In this class we focus on bio-tensegrity, connection to core, and the sliding and gliding of fascial tissues.
The term tensegrity was first popularized in the 1960s by American artist, mathematician and architect, R. Buckminster Fuller. The term was used to describe systems or structures with “Tensional Integrity” (Tension + Integrity = Tensegrity). Most typical structures that are man-made are stabilized in compression using gravitational forces, such as seen in a typical building construction. However, tensegrity systems are quite different in this respect as they are stabilized by continuous tension and discontinuous compression. In this way the tensegrity systems act like one continuous net of tension with compression components floating within the tensional net without making contact to any other compression components.
In 1977, David Robbie proposed that tensegrity could be used to describe the functioning of the human musculoskeletal system. Soon afterwards the term biotensegrity came into use to describe the overall tensegrity support system of biological organisms. In biology, the expression of tensegrity is infinitely more complex and dynamic than previously described. The continuous net of tension that is formed primarily through the fascia network, constantly changes and 6 morphs in order to adapt to the internal and external requirements of the biological system. Unlike the earlier tensegrity applications that used fixed geometry for the net of continuous tension, in biotensegrity the geometry of the fascia network itself is constantly changing, creating new tensional connections whenever the need arises. This dynamic relationship is fractal in nature and scales right down to the cellular level of the biological system. Biotensegrity, in essence, describes the application of tensegrity to the biomechanical forces expressed in all biological life. It describes how cells, tissues, organs and bones are able to dynamically self-stabilize, and explains how a direct mechanical stress applied at the macro level can influence the entire system right down to the molecular structure and function inside the living cells of a system.
The principle of biotensegrity explains how dynamic yet stable functioning is achieved in the whole human organism. Biotensegrity applies to the hierarchical systems of functioning in the body, and explains the interconnection between the cells, tissue, organs, bones, and whole musculoskeletal system. When an external force or restriction in the continuous net of tension of the human organism occurs (either in the ligaments, tendons, muscles, organs, or fascia) this affects the whole biological system including the health and function of the cells themselves. As we become more aware of this multi-dimensional network throughout our entire body, we also become -better able to transmit force through our body with ease and resilience. When applying the tensegrity/biotensegrity model to our yoga practice, we start to discover our true range of motion in a given moment, which allows our awareness to become clearer on the sensations we are experiencing in the body.
Benefits may start arising:
• Space and openness in areas of the body
• Deepening, lengthening and slowing down of the breath
• Feeling of being supported by a column of air and energy
• Feeling of lightness in the body accompanied by a heavy rooted connection to the earth with the feet
• Fluid quality to movements and the movement of energy in the body
• Mind becomes calmer
• A centerline of support (core) starts to become more apparent
• Our bones feel light as if “suspended and floating in a web of support”
• The body starts to feel more stable and strong, working more as a full unit of support
Fascia is the soft tissue component of the connective tissue system that permeates the human body. The fascia system forms a continuous tensional network throughout the human body and envelopes every element of the body, including the muscles, organs, bones, nerves, arteries and veins.
Fascia includes the tissue of the joint capsules, ligaments, and tendons as well as the tissue surrounding the organs of the body. It includes the tissue of the skin and the dense planar tissue sheets of the body. For this reason, the fascia can be called the “organ of structure” for the human body as it largely determines the shape and movement of the body.
When the fascia is healthy and in good condition, force is transmitted through the body with ease, fluidity and vitality. Healthy fascia is highly elastic and resilient, and provides a high level of stability during dynamic loading, which in turn provides for a high degree of injury -prevention. However, when the fascia health is compromised, this will result in a loss of elasticity and resilience, and injury to the body occurs more easily. With an injury or excessive strain, it is the fascia that often adapts to stabilize the local area by shortening, thickening, and adhering to neighbouring structures in the body. This will affect the whole structure of the body and often results in fatigue, misalignment, discomfort and restriction of movement.
The fascia of the body tells a story of a person’s life, all events are reflected in the fascia including physical and emotional trauma. When there is an adhesion in the fascia it is often a sign that the communication in the body has been compromised to some degree. In order to bring the fascia back to a healthy condition and function we need to restore this communication in the fascia network of the body.
The fascia network of the body serves the following functions:
1. Provides a sliding and gliding environment for muscles and organ structures.
2. Suspends organs in their proper place.
3. Segments the different structures and functions of the body.
4. Transmits movement from muscles to bones.
5. Provides a supportive and movable wrapping for nerves and blood vessels.
6. Provides a supportive structure for the entire musculoskeletal system.
7. Stores and releases the kinetic energy generated by muscular and gravitational forces.
The fascia is also highly innervated with sensory nerve endings and has the ability to actively contract to some degree. It serves as the primary system for proprioception and for our feeling of embodied awareness.
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