Fascia is the connective tissue throughout your body. It can be found in your toes and all the way to the top of your head. Fascia is thin and flexible and is predominantly made up of collagen. Fascia surrounds organs, muscles, nerves, tendons, and ligaments. It helps these different body parts connect to each other and also connects the skin to the tissue and muscles beneath it. One of my teachers, Tami Lynn Kent, describes fascia like cling-wrap – thin, flexible, can be scrunched up or smoothly spread out.
From injury, repetitive movements, posture, and infection fascia can become tight and constricted, which in turn pulls on the muscles or organs it is connected to. This leads to a pulling effect on areas of the body that are not in the location of the fascial constriction and is why, for example, fascial constriction in the vagina and pelvic floor region can contribute to a stooping posture. It is not uncommon that when women have fascial release treatment in the pelvic region they feel like they can finally stand upright with more mobility in their torso.
In yoga classes it is possible to work on fascia when you hold a pose for a longer duration, maybe for 10 slow breaths, like in a Yin class. During this time your muscles are relaxing as you continue to breathe which then allows the stretch to work directly on the fascia. These poses are usually passive like Mundakasan (Frog Pose) so that you can hold the position gently, although it can certainly become intense due to the duration of the hold. Have you ever heard your yoga teacher telling you to surrender into the pose? This is to encourage you to release the muscle tension so the stretch can get to the fascia, where the real magic takes place.
Acupuncture recognises fascia as the physical manifestation of the meridians and needles are often places in locations of the body where there is a bundling of constricted fascia, which may represent blockages in the meridians. Because fascia is a connective tissue matrix that links each body part with the rest of the body, it is revered for its uniting qualities and demonstrates how it is impossible to compartmentalise one bodily area from the rest.
To work directly on fascia with your hands you only need a light pressure, like the weight of a coin, otherwise you are likely pressing too hard and working directly on the muscle, going straight through the fascia. However, press too lightly and you are only working on the superficial tissues like skin. Sometimes when releasing constricted fascia, immediate release of congestion and tension is felt by the woman receiving treatment and the therapist (or the woman alone if she is working on herself).
Treatment and release of fascia is an important part of Ananda Woman’s approach to resolving pelvic health issues. It is a gentle technique and can have immediate results. It is also possible that these simple techniques are taught and for women to work independently on themselves.