Yoga has so many facets, including anatomy, more specifically a type of tissue called fascia. A recent anatomy assignment during my current term at the Victoria Yoga School required making a 15 minute yoga practice video featuring movements and postures focusing on a particular line of fascia in the body. I chose to examine the superficial back arm line and the deep back arm line. Below you can find a link to the two part video sequence I posted on YouTube (I couldn’t figure out how to post a video longer than 10 minutes, so I split my 15 minute video into two parts) and a little write-up to provide some insight into the fascinating world of fascia 🙂
Fascia is like a honeycomb or matrix of connective tissue that surrounds our organs, bones and muscles, as well as anchoring these tissues to one another. The purpose of fascia is to help the body hold its form, keeping all the organs, bones and muscles in place. It also functions to distribute physical and emotional tension evenly throughout the entire body.
The superficial back arm line extends from the base of the skull, down the length of the trapezius muscle, along the deltoids and the backs of the arms and hands. The deep back arm line extends from the lower cervical spine, to the upper thoracic spine, where the shoulder blades and rhomboid muscles sit. From the rhomboids, the deep back arm line includes the rotator cuffs and triceps, running through the elbow, along the outside of the little finger.
Any dysfunction in either of these arm lines can lead to hand and or shoulder problems such as carpel tunnel and shoulder/elbow pain. Additionally, straining the elbow joint can affect the mid-back, and straining the shoulders can create neck pain and contribute to shallow breathing. These fascial lines are specialized for mobility in the shoulders and arms, as well as dexterity in the fingers and hands.
When using yoga postures to engage these two fascial lines, it is valuable to note that opening up the shoulders will likely impact the neck, elbows and wrists, as well as the upper/mid-back. Furthermore, if one is suffering from elbow pain for example, strengthening the pinky fingers and opening the shoulders and triceps may prove useful, because of how the deep back arm line directly connects these areas of the body.