I have been asked over and over if Myofascial Yoga is like Yin Yoga.
In the last six months or so I have taken a Yin Yoga training course and attended multiple classes so that I could get a feel for what it is, and discover a way to answer that question. And you know what? I fell in love with it!! Yin Yoga is a sweet and beautiful practice. I am still so new to it, however, that I can’t yet fully compare what I am doing to this amazing system. So instead of jumping in and attempting to do so, I will describe my practice in detail and allow the Yin Yogis to point out any similarities and differences.
What I have created with Myofascial Yoga is a system that explores natural, functional movement and our obstacles to achieving it.
John Barnes often talks about healthy bio-mechanical movement being the goal, but we can’t arrive at that point if there are restrictions interrupting the biotensegrity of the whole fascial system. Understanding biotensegrity as a principle of healthy movement is one of the main principles of Myofascial Yoga. Balancing the fascial system is an ongoing process that requires the combined effort of releasing stuck areas, rebounding the fluids, unwinding new pathways, and bringing unconscious movement patterns into conscious awareness. As John likes to say: “Without awareness there is no choice.” My goal is to facilitate as much choice as possible in every class, in order to help you achieve functional movement through life.
When our fascial web is inhibited by too many restrictions we will unconsciously and automatically find a ‘new normal.’
This new normal is a way of adapting our movements to accommodate the restriction. When we uncover and release it instead of compromising our posture on its behalf, we may feel uncomfortable or misaligned at first, so the unconscious pattern of movement runs the risk of remaining our ‘default mode.’ The release is the first step; the second is finding a healthier normal, which would be conscious movement.
Long held passive poses are one of several ways to release fascial restrictions. Other options include gentle sustained pressure with a myofascial ball, Myofascial Unwinding, and Myofascial Rebounding (more on these later).
After that, we need to also explore new and biomechanically sound movement patterns. Unwinding (pandiculating) and rebounding are incorporated into the classes to facilitate neuromuscular re-education. In addition, small natural motions that mimic everyday actions (like walking or getting up and down from a chair) are done in mindfulness in order to explore habitual movement patterns and create conscious awareness, change, and functionality.
A typical Myofascial Yoga class might look something like this:
• Lying on Myofascial Yoga balls and ‘following the fascial voice’ to uncover and release restrictions.
• Gentle rhythmic movements to break up holding patterns and create new pathways.
• Passive poses to release fascia and transition fascial fluid (gel to sol transition).
• Gentle rebounding to break up habitual movement compensation patterns.
• Unwinding to introduce the brain and nervous system to new, healthy, natural movements.
• Movement re-education done in mindfulness: practice of natural everyday movements executed with conscious awareness.
• Other forms of movement and stretching like PNF, resistance stretching, and muscle energy techniques to continue exploring ways to move and study biotensegrity (which may or may not look like the old traditional yoga poses).
• Functional strength movements done in mindfulness.
• More passive poses to settle the nervous system.
• Relaxation and mindfulness meditation.
Fascia is a non-linear system and requires a ‘meet it where it is right now’ approach.
Because of this, the classes do not always follow this exact sequencing. Some exercises might be added, others subtracted, and the order might change accordingly. But I wanted to give you an idea of what a class could look like, with the intention of accessing and freeing up this amazing tissue (and liquid!).
I hope this clears up some uncertainty as to whether Myofascial Yoga and Yin Yoga are the same thing.
Please don’t hesitate to ask me questions in the comments here or to send me a message at any time. I am always here, rooting for your health and wellness.