Does Fascia Change the Meaning of Healthy Alignment?
Michelle Bouvier joins us on the blog today to explain what fascia is, how it changes the meaning of alignment, and why it is so important to the healing journey.
We inhabit the most awe-inspiring design in existence.
The human body is a miracle of complexity and elegance, interrelatedness and self-regulation. Scientific pursuit still has us asking questions, probing more and more mysteries of the intelligence of our embodiment.
Fairly recently, there has been a paradigm shift in anatomy and movement science. We are moving away from a mechanical model of muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments working as parts in collaboration to a holistic view of our anatomy being one muscle-tissue system (myofascial) with numerous degrees of differentiation.
A New Organ?
In the Spring of 2018, medical science announced the ‘discovery’ of a new organ, the interstitium, or the layers of interwoven fascia (tissue) between absolutely everything.
How was this missed before? Researchers had been influenced by what they were aiming to look for. This filmy tissue just seemed to be wherever they were looking so they would scrape it away to get to the particular structure they were after. Turns out, this filmy layer wraps and connects with other forms of fascia such as tendons and ligaments. The interstitium lines around bones, around muscles and even individual muscle fibers thus creating a superstructure that gives shape to the entirety of the human body.
Tensegrity revolutionizes the study of movement and embodiment.
Together with our muscle tissues, the myofascial web in relationship with our bony skeleton supports us from within via a concept called tensegrity. A combination of tension and integrity, tensegrity is incredibly strong and resilient. Understanding tensegrity throws much of our knowledge of biomechanics and anatomy on its head. Furthermore, it revolutionizes the study of movement and embodiment.
What is healthy alignment?
Instead of being composed of many different parts, we are now looking at the body more as one system that diversifies and differentiates itself but remains in connection and communication across the whole. This impacts the ‘rules’ of the game. In embodied practices, we are adapting how we frame and how we teach safety, efficiency, tissue resilience and injury prevention. It is changing what healthy ‘alignment’ means and what ‘alignment’ is across differences in activities as well as in individuals.
In my personal healing journey, I found that working hard towards perfect alignment of the parts of my body actually caused more problems. It was when I started to feel and move as a whole body, getting out of my mental maps around many different parts, that I started to improve. When I learned more about fascia and the new paradigm of tensegrity, I found a permission to change my approach from piecing things together toward a greater sensitivity of the overall tone and distribution of force, energy, effort, and fluidity.
Nothing has been the same since! The journey has been both liberating and quite humbling. My entire practice has changed, and the lessons along the way have been priceless.
Everything is connected. Sounds trite, but it is so true.
How does this truth impact us in our embodiment? In the rest of our lives? How does this new knowledge impact living yoga?
Join me this Saturday, February 1st to swim in the fascia-nation of this holistic view of the body and of movement.