“Understanding the Range of Motion in Our Bodies”
“Our goal in life is not to become perfect; Our goal is to become whole.”
As we practice yoga, whether it be a dynamic vinyasa practice of engaging
yang tissues (muscular) or working the deeper yin tissues (fascia) we need to pay attention to what we are feeling. In Yin Yoga we are holding our poses 3 to 5 minutes, targeting connective tissues, ligaments and bones. It is important to remember that muscular yang tissue have networks of yin fascia tissues deep within the muscle.
A way of understanding this is to look at the Yin/Yang symbol. Notice how
the light is swirling in the dark and the dark is swirling in the light. Muscles
are considered yang, yet have 30% yin tissues within the muscle. The 30% which is yin is actually fascia tissue that need fluids to stay moist and flexible. Yin tissues are drier and much less elastic, especially as we age. When we hold our poses we bring moisture and nourishment to our tissues which increases the Synovial fluid (a lubricating fluid resembling the white of an egg, secreted by certain membranes to keep our joints working properly) Yin yoga helps to rebuild the synovial joints/fluids. It extends the current range of motion which help us to remain mobile and flexible. That said, we realize that it is the fascia tissue within our muscle cells that create strength. Power yoga is great for developing our strength within our muscle, yet it is the yin part of our practice that creates the length and flexibly.
Yin is specifically designed to exercise the ligaments and to regain space and
strength in the joints. There are three kinds of joints; 1. Fibrous joints,
bones held together by connective tissues 2. Cartilaginous joints, where the bones are held together by cartilage and allow slight movement and
3. Synovial joints, the space between the bones. The Synovial joint allows the greatest degree of movement. These joints can be seen as spaces between the bones where movement is possible. The limits of flexibility include stretching the tissues, compressing the tissues and shearing them which we do in all twisting poses.
As a student of yoga you are your best teacher! Ask yourself what stops me from going deeper in my pose. Experts agree that limitation on our flexibility is due to tension along the tissues which resists further elongation. Two things most experts agree on is “If tension is stopping the movement, it is felt in the direction away from the movement. If compression is stopping the movement it is felt in the direction of the movement.” The range of motion in our joints, is limited by tension. However our ROM can be increased through yoga asanas, breath and diet. When you have reach ROM in your pose, that may be as far as you can go at this point. You may be able to do another pose and go around the point of compression. Although after you have worked through all of your resistance, it is compression that stops you. In Yin our blood and lymphatic fluids are like “warm water” to our meridians. When they become clogged we can remove these deep blockages as we bend, stretch and breath. This is especially true in a Yin Yoga practice!