Is fascia yin or yang?

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Bernie
Posts: 1179
Joined: Sat Sep 23, 2006 2:25 am
Location: Vancouver

Is fascia yin or yang?

Post by Bernie »

I recently received the following question:
  • Hi, I read your book 'The philosophy and practice of Yin Yoga'. I am a bit confused about the category of fascia/facial tissues. Is it a Yin tissue or Yang tissue

    Namaste
Is fascia yin or yang?

The answer is “it depends,. It depends upon what context you are evaluating it in. I am wearing a black shirt with white pants: is the shirt yin or yang? If the context is brightness, then the shirt is yin (darker) relative to the pants (lighter). However, if the context is location, the shirt, being higher, is yang relative to the pants, which are lower. Consider a cup of hot coffee: is the coffee yin or yang? It depends. If the context is heat, the coffee is yang. If the context is color or brightness, the coffee is yang.

Regarding fascia, then, here is a quote from the second edition of The Complete Guide to Yin Yoga (page 6-7):
Remember the white dot within the paisley swirl of the yin and yang symbol? Within yang there is yin and vice versa. is also applies to our tissues. Consider muscle, which we just described as a yang tissue. Even here we will find yin within yang: 30% of what we call our muscle is actually fascia. As we will discover, the fascia within our muscles governs the muscles' range of movement, while our muscle cells govern their strength. Yang yoga is great at developing the yang attribute of strength within our muscles but, surprisingly perhaps, it is the yin part of our practice, the holding of the pose, that develops length.

Within our yin tissues, we also find yang elements. In our fascia and ligaments, which are predominantly yin-like, there are contracting fibers, just like within our muscles. We also find elastic fibers called elastin within our yin tissues. So there is yang within yin here too: our connective tissues can contract and shorten.


So, is fascia yin or yang? It depends again upon the context: it terms of stiffness, most fascia is stiffer than muscles and thus yin. In terms of water content, however, some fascia is very dry (yang)-such as ligaments or tendons-relative to muscles, but other fascia is very moist (like our superficial fascia) and thus yin, relative to bones (dry and thus yang.) Relative to position, skin is yang (most outer or superficial) and fascia is yin (more interior or deep).

When we talk about Yin Yoga targeting the fascial tissues, we are implicitly using the context of flexibility to differentiate fascia from muscles. In this context it is safe to say fascia is yin relative to the stretchier muscles, but there are never absolutes. There are some fascia that is actually stretchier than our muscles. But, by and large, fascia is stiffer than the average skeletal muscle.

I hope this helps, but I can understand the confusion.

Cheers
Bernie
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