YogaUOnline provides “online yoga education for every body” and recently I listened to a free interview of Tom Myers discussing “Fascia and the Power of Movement in Mind-Body Transformation.” Myers is the explainer and proselytizer of anatomy trains, a way of studying human anatomy via the connective tissue that wraps, supports, separates, and attaches individual muscles and organs. I have listened to Myers in the past and was not always swayed by his style of talking; however, this time round I found his comments compelling.
This change in my reception of what Myers has to say is perhaps because I have recently begun a deep dive into the study of anatomy, which fascinates me, and because, as a yoga teacher going into my fourth year teaching, my anatomy knowledge feels woefully limited. So it was that this statement by Myers completely grabbed my attention, followed by his description of the physicality of muscle and fascia.
There isn’t any muscle attaching to any bone anywhere at anytime in any body!
Muscle is like hamburger, it can’t attach to a bone. It needs to be organized by the net of the fascia. So there’s fascia going around the muscle, there’s fascia going through the muscle, and when the muscle runs out, that fascia from the outside and the middle of the muscle spins into a tendon, just like yarn. And then that tendon blends not even with the bone at the other end but with the saran wrap coating around the bone, so the muscle is actually pulling on the fascia, which is pulling on the saran wrap, which is around the bone.
Myers went on to say that most injuries happen to the fascia, which also intrigued me because most internal “ouch” sensations in my body I have described as a pulled or sprained or strained muscle. Those are the vocabulary words and body parts that have always simply been in use. Do I now think “oh, that must be a fascia strain?” Something to contemplate…
In explaining why the injury tends to happen to the fascia, Myers said that muscle is usually trained before the fascia, with people overbuilding the muscle and under training the fascia. The question becomes: how do you train the fascia? And the answer is to train long kinetic chains rather than individual muscles. Yoga does just that, it moves, trains and works on long kinetic chains of fascia. Myers stated that it is important in yoga to vary poses so the entire body is being trained and not the same parts over and over.
One of the ways Myers describes fascia is as the body wide extracellular net that holds us together; the fascial system is a regulatory system, our “shape shifter” and the “organ of form.” In describing the development of a new baby and the growth of fascia, it turns out the “fascial bag develops first and then the organ’s cells grow within the bag.” Again, this is a completely new piece of my learning about anatomy. Over life it turns out that:
Fascia reorganizes itself based on activity (yields more organized
fascia) or non-activity (yields more random organization).