Anneke Louise (MSc, C-IAYT)
Fascia: the Psychosomatic Web Connecting Body & Mind
Updated: May 19, 2022
That our physical and mental-emotional bodies are deeply interconnected is not a new concept.
The ancient yogis theorized this centuries ago through the ‘Pancha Maya Kosha’ model, meaning the five layers of our being from grossest to the most subtle.
In this model the different sheaths or layers such as the physical body and also the mental-emotional body are distinguished and at the same time said to inform each other and be inseparable.
In the last decades Biomedical Science has caught up with numerous research acknowledging this connection, and opening up the Western mind to an increasing array of body related therapy to heal mental disorders such as stress, anxiety disorders and even trauma.
It is believed by many professionals in the field that addressing habitual tension and stress patterns through healing movement and a body-centered approach can release psychological trauma.
And, guess what? Working with the Fascia gives us key ways to do this.
Fascia is the body-wide all-encompassing network of connective tissue that wraps in and around the body like a Spiderman suit.
Science has found that the fascial network surrounding the muscles (‘myofascia’) down to the very small muscle fibres contains far more sensory nerve endings than the ones found in the muscle itself.
Our nervous system is using these sensory nerves endings to constantly pick up signals from our outer and inner environment, relaying these messages to the brain for interpretation and potential motor output (‘action’).
Robert Schleip, an expert on Fascia, therefore refers to it as a sensory tissue; intertwined with the nervous system. Hence the Fascia is a key facilitator in this body-mind communication and we can actually use the Fascia to influence the state of our nervous system (and consequently our mind)!
The main part of the Nervous System that we want to be looking at when working with mental health is the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS), with its two branches: the Sympathetic (SNS) ‘fight or flight’ and Parasympathetic (PSNS) ‘rest and digest’. When the SNS response is activated the heart beat goes up, blood pressure rises and muscle tone increases. Our body gets ready for the moment of ‘fight or flight’. In the case of chronic stress and anxiety for instance these physical responses tend to become more permanent.
So how can Fascia work help in this?
Targeted release, one of our six building blocks in our ‘Healthy Fascia Approach’ is fundamental in this.
Fascia scientists found that through vibratory techniques and also forms of myofascial release we are able to tap directly into the sensory nerve endings in the Fascia which are responsible for increasing our inner awareness (‘interoception’). This greatly increases the body-mind connection and the ability to be better at ‘holding space’ for ourselves – essential when it comes to healing trauma.
At the same time these sensors send signals to the spinal cord, which in turns changes the muscle tension, blood pressure and heart rate; activating the 'rest and digest' PSNS, which is key when it comes to healing.
‘Resting in stretch’ (another of our six building blocks) also has incredible results. By doing prolonged stretches we not only increase interoception, but it actually inhibits on sympathetic activity all together!
Care to join us in our effects to create Healthy Fascia and hence a more embodied and healthy feeling of aliveness and mental health?
You are very welcome!