A connective tissue sheath encapsulates and separates individual muscles and organs. A thin layer of body fluid coats these sheaths, facilitating the gliding of muscles over neighboring structures. This fluid is apparent in the shiny appearance of muscles and organs during surgery.
The space between the muscles is called the myofascial plane. Blood vessels, nerves and lymphatics lie in this space and within the connective tissue sheaths themselves.
Blood vessels and lymphatics have one-way valves that direct the flow of body fluids to the larger central vessels. Toxins within the blood and lymphatic fluid are then transported to lymph nodes and organs such as the liver, facilitating their removal.
circulatory system lymphatic system
The One-way Valve System
Massage stimulates nerves and mobilizes fluids within the myofascial and organ planes. Contraction and relaxation of muscles during the yoga practice has a similar effect on nerve conduction and fluid transport. The pumping action of the muscles propels body fluids through the one-way valve system of the vessels.
The fascial planes are a lattice-like matrix of thin sheets of connective tissue that cover the organs and muscles. Sensory nerves are found throughout the various fascial planes and are stimulated by stretching the fascia in yoga postures. This nerve stimulation can evoke emotional and energetic releases during the practice of yoga.
This image illustrates the fascial planes and their movement in urdhva mukha svanasana.
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