I recently participated in a weekend workshop that certified me in MIPA work (Myofascial Integration and Postural Alignment). It was amazing to learn more techniques to use when working with fascia and the adhesions and tension it can hold. However I learned more than just physical techniques. Fascia is the tissue that lines everything in the body, every muscle and every organ, even the bones (much like sausage skin). When we use our bodies in repetitive ways, it brilliantly lays down thicker fascia in order to make it easier to hold those postures. Unfortunately that can lead to us holding painful positions and returning to them out of habit. This is easily seen today with many people having rounded backs and tight chests from staring down at our computers and phones and tablets. It can also be caused from habitual ways of interacting with people. Some people tend to hang their heads to shy away from awkward encounters others maintain tension in their hips and jaws from clenching back their expression.
Part of the work I do is breaking down and stretching these tissues back out so people can sit taller and find ease and space in their bodies. However, simply stretching out tissues does not lead to a cure or guarantee someone won’t return to the old posture after a day or even an afternoon. So what does? The body needs the chance to become reeducated and renegotiate its relationship with gravity. In a session I attempt to allow the mind to connect with the body to explore these interesting habits and try on a new way of being. An easy way to access this connection is though the breath. By consciously breathing fully and deeply, we access our parasympathetic nervous system which turns on our ability to relax rather than being ready to fight, flee or freeze. From here we can move our bodies, find flexibility and be interested in that one shoulder that always seems to creep up. Sometimes there is a memory in these moments of an accident or interaction that the body has been attempting to protect us from for many years. Other times we realize that we constantly hold a child on one hip or carry a bag off only one shoulder. When we make these connections and try on a new posture even for the duration of a single massage, we provide the body with another option that it can choose off of the table.
I would urge anyone who is dealing with chronic tension or pain to try a session or two where I can guide your body and mind to new ways of holding yourself so that you feel more at ease and free. If that is out of reach, find some time to lie down and breathe fully and deeply then make mini adjustments. Try them on like pants in a store and see which ones you’d like to keep. You don’t have too hang onto your tension, and with a little help you can shift your entire experience towards ease and freedom.