We often think that yoga and stretching help only with muscular pain. However, they may also help you with less tangential issues, like migraines, TMJ, and tinnitus. The reason? They help induce myofascial release.
What is myofascial release? According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, “fascia is a thin casing of connective tissue that surrounds and holds every organ, blood vessel, bone, nerve fiber, and muscle in place.” Think of it like an inner skin — it has ample nerve endings, and if you are stressed, it tightens.
Healthy fascia stretches and moves with your body. Unhealthy fascia gets dry and tight, limiting your range of motion. Why? Certain life factors, like sitting for long periods of the day, bad posture, and not drinking enough water, can cause it to tighten.
If painful fascia is causing migraines, TMJ, or tinnitus, you can relieve your symptoms at home with gentle yoga. Colleen Saldman Yee, author of Yoga for Life, designed this simple routine to help you get started. Completing these stretches each day will help you achieve myofascial release, all while increasing circulation, easing pain, and possibly promoting weight loss.
The Myofascial Release Stretching Routine
Try these stretches daily to relieve headaches, stiffness, and other ailments.
The bridge pose releases fascia in the chest and upper back. To do: Lie on your back, bend your knees with feet hip width apart. Press your heels and arms into the floor as you raise your butt off the floor, shifting your weight onto your shoulders. Hold for five slow breaths. Repeat three times.
Reclining Hand to Big Toe
This pose loosens fascia and boosts circulation in the hamstrings and calves. To do: Lie on your back. Keeping your left leg on the floor, bend your right knee and hug your thigh to your chest. Exhale and straighten your leg with your foot flexed. Hold for five slow breaths. Repeat with the opposite leg.
The cat-cow pose unkinks fascia in the back. To do: Start on your hands and knees. Inhale as you arch your back and lift your chin and chest toward the sky. On exhale, draw your belly to your spine and round your back, releasing your head toward the floor. Repeat 10 times.
The eagle arms stretch heals the shoulder area. To do: Sit on the floor or in a chair. Cross your arms so your left arm is above your right. Bend your elbows, nesting your left elbow in the crook of your right elbow. Gently press your hands so your palms are facing each other. Hold for five slow breaths. Repeat with your right arm over your left.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.