Fascia: Everything is connected!

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From our skin down to the nucleus and inner skeleton of our 30 trillion cells, we are a continuous body wide matrix of fascia. The systemic continuity of fascia became clear to me several years when I did a fascinating Biotensegrity focused cadaver dissection. I saw how anatomical structures are only separate when they are arbitrarily cut away from surrounding tissues by a scalpel. The vast fascial network creates unity, continuity, and relationship throughout our bodies by connecting all structures into one continuous tensional scaffolding.

With an abundance of forms on a continuum from liquid (blood) to firm (bone), our fascial system forms a multidimensional collagenous web surrounding, permeating and separating structures from top to bottom, inside to outside, on all levels of scale from cells to gross structures. Fascia holds our cells, nerves, bones, and organs in place but also exists as ligaments and tendons, and as a fatty “body suit” underneath our skin. Relationships are created among anatomical parts through compartments and segments within the continuous fascial web, so that when one structure moves, everything moves. Or when one structure is dysfunctional, the whole body suffers.

Fascial form and qualities depend on local function and the internal and external biomechanical forces exerted on it. How we move and use our bodies counts! We can improve the health of our fascia by intentionally moving in specific ways with interoceptive awareness… slow, connected, and mindful. As we move, we ask ourselves, “Which parts are moving, which parts are supporting, and can I sense their connection?”

From the perspective of the fascial system, body and mind are inseparable, and all movement involves the whole body. As the physical representation of wholeness, fascia can be directly experienced by cultivating interoceptive awareness of its presence, structure, and qualities, and by practising whole body movements with fascial awareness. As we explore different parts of the body, we remember how the fascial matrix contains everything, connects everything, and allows all parts to communicate. We can embody this awareness of continuity in experiential anatomy practices to create integrity and flow in movement and life. As a meta-system, the health of the fascial system affects the health of all other systems; if fascia is pathologically dense, adhered, congested, or inflamed, physiology and movement capacity of surrounding structures suffers. We may feel stuck, rigid, or uncoordinated. Experiential anatomy practices can encourage our fascial network to intelligently adapt and support us by consciously balancing compression and tension forces and encouraging resilient elasticity. Fascial awareness goes far beyond the physical; contemplating the physical multidimensionality of fascia reminds us of our multi dimensional connections with others, Nature, and the universe. We start with the physical and unfold into the spiritual.

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