Episode 017: Yin Yoga, Chinese Meridians and Fascia 101 with Jennifer O'Sullivan
In this episode, I’m joined by Jennifer O’Sullivan of Sati Yoga.
Jennifer has been teaching yoga in the Washington, DC area for more than a decade. While she’s studied a number of different yoga disciplines, she focuses on taking a heart-centered approach that interweaves the insights and practices of Yoga, Buddhism, Taoism, and Transpersonal Psychology.
She deeply believes in the power of yoga and mindful movement to heal the mind and body and to nurture the human spirit. She sees the yoga mat and the meditation cushion as laboratories for self-discovery and transformation.
Jennifer and I belong to a mastermind group for heart-centered entrepreneurs. A few months ago, she shared a resource on the Chinese Meridians and Yin Yoga that she created for her community.
I was first introduced to Yin Yoga when I dabbled with Bikram Yoga a few years ago. In my first yin yoga class, the lights were dimmed and the class was conducted by candlelight and I instantly fell in love with the practice. It was so peaceful and relaxing - something I hadn’t experienced in a regular yoga class.
While I love this type of yoga, I didn’t really know a lot about it. So when I read through Jen’s guide, I found it really informative, and I loved how she tied it to the Chinese meridians - something else I’ve been wanting to learn more about for a long time.
You’ll hear us talk about all of these things - Yin yoga, Chinese meridians, and she also gives a crash course on Fascia 101. Basically, Jen ties together things that I talk to my yoga teacher, acupuncturist, and chiropractor about, in a really interesting and meaningful way!
Mentioned In this Episode:
How to Connect with Jennifer O'Sullivan:
How to Connect with Naomi:
How to Listen and Share:
Click Here to Read the Episode Transcript...
Naomi: Today I'm joined by Jennifer O'Sullivan of Sati Yoga. Jennifer has been teaching yoga in the Washington D.C. area for more than a decade. While she's studied a number of different yoga disciplines she focuses on taking a heart centered approach that interweaves the insights and practices Yoga, Buddhism, Taoism and Transpersonal psychology. She deeply believes in the power of Yoga and mindful movement to heal the mind and body and to nurture the human spirit. She sees the Yoga mat and the meditation cushion as laboratories for self-discovery and transformation. Isn't that cool?
Now, Jenn and I belong to a business mastermind for heart centered entrepreneurs. A few months ago she shared with us a resource that she created for her community and it was on Chinese Meridians and Yin Yoga. I first took my Yin Yoga class many years ago when I dabbled with Bikram Yoga. In that first class, the lights were dimmed and the whole class was conducted by candlelight. It was something I'd never experienced before in a Yoga class and I instantly fell in love with the practice. I find it so peaceful and relaxing and quite honestly, that wasn't something I had experienced in a regular Yoga class before. I really like it.
Now, while I love Yin Yoga I really don't know that much about it. When I read through Jenn's guide I found it really informative and I love how she tied it to the Chinese Meridians, which is something else I've been wanting to learn about. You'll hear us talk about these things, Yin Yoga and Chinese Meridians, but you'll also hear us talk about Fascia, because this is another topic that Jenn also teaches about. Now, Fascia is something that is somewhat of a hot topic these days in the Yoga world and I'd even say in the running world, as well. Basically, Jenn ties together the things that I talk to my Yoga teacher, my Acupuncturist and my Chiropractor about, so it's a really interesting conversation and she pulls it all together in a really meaningful way. I hope you enjoy our conversation and without further ado, let's get to the show.
Hi Jennifer, welcome to the show.
Jennifer: Hi. Thank you, Naomi. Thank you for having me.
Naomi: For the listeners, Jennifer and I are in the same mastermind together. A few months ago she shared one of her resources that she has for her clients. It spoke so much to my heart, which I'll get more into in a little bit, but Jennifer teaches a special kind of Yoga that I think for those of us who work in a corporate world and we have all this stress going on, I think this is a very special type of Yoga that can be immensely helpful for those of us who are dealing with all those pressures that come with everyday work.
Why don't we start off, Jennifer, by having you introduce yourself.
Jennifer: Thank you. I am a Yoga and Meditation teacher. I live in the Washington D.C. metropolitan region in one of the Northern Virginia suburbs, so just across the river from downtown D.C. I've been teaching Yoga for almost 14 years. As soon as the end of the year wraps up I will have just finished my 14th year. I've been practicing for a few years longer than that. I got into Yoga during a kind of stressful point in my late 20s. I was working, it's funny because I was listening to one of your podcasts and you said that you survived the dot com bubble. So did I, but just barely.
Naomi: Just barely, but we did it.
Jennifer: Right. That was really funny because I was like exactly. I turned to Yoga in the year to, just after that when I was in a job that I enjoyed but was a bit fraught with a little bit of a toxic environment issue. I didn't have an appreciation for how much this was weighing on me until I started taking Yoga and I started taking better care of myself. It was like I came out of a fog and I was like, "Oh wait, I'm not in a good place," but because it was just after the dot com bubble burst, I didn't feel like I could leave because I felt lucky enough to have a job much less get to pick and choose a job.
I stuck through it and the Yoga tools that I was learning really helped me to in some ways compartmentalize what was going on in my office, make sense of it and take care of myself so that it wasn't taking over and sort of infecting my life in a way that would have been unhealthful. Especially in the long term. That's kind of what got me started. I took a class at a climbing gym, actually. I wasn't going to it for any kind of physical fitness. I went because all the cool climber kids said that it would help you with your climbing. A lot of people talked about how it would help with their mental composure, because climbing can be as much a mental game as it is a physical game.
The breathing helped too to help settle their nerves. I said I need that and so I took this first class and I'd actually taken a few Yoga classes here and there and it hadn't resonated. This particular class at this climbing gym was taught by a woman who basically lead us through exercises where we literally rolled around on the floor and she told us to pay attention and to watch our breath. I felt fantastic when I left. I used to tell people that one of the reasons why I liked rock climbing was because nothing shut down the negative chatter in my mind like trying not to die. I knew pretty instinctively that that wasn't really sustainable, but it was a way that helped that other kinds of things weren't helping.
This Yoga class, it was a little subtle shift. The more I went back, the more I started to feel better and it stuck around longer than the rock climbing. I later know, I know now what was going on but I certainly didn't have any understanding of what was going on at the time. I now see that I was accessing inner methods that teach you how to choose where your mind attends and what you focus on. This is a kind of inner freedom that I think we don't necessarily, although I think it's growing, have enough respect for in our culture. We value physical capacity. We value when children can sit still, but we don't think about what it means to be able to self-direct your mind. I think that's what, at least for me, Yoga has really helped me to do. Then I layered onto that meditation and I feel like I've put together a package of tools that it gets me through life, basically.
Naomi: Absolutely. Tell us a little bit more about the type of Yoga that you teach.
Jennifer: I'm going to try not to get too Yoga jargony because I'm guessing that a lot of people listening to your podcast aren't as imbedded in that sector as much as I am.
Naomi: I'm not, so if anything is unclear I'll ask.
Jennifer: Great. I'll just be like, what? Especially because you're on the West Coast and I'm on the East Coast. There actually is a little bit of a different set of styles that took root on the different coasts early on.
Naomi: Oh, interesting.
Jennifer: Yeah, it's not huge, but there's a little bit of a difference. In the West Coast you get off shoots of Iyingar Yoga, which is the alignment focused Yoga or Ashtanga, which is kind of the foundation for Vinyasa, the movement style practices. Now, on the East Coast we have that, too, but we also had some more, I'm going to put this in air quotes, "classical Hatha style", which would be Sivananda Yoga and Integral Yoga and even the Yoga that's at the Himalayan Institute. These are all Ashram's on the East Coast that were lead [crosstalk 00:08:37]
Naomi: Yeah, I’ve never seen any of those classes at my gym or local yoga studios.
Jennifer: Yeah, yeah, but they're here on the East Coast. In fact, where I live in Northern Virginia, about three hours away is a big Yoga Center Ashram, which for those of you who aren't familiar with Ashram's they're intentional communities and communal living environments where people go to practice and study Yoga and live together. It's called Yogaville and they have this big temple that, yeah, if you Google Yogaville you can see it. It's in the heart of Virginia, which is a little bit unexpected. Then there was another one called Kripalu Yoga, which originally was based in Pennsylvania. That, again, was lead by an Indian national who came to the United States to spread, I'm going to put it in air quotes again, " the classical style."
Eventually Kripalu, the Ashram grew and got enough money and they opened a big center in Massachusetts, which is still there today called the Kripalu Center. You can go there and do retreats and educational programs and so forth. My original teachers came through that Yoga family tree. The Kripalu tree, which is very different from what you would see in a normal, I'd say normal, but a more recognizable Yoga class. Like I said, we roll around on the floor and followed our breath and it was a lot more about the movement of energy than it was about getting fit. The body was almost kind of, it was a way to get to know yourself but that was only, I would say, how do I want to describe it? It's kind of like a gateway to the next level into your inner environment.
I practiced that for, I don't know, about 10 years. Then about, well my daughter was born eight and a half years ago, and shortly after she was born I realized that I needed a quieter practice, even though the style that I practiced at home was rather gentle compared to what you see. I did also enjoy Vinyasa and some of the more vigorous practices, but they were not serving me in my post-partum life. I started taking Yin classes and Yin Yoga is a quieter practice where the postures are held for several minutes and they're mostly seated or reclined postures. You don't move around a lot, you just kind of settle in and you stay and you can use this as an opportunity to meditate or just relax or ...
Naomi: By candlelight, too. Right?
Jennifer: Yeah, there's a lot of candlelight Yoga. They'll dim the lights and I often will pull out a lot of blankets and kind of cover myself up and just kind of hibernate for a few minutes. For me it was, especially at that time in my life, it was a more comfortable way to meditate. I think of Yin Yoga now as a gateway practice to a more formalized meditation practice. Right about the time that my daughter turned two, I was ready to take a little vacation from my family and I chose a residential training program in Yin with a really wonderful teacher named Biff Mithoefer who was also trained by the same Yoga teachers that I was. I felt like I was still in my family of Yoga practitioners, but I was also learning a new method.
I've been doing that now for about seven years. I've gone on to study with a really interesting woman who's West Coast based, actually, from Northern California. Sarah Powers who has been more deliberate in blending Buddhist meditation practices, psychological inquiry into the Yin practice, as well as the Chinese medicine and the Chinese Meridians and the energetic work from that.
Naomi: That brings me to a question I had for you on this resource that you shared with our group that you created. It is a free resource, so you can go to Jennifer's website that I'll link to in our show notes and you can download it. It is this beautiful resource on Yin Yoga. Just to give you guys just a little personal background, I first tried Yin Yoga probably about four or five years ago. This was during my year-long experiment with Bikram, which I don't do anymore. Friday nights they would have a Yin Yoga class and I was trying to get in as many free classes as I could in my first free week.
I went to this class and I had no idea what it was. It was at night and it was done by candlelight and I loved it. It is my most favorite form of Yoga, as I was just telling Jennifer before we started recording. I can only do so many sun salutations. I love it for the reasons you just said because I feel like it brings me closer to meditation and I feel that I go through ins and outs with meditation, and I find that when I do practice it regularly, which I truly tend to do a little bit more during the Autumn and the Winter. I find that my mind is a lot quieter. I sleep better and overall I feel a lot more balanced.
On this beautiful resource that you have, you talk about Yin Yoga and then you also talk about some elements of Chinese medicine with the Chi and with Chinese Meridian. Can you share with those of us who really don't know anything about it what those things are and how they're tied together with what you practice?
Jennifer: The philosophical roots for Yin Yoga come from Taoism, which is a Chinese based wisdom tradition that is contemporary to the Indian traditions that were emerging around 2,000 years ago in the Eastern Hemisphere. There's a lot of similarity between many of the Eastern wisdom traditions anyway, but there's a lot of overlap, I think, with Chinese medicine and Indian Hatha Yoga. There's a man named Dr. Motoyama who collaborated with Paul Grilley who is sort of credited as being the founder of Yin Yoga and also my teacher Sarah Powers to further illuminate the inner section points between Hatha Yoga and Chinese medicine. For reasons I don't have the history for, Paul and Sarah, too, really took to the Chinese method as a way to pair it up with Yin Yoga.
I think, if I were to guess, I would say it probably has to do with the fact that the Chinese system, perhaps, is maybe a little more fleshed out and there's just a little bit more detail and I guess you could call it fidelity in the practices. In that sense, because Chinese medicine also has roots in Taoism and in that way that they're linked. Taoists also had movement practices, longevity practices, grieving practices, so the fact that we're taking shapes that are often attributed to the Indian traditions and kind of grafting them onto the Chinese tradition is not so out of line, because there's only so many shapes that the body can take anyway, so I don't think any one tradition can own body shapes.
I was trained as a dancer and we did lots of warmups and stretching that you find in a Yoga class and we never associated that with Yoga at all.
Naomi: I think movements have so many different names, but it's the same thing.
Jennifer: Yeah, exactly. Burpees, sun salutation. For sure.
Naomi: That's why I don't like sun salutations, because I don't like burpees!
Jennifer: Me neither. They share this common root in Yoga and Chinese medicine and what resonates with me is that there's a blueprint that you can follow through the Meridian system and the Meridians are these channels of energy where it is said that the life force, that which animates us, flows through. In Chinese medicine they call it Chi. In Indian Hatha Yoga tradition it's called prana. It's the same thing. In fact, I studied Thai massage and it's called Zen in Thailand. It's all the same thing. Some people refer to it as the spark in the machine.
What's interesting about the Chinese tradition is they have about 14 primary channels, 12 of them mapped to very physical landmarks in the body that we can overlay onto what we understand in human anatomy and therefore target them. For instance, the kidney meridian runs along the inseam of the leg and up through the torso. It's companion, the urinary bladder meridian, starts from the top of the head and runs down along the spine on either side of the actual spine and then down the back seam of the legs where you would have, you know, those pantyhose that have the seam. Right along that spot is where the urinary bladder. The kidney and the urinary bladder go together. We can associate different properties with them whether it's physical properties, emotional, energetic, mental characteristics, and we can start to look at different imbalances.
Because these meridians have physical landmarks, we can say oh, if I'm feeling rigid and inflexible, which points to kidney imbalances, maybe if I target those physical landmarks I might then tug on those meridian tissues, or the tissues that the meridians run through and then I can effect those meridians. This is the same part, these are the same channels that acupuncturists use to treat patients with acupuncture. The difference is that acupuncturists get, they get more resolution because the needles are so small. They can get to specific points in the body. You can also do acupuncture, which you can use your thumb or your fingers and you can press on different parts. You start to lose a little resolution because thumbs and fingers are not as precise as needles. When it comes to the Yin Yoga postures you've really zoomed out and you have much less fidelity, but you still are targeting the meridians.
The idea being that you can effect the energy flow through the meridians by tugging on them whether it's recirculating stagnant Chi or unblocking Chi that's not moving through the body freely. That can effect your overall health and well being.
Naomi: What she just described is exactly what this resource that I keep talking about is. She has visuals and illustrations of all the meridians that she just mentioned, as well as all of the Yoga poses that support those different meridians. Like I said, I'll definitely link to it in the show notes. The reason why it caught my attention is because I do see an acupuncturist on a pretty regular basis. We have these conversations and I'm not an expert in Chinese medicine so I don't ... I actually plan to have her on the show in a few weeks, but when I saw your resource I was like oh, this makes so much more sense to me because I was able to kind of marry things together and I know a lot of people that I talk to they also see an acupuncturist and we have the same conversations where I can't really explain it, but it works. It helped me, it gave me so much more understanding and it's been able to help me have better conversations with my acupuncturist, as well.
Jennifer: Yeah, I do the same thing with my guy, my Dr. Thomas who I adore. I talk to him a lot about well, what are you working on with me and why? I'll go home and I'll look it up. I have a big thick text book of Chinese medicine that he recommended for me. He'll say okay, well we're working on stomach and spleen. I'll go home and I'll add stomach and spleen poses because why not? Here's the thing, I know that sometimes we start to think this is a little woo, woo and I do want to say that I don't treat this as a substitute for actual medical care.
Naomi: Oh absolutely.
Jennifer: First of all I do think placebo is a thing that is underappreciated in the medical community, but at the end of the day the body heals itself. All of the interventions that we have through the medical system whether it's the allopathic system or the complimentary systems, whether it's herbs or drugs or whatever, those things they'll eliminate pathogens but what's left is an environment that the body needs to reconstruct for itself. To the extent that we can be intentional and conscientious about our wellness, I think we create the ideal environment for healing to occur.
Naomi: You're creating the environment to allow your body to do that on its own.
Jennifer: Yes, and that includes diet, it's a whole lifestyle smorgasbord.
Naomi: It's what we mean by holistic. I mean literally the word whole with istic. That's how I look at it. You can not silo these things and I think in the background where everything was very siloed. Now I realize that it all works together. I do want to say that there's nothing wrong with woo, woo. I am all about education sand self-awareness, building self-awareness and empowerment and this is just another tool in your bucket to allow yourself for those things to happen.
Jennifer: Yeah, and one of the things that I did when I put out the meridian guide was I put a lot of information and my hope is that when people look at that they'll start to think about their life a little more. They'll start to look at patterns in their life. They'll start to see when they feel not so great. I know you've talked in one of your podcasts about making the journal. You're paying attention to their moods, you might start to notice patterns that trigger different mental states that are maybe skillful or unskillful. At the end of the day, this is all about self-inquiry and it's never a bad thing to take the time to understand yourself.
Naomi: Here's the thing, too and I am going to have my integrative medicine doctor who is an MD, I am going to have him on the show because I have these conversations with him all the time where I do keep a journal and I do all these things and I present him with data. Real data that he can use where I'm not walking into this appointment saying well I don't feel good and then I can't really explain or express what's going on and then that leaves him at a loss and he's guessing, too. Doing all these things, what you talked about with journal, all these things help and they all make a difference.
Jennifer: Yeah, so I hope that even if, whether the poses work or not I think the real depth of integrating a system like Chinese medicine onto other practices, it just gets you thinking about your life a lot more and looking for patterns and just knowing yourself. Only when we start to see what's there can we make any changes.
Naomi: That's so beautifully put. I want to shift a little bit, maybe it's not a shift. I noticed something when I was on your website today and you have something called Fascia 101. Tell us a little bit what that is. The reason why this caught my eye is because I also see a chiropractor that I've been seeing since 2010 and I'm mainly sort of seeing her because I have a lot of injuries from running. She does active release therapy, ART, and whenever I talked about what it is with her she said, "Well, you have adhesions in your fascia and we're trying to break up those adhesions." I thought well what are adhesions? I'm kind of familiar with what this is, but I've never seen anyone offer an offering about it before. Tell us about it.
Jennifer: Okay, back up a little bit and say that one of the differentiators with Yin Yoga is that instead of targeting the muscle tissues, the poses, because you sit still and because you're not doing repetitive movements like you would if you were at the gym. Instead of targeting the muscles you're targeting the connective tissue and the fascia. Fascia and muscles need different nutrition and fascia, because of its composition, appreciates, at least in this way, slow, steady loads.
Naomi: Connective tissue and fascia, meaning it connects the muscles together?
Jennifer: Yeah, thank you for interrupting me because I just assume everybody knows this stuff. Connective tissue is a ubiquitous material in the body. It surrounds everything. It surrounds our organs, it surrounds our cells, it surrounds our muscles, it connects muscles to bones, it wraps around bones, it's actually inside bones, it's ligaments, cartilage, all of it. The primary substance of fascia is collagen. We all know about collagen because we want to put it on our skin to make us look younger. You know, it's collagens to everything these days.
Collagen is the main component of fascia and also this liquidy substance. Fascia, technically, is a subset of connective tissue because connective tissue would include ligaments and tendons and things like that. Often times those terms get used interchangeable just for convenience. Sometimes I just call it CT. With Yin Yoga we're mostly looking at what some of you may have heard is the myofascia. Myo refers to muscle and then we're talking about the fascia that's around the muscle. It's there on different layers. It's not just a wrapper around the outside, but it's actually all the way to the microscopic level. It's wrapping around muscle bundles and individual muscle fibers. It's pretty wild. It trips me up every time.
Yin Yoga targets this and you know, I'm not one to just say, "Oh, well my teachers told me this, so therefore it must be true." I always want to verify everything I hear, especially in Yoga because sometimes we take a little bit of heat for saying stuff that doesn't always end up holding up.
Naomi: You must be a questioner.
Jennifer: Oh gosh, yeah. I never stop. I started to, there's a guy out in the world named Tom Myers and I first learned about him when I took time massage training because he's much more well known in the body work community. He's connected with structural integration, which is also called Rolfing, which you may have heard of. It's a rather intense type of body work. Rolfing and the structural integration, they target the fascia. He became this kind of guy known for fascia. At the time it really seemed like the per view of massage therapists and I kind of didn't pay much attention to it. Once I started studying Yin Yoga and they were always talking about fascia I'm like well I better go and learn a little bit more.
I took some courses with Tom Myers and that turned me on to some other researchers. I started reading all these kind of textbooky kind of books. I also started taking courses both in person and online with a guy named Eric Franklin who has nothing to do with Yoga, but he does all these different movement modality stuff. I have trouble describing what he does, but he's interesting to dance teachers and palates teachers, so he has a fascia thing. Then I studied with a Yoga teacher who is also a biomechanist named Jewels Mitchell and she's talking about fascia. In the Yoga world, there's a certain sector in the Yoga world that's just exploding about fascia.
I learned all this stuff and it was nothing like what I go from Yin Training. I felt a little bit like some of the benefits to Fascia were being oversold in the Yin community and then some people who are concerned about the safety of targeting Fascia were catastrophizing and I didn't need to. I thought okay, now I have all this information I should share it. I lead and in person workshop at the studio where I work and, you know, most Yoga workshops you're thinking of movement and there's lots of activity. I, for the first time in my life, somehow I got through my whole professional life never doing a power point presentation. I make a key note presentation because I'm a MAC user, and so I still never really used power point.
I made them my first slide show and I had everybody sit on the floor because everything happens while sitting on the floor at a Yoga studio and I lead a three hour slide show. I thought there's no reason why I have to do this in person. Yeah, I got to answer some questions and there's always a meaningful exchange when you're face-to-face with someone, but no, this is better. Around that time I was looking for some things to put online. I thought, this is it. This is the thing I want to put on mine. Basically, the Fascia 101 is an anatomy presentation with as much interesting stuff as I can throw in and make it exciting for people to understand what fascia is and why we should care about it and how we can train it. It's not just Yin Yoga, we train it in all kinds of different ways and really how fascia and connective tissue more broadly plays a really big role in how we feel in our bodies. I just find it really exciting to talk about adhesions.
Adhesions come from scar tissue, so you have an injury and then these special cells called fibroblasts, they go in, produce more of the tissues that you need to heal that wound that comes from whatever injury you've received. An injury can come from something that you accidentally do to yourself, and it can also come from scar tissue from a surgery or something like that.
Naomi: Or from running, that's where all my injuries came from.
Jennifer: We can injure ourselves accidentally and also by putting ourselves under the knife. The fibroblasts go in there and they overkill. They make more than is necessary to reinforce a tender area lets say. Compared to the tissues around it, that becomes an area that doesn't move as easily as it used to or the stuff around it. If you think of fascia as a piece of fabric, if you have a snag in one part and you try to pull on it, it might not move past that snag. You're not getting the full range of motion of that fabric or that tissue. That's one way.
Another way of getting adhesions is through inactivity. Now, I want to caveat that with inactivity can be sitting around and never leaving your couch. I say this because if you look at our overall lifestyle, I think we have a couch lifestyle even if we're not always on the couch because we go from our bed, after hopefully getting eight hours of sleep, then we kind of muck around our kitchen, but then we might sit down to have breakfast. Then we get in our cars and we drive somewhere to go sit all day in front of something. We might go to lunch so we get up a little bit and move to where we have lunch and we get up and move and go back to our desk. We get back in our car, we go home, we might muck around in our kitchen a little bit and then we sit down and eat. We clean everything up and maybe we put our kids to bed and then we go sit on the couch and we watch TV. Then we move from the couch to the bed and we barely moved. Even if we go to the gym and we work out, even if we worked everyday in a 24 hour period with one hour of meaningful activity, which is just not enough.
When we're immobile, when we're couch sitting, which most of us do, those little fiber blasts that I was telling you about, they just kind of sit there and they make more collagen. They make more fascia. They make more connective tissue and it's everywhere. If you get up and move regularly the brand new stuff that has just been created is not very strong and it will just kind of get broken up. When you exercise an enzyme called protease, some of you may have heard that. Every now and then I hear about protease. It actually breaks down proteins and you kind of want that so that you don't build up too much fascia. When you build up too much, those are called adhesions and they inhibit mobility. Those adhesions can be wrapped around your muscles, they can be imbedded in your muscles, they can be around your organs. Adhesions can be anywhere that there's fascia and fascia is everywhere.
Naomi: It's interesting you say this because I was just having a conversation with some of my other practitioners because I battled SIBO for a couple of years now and there's a belief that adhesions of the digestive tract are affected because like you said, it inhibits motility. Interesting that you brought that up and that's why I'm nodding my head because I literally had a conversation about this.
Jennifer: Yeah, so this is important for our overall health. We need on top of it, I'm just giving away all of the data. All of my big reveal, rather, in my Fascia 101 is that at the end of the day we need to move a lot more than we do so we need to think about ways of building in movement. I'm not talking about vigorous exercise. Whenever you get on the phone walk around. Put a headset on and move around. Here's the thing, a standing desk does have good benefits but you're still not moving if you're just standing there all day. You need to move around. Even if you did a walking desk, if you're only moving in one plane of motion, you're still neglecting a lot of other fascia in the body.
The second thing in addition to just moving around a lot more is to create meaningful fascia, we also need to move in a variety of ways. Tom Myers rather calls different vectors. It's not just, like in Yoga we only move, especially with sun salutations, forward and backward. One plane of movement. Maybe we sometimes take our arms out to the side, maybe we turn a little to one side, but it's one plane of movement. If you do weight, one plane of movement because you're doing repetition all the time. Although, machine workouts are worse because you're even more restricting your movements to one track. Free weights are better than machine weights. I think, I like things like TRX because you can move in a variety of directions at different angles and because they're unstable, it also recruits a lot more of your whole body into the action so that you're getting a more meaningful full body exercise even when you're targeting one area.
Naomi: I just did TRX today, so you're making me feel good about my workout.
Jennifer: I love it. I wish I had a high enough ceiling and the right situ ... I would have one at home if I could have one, or a set. Then, what else? We also need a variety of speeds, so like Yoga is very good, especially in a movement based Yoga, is very good for balance, endurance, learning how to control movement which is very important, but we also need to run. Not just for the cardiovascular health, but we need the bounce because bouncing and that impact trains up certain connective tissue like your tendons to be better at being tendons because they are more elastic and they need to be trained that way.
For instance, if you want to be the Michael Jordan of basketball and able to jump really high, then you need to train that way by jumping a lot. We need to bounce, we need to run, we need to change directions. I love HIT, I don't know if you've ever done a HIT class. I love it because it's so much variety, which is, for me, good for my mind because I like that but it's so good for the body, too. Fast things, slow things, strong things, mobility things. All that kind of stuff. We need all of it and we need to figure out a way of embedding it in our life so that we do more than just, if we're lucky, an hour a day.
There's a woman that I like to follow. Her name is Katie Bowen. She used to have a website called Katie Says, and now I think it's called, I don't remember what she's calling it. I'll look it up and I'll send you the link. I didn't expect to talk about her or I would have looked it up before. She's an interesting person. She talks a lot about embedding natural movement into our life, so she advocates crazy stuff. Like, get rid of all your chairs in the house so that you have to get up and down off the floor all the time. She even cooks on the floor in her kitchen and she talks about squatting and I mean, she's kind of the extreme for me, but you know, one thing that I did and I encourage a lot of people to do, you know, these days our kids don't often walk to school. Even if you're driving your kids to school you could drive and park one mile away and then walk with them the last mile. Then you get some exercise in.
Park further away from the entrance to wherever you're going. My office just moved so now we're on the 12th floor. I used to climb all the stairs because we were only on the third floor before. Now I get off at the ninth floor and I climb the rest of the way. I don't think I can do the whole 12 without showing up kind of sweaty, but you know, just sneak it in somewhere where you're doing more than just trudging to your desk and trudging back to your couch everyday. That's a lesson of fascia.
Naomi: That was so fascinating. That was more than I thought we'd cover! Wow, and you know that is going to, based on my experience, I think that's going to appeal that conversation about fascia to so many people because I kind of feel like it's starting to be a more talked about thing.
Jennifer: Yeah, what I don't talk about in that class, because I'm still not sure about it, is myofascial release. You know, rolling around on the foam roller and all the tennis balls. I'm starting to believe, and I'm not the only one, that it doesn't meaningfully change your tissues. What's happening is more of a nervous system thing, which I don't think is a bad thing. I think that's actually okay. I do think we need to be careful when we think oh, I'm going to foam roll my IT band and make it longer. The IT band is probably one of the strongest tissues in the whole body. It's not getting rolled out. It's not going to get longer because you're rolling on it. I wonder about people's nervous systems. They're always in pain while they're doing it.
Naomi: Yeah, I was just going to say that was never a fun thing for me to do.
Jennifer: No, and I'm not convinced that it's worth it so I stopped doing it.
Naomi: I honestly didn't really do it, either. Well, I have so enjoyed our conversation.
Jennifer: Yeah, me too.
Naomi: Where can people connect with you and learn more about you and your offering?
Jennifer: My website is www.sati, that's s-a-t-i dot yoga. That's one of those newer top level domains. It will actually get you there. No dot com. That's probably the best way. I am on Facebook at Sati Yoga and Wellness, I think. I'm on Instagram, but I don't really post much on Instagram at Sati Jen, J-e-n.
Naomi: Awesome, well I will link to all these things on the show notes. Thank you so much.
Jennifer: You're very welcome.
Naomi: I really enjoyed it. I so appreciate everything that you've said and all the resources that you have, so I really encourage listeners to go and check you out.
Jennifer: Thank you!
Hi, I'm Naomi
I’m an expert in Functional Nutrition, a nerd when it comes to clean living, and my obsession is debunking fad diets and weight loss myths by teaching others where food meets physiology so they understand where health and healing truly begins.
A San Francisco Bay Area-based health coach, 21-Day Sugar Detox Coach, podcaster and puppy mama to Coco Pop, my happiest days are spent empowering health-conscious women to speak their truth and become leaders in their own healthcare.