia
So that was full body breath. Thanks for joining in. You may have noticed that we are moving our body in a lot of ways. We’re bringing awareness to the entire body, up the back and around the front. And so there’s a lot of fascial movement. There’s different planes of movement. We’ve got the up/down and the front/back, and with the arms moving in the way that they are, there’s also a lot of movement through the shoulders, shoulder blades, the ribs and so forth. So this is a really great motion to do to keep that fascia slipping and sliding around itself—keeping it hydrated. Thank you for joining me today, and send yourself some appreciation for joining in. This has been Move Into Coherence. I’m Pamela Stokes. Take it easy.