Technologies of Qi: Yin Yoga & Connective Tissue
We are uncovering a new frontier within our bodies – one with previously unimaginable implications for our health and well-being. What was once disregarded by medical science as inconsequential “goo” – our connective tissue – turns out to be our largest (and most neglected) organ!
As our understanding of the body as a matrix of electromagnetic energies deepens, we’ve come to see that the fascia or connective tissue (structuring, sheathing and interconnecting our circulatory system, nervous system, muscular-skeletal system, digestive track, organs and cells) is actually an energetic communication system.
“ A new paradigm is evolving in the West, one that broadens the scope of information and energy transportation mechanisms far beyond simple chemical and electrical models.”…Berni Clark, The Complete Guide to Yin Yoga.
The collagen that makes up most of the connective tissue in your body is liquid crystalline in nature. Liquid crystals -known to be semi-conductors – are able to conduct energy in the way the wiring system in your house conducts electricity. They are also able to send, receive, store and amplify energy signals – like your high-speed internet connection.
Because fascia interconnects every system in the body – it provides a basis for information and energy transfer beyond purely chemical origins. In other words, while we’ve traditionally thought of communication in the body as mechanical ( chemical molecule fits into receptor like a key into a lock), we now realize we can open the lock faster with energy (like remote control devices).
These discoveries have caused James L. Oschman, in his book Energy Medicine in Therapeutics and Human Performance, to suggest that fascia is an intelligent organ of communication that is “conducting electromagnetic signals not only in the body, but from the cosmic energy field of the universe into the body and from the body into the field.” And in an idea eerily reminiscent of the healing wisdom of ancient Taoist China – Oschman suggests that a healthy fully ‘integrated’ body may be a body that is entirely free of restrictions to the flow of energy signals.
Ancient Taoism held as a central tenet that the body was composed of vast network of energy pathways which they called meridians. And if one was to maintain a healthy body, these meridians had to be free of restrictions to the flow of Qi – the life force energy that permeates the cosmos.
And it seems the Taoists knew all about connective tissue, which they classified as Yin. They believed when we are active and energetic, Qi energy flows through our muscles, the Yang layer of the body. When we are still, Qi moves through the more resistant connective tissues and skeletal system, the Yin layer of the body. Balancing the energetic aspects of yang with the still practice of Yin was essential in maintaining the free flow of Qi through the body’s meridians.
Today Yin Yoga utilizes this Taoist philosophy in the creation of a modern practice which uses long slow holds in postures as as opposed to more fluid vigorous Yang practice. Yin yoga seeks to open and release the tightest places in our bodies – connective tissue, joints ligaments and tendons – which have become tight and restricted through injuries, repetitive stress, poor postural habits and even emotional trauma.
And according to Yin Yoga leaders such as Paul Grilley and Sarah Powers, this loss of mobility within the connective tissue restricts the flow of Qi energy through the meridians as well. Yin yoga by working the connective tissue helps cleanse energy meridians and stimulate the flow of Qi.
Western science has long been skeptical of Eastern energy or meridian maps. Looking for channels and conducting tubes, they found little evidence of energy lines. But their investigations did not include the supposedly inert connective tissue. And ironically as Yin Yoga teacher Bernie Clark suggests “they may have discarded the very tissues that formed the channels they were seeking.”
It was Dr.Robert Becker, back in the 60′s who first demonstrated that connective tissue provides pathways for the energy flow. He established that when pressure is applied to connective tissue, joints, bones (as in Yin yoga poses or externally applied stretch and pressure during bodywork and massage) they polarize into positive and negative electrical poles and generate piezo-electricity. This current of electromagnetic energy then travels along the most conductive channels available in the body, channels that Becker suggested corresponded with the meridians of Eastern healing wisdom.
Today researchers like Dr. Hiroshi Motoyama in Japan, and Helene Langevin of the University of Vermont are documenting further evidence that the fascia network corresponds to the network of acupuncture points and energy pathways as described by the ancient healers. Dr. Motoyama was able to demonstrate a correlation between the electrical conductivity and the location of meridians. Motoyama has found chains of Hyaluronic Acids in the connective tissue of the body. Hyaluronic acid has the amazing property of being able to fix and polarize water in large quantities. When water is polarized it is able to conduct electrical impulses and therefore information. Motoyama theorizes that Qi flows throughout the pathways created by chains of hyaluronic acids.
Grilley contends this research reaffirms that the meridians run through the connective tissue of the body, and he writes, if “researchers are right—if the network of connective tissue does correspond with the meridians of acupuncture and the nadis of yoga—strengthening and stretching connective tissue may be critical for your long-term health.”
No kidding. That’s a big understatement when you consider that electromagnetic frequencies are vastly more efficient in imparting information than chemical signals. fMRI imaging has shown that when meridian or energy points in the body are stimulated, neural circuits in the brain are activated faster than what neural conduction can explain.
That’s why, as our technology allows us to peer ever more deeply into the body we are discovering a new land. One that brings us full circle with ancient philosophy by envisioning the body -not just a mechanical system of separate parts -but as an energetic system that is interconnected to all that is.
So that’s why I consider Yin Yoga to consider to be a Technology of Qi. We are not only balancing yin and yang -we are cleansing our energetic circuitry. This encourages the free movement of information and perhaps even invites in what the Taoists considered the flow of life force energy itself.