Last weekend I attended a very informative Yoga workshop with Beta Lisboa at Little Yoga Space in Lisbon, Portugal. Beta focuses on releasing first the joints and then the fascia to help with emotional and physical trauma.
I was in major need of this workshop because of the amount of travelling I’ve done over the last 6 months. My ankles, calves, and hips in particular were stiff, which began to have an affect on my dancing and teaching physically and emotionally. This workshop also featured an all-time personal favorite: the tennis ball.
Born and raised in Brazil, Beta was a Sports and Capoeira practitioner who later took up Ashtanga Yoga and Sports massage. As she continued to delve into the Yoga world she was also introduced to Yin Yoga and Spiral Yoga from Simon Low and Sarah Powers.
Beta also teaches and practices Myofascial Release, Mindfulness Meditation, Wellness Life Coaching, Dynamic Spiral Yoga, and Vital Essence Breathwork. You can learn more about these techniques on Beta’s website.
What is Yin Yoga?
According to Yoga Journal–
This practice is designed to help you sit longer, and more comfortably, in meditation by stretching connective tissue around the joints (mainly the knees, pelvis, sacrum, and spine). A passive practice, Yin Yoga involves variations of seated and supine poses typically held for 3 to 5 minutes, accessing deeper layers of fascia.
What is Fascia?
According to Lauren Roxburgh–
Fascia is a thin layer of connective tissue that encases your body under your skin like a wetsuit and actually wraps itself around every muscle, joint, and organ.
What is Yin Fascial Yoga?
According to Beta–
Yin Fascial Yoga combines Yin Yoga with integrative Daoist Yoga in longer held postures with slower movements into the fascia opening up the body meridian system. Blending with Myofascial Release to target connective tissues, supportive structures, called fascia. Incorporating Mindfulness as a powerful tool for awareness in your practice.
About the Workshop
We began the workshop by introducing ourselves and stated why were were interested in taking the workshop in the first place. Answers varied from finding an overall physical release; to combat emotional trauma; to having a general interest in the science behind Yin Yoga and fascia. I, on the other hand, fell right in between these reasons.
“The body knows it’s way home”, Beta explains. We all stood up. Second order of work was to release the joints before we started releasing the fascia. Exercises consisted of rolling the ankle joints, hip/pelvis mobility, and some basic yoga postures standing and on-all fours. Movements were kept soft, almost in a restorative manner.
Next, we begin to release the fascia, starting with the bottom of the foot (plantar fascia). Using one of the tennis balls, we carefully transferred our weight back and forth, massing the bottom of the foot in as many directions as possible. Then we targeted just the middle of the foot (close to the base of the toe joints), to focus on the connection to our organs, like in Reflexology.
We then continue upward along the body interchanging with spiralling movements and stretching, standing and on the mat. This helped the body to maintain its openness and avoid shutting back down into postural habits. My favorite anterior points of release were the psoas and the space right underneath the ribcage using 2 tennis balls. Good for releasing the posterior chain.
A favorite release point in the posterior portion began from the base of the spine, gradually rolling towards the upper back with 2 tennis balls, which proved to be a neglected part of the spine from sitting and being confined on a plane and bus. In fact, these release points have already been added to my daily routines.
Finishing with a few supported bridges and Shavasana, we gradually realigned the body back to where it needed to be. The body tends to release in a chain reaction, especially when dealing with Myofascial Release, the tissues and muscles “spontaneously unwind”. I walked out of the workshop feeling less congested in the joints, aligned, happier and generally more awake.