As much as I personally enjoy a little bit of free-time, it feels so good to be back in the library of the Anuttara Yoga Shala. After completing the reading of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, our gracious teacher Yogacharya Philip allowed us a week off from class to reflect and review all the intense detail in the volumes of texts we had been studying over the past several weeks.
The completion of this reading and the compilation of notes have brought us to the end of Part 1 of the Anuttara Raja Yoga Teach Training course. For some of the students this was the end of their training, as many had come to experience the rich and unifying truths of the history and culture inspiring Anuttara Raja Yoga as an effective and insightful practice.
For the rest of us, those who intend to be taught how to interconnect the deepest meanings of these stories and integrated theologies with the metaphoric translation into cleansing and restorative postures, this is merely a beginning of another dharma.
And so begins Part 2 of our journey into Anuttara Raja Yoga. In the transition from one to the other, Yogacharya has divided the students into groups, and tasked each group with a unique and vital aspect of study related to the practice of Anuttara Raja Yoga. The groups are set to develop a presentation on their subjects, expected to answer a variety of questions with confidence and evidence to support the answers, and work as a collective to bring different ideas and creative personalities to the table.
I honestly cannot remember the last time I did a group project since high school, so this should definitely be interesting…
As someone who has openly discussed my experience in recovery from addiction, Philip tasks me with leading a group dedicated to examining and explaining the connection between the ideas presented in many 12 Step fellowships of recovery and the fundamental aspects of the 8 limbs of yoga. Having dedicated much of my time to understanding how yoga has impacted my own recovery and the recovery of other addicts and alcoholics, I am light-years beyond excited for the chance to really dive into this one. For anyone interested in this kind of peak into the restorative power of yoga in the troubled mind, be sure to keep an eye out, because after the presentation I will probably publish some of the project.
For now, let us talk about the Fascia! Anyone who has experienced one of Yogacharya Philip’s classes has heard him talk about the Fascia. If you’re anything like me you are probably not ashamed to admit that at first you hadn’t the slightest clue what this wise-cracking wise man was talking about. Thankfully we explore a great deal of anatomy for the Anuttara Raja Yoga Teacher Training, and as a matter of fact one of the first groups to present their project is on the Fascia.
Fascia is a band or sheet of fibrous connective tissue containing closely packed bundles of collagen fibers oriented in a wavy pattern parallel to the direction of pulling force in the body. FUN FACT- Fascia actually has 10x the nerve endings that muscle does! This web-like tissue connecting every cell in the body is similar to tendons and ligaments, but in the scientific community there is a bit of controversy about what to technically consider Fascia as connective tissue.
3 TYPES of FASCIA
Without being too wordy I’ll run down some notes. The function of muscle Fascia is to reduce friction of muscular force and in doing so, fascia provides a supportive and movable wrapping for nerves and blood vessels as they pass through and between muscles. In the training we discuss the 3 primary designations of Fascia.
1. Superficial Fascia
is a general coating of the body beneath the skin, made up of loose areolar tissue with varying amounts of fat. It is the layer that primarily determines the shape of the body. In addition to its subcutaneous presence, the Superficial Fascia surrounds organs, glands and neurovascular bundles.
It is present on the:
- Over the upper portion of the sternocleidomastoid
- The nape of the neck
- Overlying the breastbone
Due to its viscoelastic properties, Superficial Fascia can extend to accommodate the deposition of adipose that accompanies both ordinary and prenatal weight gain.
2. Deep Fascia
This is the layer of dense fibrous connective tissue that interpenetrates and surrounds the muscles, bones, nerves and blood vessels of the body. Deep Fascia divides groups of muscles into fascial compartments, and is essentially avascular, and is richly supplied with sensory receptors.
3. Visceral Fascia
Visceral Fascia suspends the organs within their cavities and wraps them in layers of connective tissue membranes. Visceral Fascia (also called Subserous Fascia) is less extendable than Superficial Fascia, and needs to maintain its tone consistently.
Yeah… seems like a lot right… and all that isn’t even HALF of the notes we have taken from these lectures on this one point of study. Needless to say, Anuttara Raja Yoga is about a beautiful and manifold world of data more than just learning how to sweat and sit in poses. Now is the time we take the litany of knowledge given to us on the philosophy and the heritage of Anuttara Raja Yoga and translate it to the anatomy and actions encapsulated in each pose.
Yoga is NOW… so much Fascia and so little time…
Until next week- Grace and Peace