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Subject: MFR & Yoga

Christine W.

March 14, 2016b

Some of you asked me at a recent seminar how i am incorporating JFBMFR into my yoga program. So i thought i would share this blog about it here (with John's permission). For those of you who are yoga teachers, i hope you find it useful!

Yoga therapist, RMT, Hakomi therapist

All the core classes but 3, many repeats and forever repeating

*Art by Karen Kliethermes, Artist


Here are three (though there are many more!) different ways you can apply myofascial release principles into y...our yoga practice.

1. Hold your poses much much (and in most cases MUCH) longer.

2 – 5 min is the magic window. Why? A few reasons. First, it takes that long for the ground substance to return to its healthy gel-like state and make that area more receptive to change in posture or unhealthy holding patterns. Second, it releases a chemical known as interleukin 8, which is the body’s natural anti-inflammatory. It also has cancer fighting properties!

2. Apply a little bounce.

Rebounding is a term used by John Barnes which introduces a gentle rocking into the body. This motion starts to retrain healthy elasticity back into your fascial system, giving it proper flexibility and support. Imagine taking a straightening iron to curly hair, effectively making it lose its bounce. Over-stretched fascial tissue does much the same. And a loss of bounce means a loss of its shock absorbing properties, making the body vulnerable to injury. If we wanted to make the hair curly again, we would likely need to shower and shampoo to help it back to its original state. For fascia, we want to add a little bounce or wiggle into our practice. Though the bounce is best done after the pose has been released, in my classes I do rebounding in between poses; injury can result if you bounce *during* a stretch, but it’s very helpful if done right after a release has occurred.

Try this sequence the next time you have finished your standing yoga poses. Stand in simple standing pose and let your knees come to a slight bend. Imagine you are standing on a trampoline and allow your body to bounce about 1 centimetre up and down. Close your eyes and feel the bounce in your whole body. Imagine that you are holding a bowl or bottle of water, and each little bounce is creating waves of motion through the whole body of water. Then imagine that water is inside you, and feel the spring-back effect of rebounding to create a whole-body wave of motion. If you can’t feel this with up and down bouncing try to do the same with a side to side sway. Or physically go and get a bowl of water and stand with it in your hands as you sway very slightly back and forth. I use cups of water in my classes to demonstrate this, and most students report the moving water visual to be the trick that made rebounding click for them. Then place the bowl of water aside and close your eyes, returning to your side to side sway; stay connected to how it felt to watch the impact of the sway on the bowl of water. Can you feel the sensation of your body as a liquid mechanism? Did you know that your body is 75% liquid?

3. Perhaps most importantly is the attitude of your approach to stretching.

In MFR the main principle is to move in to the body slowly, gently, and very mindfully until the first layer of resistance is felt. The key is to gently lean into this barrier until it relaxes naturally. I like to think of that moment as though the body is graciously allowing me to enter it and make changes. To me this is the same approach as one of the most important principles of any yoga practice which is ahmisa, or non-violence. If I force through my body’s barriers, it feels violent, and usually there are no lasting results because my body resists me.

To apply this attitude to stretching, make sure you move slowly and mindfully into your poses. When you first become aware of the first sensation of ‘stretch,’ stop there and wait. In time (usually about three breaths or so) you will feel the body bow to you and allow you to go further. Then lean in until you find the next sensation of stretch. Wait there for that second release, and then go for the next. Move into your pose this way until you are at your full expression of the pose. It should take you 90 seconds to two minutes to get into your full pose, and from there hold for at least another minute. When you are ready to exit your pose, do so with slow deliberation. Let your yoga practice become a dance.

Think of it as entering a sacred and intimate relationship with your body. Love your body, and let it love you back; communicate with her, and co-operate with her. And in return you will begin to discover the most important relationship in your life: the relationship with your body. This body is the only lifelong friend you will ever have, there with you from the moment of your birth to the moment of your death. Understanding your fascial system is a great way to improve your relationship with your body, as well as to deepen your yoga practice. The fascia teaches us that everything in the body is connected, without exception. Getting to know this sense of connectivity from the inside helps to clarify that sense of connectivity in your whole life. We are all connected, from the cellular level to the cosmic level. Discovering this connection has been the most important realization of my life, and it can be found right here on the yoga mat.

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