Yin Yoga Teacher Training Brisbane

Anatomy and Physiology of Yin Yoga


The big hype! Connective Tissue and Fascia

Connective Tissue - The extracellular matrix

Connective tissues are the most abundant structures in the human body that connect, support and bind everything together. They provide support for the musculoskeletal system and protect and surround the organs. Dr. James Oschman Biologist and author of Energy Medicine: The Scientific Basis and Energy Medicine in Therapeutics and Human Performance refers to connective tissue/ECM as a living matrix and a continuous dynamic “super-molecular” webwork extending into every nook and cranny of the body.


What is fascia?

Fascia connects all connective tissues (that means the muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments, and blood) Fascia holds together the entire body and without it we would be a puddle on the ground!

Fascia is defined as a sheet or band of fibrous connective tissue enveloping, separating, or binding together muscles, organs, and other tissues of the body. The important thing to remember about fascia is that it is one type of connective tissue in a family that has many members.

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Superficial Fascia

Superficial fascia is the layer underneath the skin.

Deep Fascia / Myofascia

Deep fascia is the structure of dense tissue that we predominantly target in our Yin Yoga practice. It is thicker and tougher, composed mostly of tightly woven fibres and is made up of collagen, elastin and reticular fibres.


Collagen is the most abundant protein in our bodies and is found in muscles, bones, skin, blood vessels, digestive system and tendons. When it comes to our joints and tendons, in simplest terms, it’s the “glue” that helps hold the body together. Collagen has incredible strength and is the main component of fascia.


Elastin is a highly elastic protein in connective tissue and allows many tissues in the body to resume their shape after stretching or contracting. Elastin helps skin to return to its original position when it is poked or pinched.

Reticular fibres:

Reticular fibersreticular fibres or reticulin is a type of fiber in connective tissue composed of type III collagen secreted by reticular cells.

Synovial Fluid

Synovial fluid, is a viscous, fluid found in the cavities of synovial joints. With its egg white–like consistency, the principal role of synovial fluid is to reduce friction between the articular cartilage of synovial joints during movement.


Bursae are thin, lubricated cushions located at points of friction between a bone and the surrounding soft tissue, such as skin, muscles, ligaments and tendons. A bursa lies between a bone and opposing surface (e.g. skin) like a tiny water balloon with only a few drops of fluid in it, wedged between two surfaces. Bursitis is inflammation and swelling of a bursa caused by overuse of the joint.

Hyaluronic Acid

Hyaluronic acid, is a clear, gooey ground substance that is naturally produced by your body. Its main function is to retain water to keep your tissues well lubricated and moist, it is present in every tissue of the body, and is referred to as ‘the fountain of youth’. During the practice of Yin Yoga we are able to stimulate the production of HA through long deep holds.



Thomas Myers developed the myofascial meridians as a way of explaining the role of the fascial system in relation to human structure and function. 


The superficial backline connects and protects the entire posterior surface of the body. When the knees are extended, as in standing the SBL functions as one continuous line of integrated myofascia.

The SBL starts at the bottom of the toes, wraps around the heels and continues up the entire back line of the body ending at the terminus at the frontal ridge of the eyebrows.


  • The postural function of the SBL is to support the body in full upright extension.

  • Extends the hips and spine and flexes the knee and the ankle



The superficial front line connects the entire anterior surface of the body from the top of the feet to the side of the skull in two pieces - toes to pelvis and pelvis to head.

The SFL begins on the tops of the toes and technically joins with the SBL around the tip of the toes phalanges, it continues up the legs and connects to the pelvis. The second piece starts at the lower front of the pelvis all the way up to the front of the neck and scalp.


  • The postural functions of the SFL is to balance the Superficial Back Line of the body, and to provide tensile support from the top to lift those parts of the skeleton which extend forward of the gravity line - this includes the pubis, rib cage, and face.

  • Creates flexion of the truck and hips

  • Extension at the knee

  • Dorsiflexion of the foot



The Superficial Lateral Line (LL) brackets each side of the body from the medial and lateral mid-point of the foot around the outside of the ankle and up the lateral aspect of the leg and thigh, passing along the trunk in a ‘basket weave’ or ‘crossed shoelace’ pattern under the shoulder to the skull in the region of the ear.


  • The LL functions posturally to balance the front and back and balances left and right.

  • Stabilisers the trunk and legs

  • Lateral flexion of the truck

  • Abduction at the hip

  • Eversion of the foot

  • Acts as a ‘break’ for lateral rotational movements of the trunk



The spiral line loops around the body in two opposing helices, right & left joining each side of the skull across the upper back to the opposite shoulder, and then around the ribs to the front to cross again at the level of the navel to the hip. From the hip, the Spiral Line passes like a ‘jump rope’ along the anterolateral thigh and across the shin to the medial longitudinal arch, passing under the foot and running up the posterolateral side of the leg to the ischium na into the erector spinae myofascia to end very close to where it started on the skull.


  • Helps maintain balance across all planes

  • Creates and mediates oblique spiral rotations in the body

  • In eccentric and isometric contraction, steadies the trunk and leg to keep it from folding into rotational collapse



The four arm lines run from the front and back through four layers of the shoulder, to the four quadrants of the arm and four sides of the hand, namely the thumb, little finger, palm and back of the hand.


The arm lines act across 10 or so joints in the arm to bring things to us or to push them away, to push, pull or stabilise our own bodies.


A muscle is defined as a band or bundle of fibrous tissue in a human or animal body that has the ability to contract, producing movement in or maintaining the position of parts of the body.

Muscle is the tissue of the body which primarily functions as a source of power.

Contraction of the skeletal muscles helps limbs and other body parts move. Most sources state that there are over 650 named skeletal muscles in the human body, although some figures go up to as many as 840.


Psoas Muscles

The psoas major is divided into a superficial and deep part. The deep part originates from the transverse processes of lumbar vertebrae I-V. The superficial part originates from the lateral surfaces of the last thoracic vertebra, lumbar vertebrae I-IV, and from the neighboring intervertebral discs. The lumbar plexus lies between the two layers.

A tight psoas can cause serious postural problems: when you stand up, it pulls the low back vertebrae forward and down toward the femur, often resulting in lordosis (overarching in the lumbar spine), which is a common cause of low back pain and stiffness; it can also contribute to arthritis in the lumbar facet joints. Other conditions—disc herniation, arthritis, facet or sacroiliac pain—are much more common. When those conditions are treated, often with physical therapy, the psoas muscle is also stretched and strengthened.

Piriformis Muscle

The piriformis muscle originates from the anterior (front) part of the sacrum, the part of the spine in the gluteal region, and from the superior margin of the greater sciatic notch (as well as the sacroiliac joint capsule and the sacrotuberous ligament). It exits the pelvis through the greater sciatic foramen to insert on the greater trochanter of the femur. Its tendon often joins with the tendons of the superior gemellusinferior gemellus, and obturator internus muscles prior to insertion.

The piriformis is a flat muscle, pyramidal in shape, lying almost parallel with the posterior margin of the gluteus medius.

It is situated partly within the pelvis against its posterior wall, and partly at the back of the hip-joint.

In 17% of people, the piriformis muscle is pierced by parts or all of the sciatic nerve. Several variations occur, but the most common type of anomaly (81% of anomalies) is the Beaton's type B which is when the common peroneal nerve pierces the piriformis muscle.

Piriformis syndrome usually starts with pain, tingling, or numbness in the buttocks. Pain can be severe and extend down the length of the sciatic nerve (called sciatica). The pain is due to the piriformis muscle compressing the sciatic nerve, such as while sitting on a car seat or running.



Tendons are tough bands of dense, white, fibrous connective tissue that joins a muscle to a bone. Tendons are strong and flexible but inelastic and are capable of withstanding tension.

The dry mass of normal tendons, which makes up about 30% of their total mass, is composed of about 86% collagen, 2% elastin, 1–5% proteoglycans, and 0.2% inorganic components such as copper, manganese, and calcium

Illiotibial Band Tendon

The iliotibial band runs along the lateral or outside aspect of the thigh, from the pelvis to the tibia, crossing both the hip and knee joints. The iliotibial band is an important stabilizer structure of the lateral part of the knee as the joint flexes and extends.

Injuries related to the IT band:

Iliotibial band syndrome is an overuse injury of the connective issues that are located on the outer thigh and knee.

  • Inflammation and irritation of the iliotibial band can occur as it travels back and forth, crossing the bony prominence of the femoral epicondyle as the knee flexes and extends.

  • Iliotibial band syndrome is an overuse injury causing pain on the outside part of the knee especially during running when the heel strikes the ground.

  • Iliotibial band syndrome is the most common cause of lateral knee pain in runners and bicyclists.



Are short bands of tough, flexible fibrous connective tissue which connect two bones or cartilages or hold together a joint.

Some ligaments limit the mobility of articulations or prevent certain movements altogether.

Ligaments are viscoelastic. They gradually strain when under tension and return to their original shape when the tension is removed.

Injuries related to ligaments:

Torn ACL

The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) attaches to the tibia and femur to help form the knee joint. The cruciate ligaments (anterior and posterior) are situated in the middle of the joint and form the shape of a cross (hence the name "cruciate"). The ACL acts as a stabilizer of the knee, preventing the tibia from sliding forward, so a tear to the ligament causes instability and, in some cases, the knee to "give out."

Bones / The skeletal System

Bones protect the various organs of the body, produce red and white blood cells, store minerals, provide structure and support for the body, and enable mobility.

We have 206 bones in the human body and each one of these are uniquely different. This is something very important to understand in ANY form of Yoga practice!


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Cartilage is a resilient and smooth  elastic tissue, a rubber-like padding that covers and protects the ends of long bones at the joints, and is a structural component of the rib cage, the ear, the nose, the bronchial tubes, the intervertebral discs, and many other body components. It is not as hard and rigid as bone, but it is much stiffer and much less flexible than muscle.

There are three types of cartilage:

  • Elastic cartilage (yellow cartilage) - the most springy and supple type of cartilage. Elastic cartilage makes up the outside of the ears and some of the nose.

  • Fibrocartilage - the toughest type of cartilage, able to withstand heavy weights. It is found between the discs and vertebrae of the spine and between the bones of the hip and pelvis.

  • Hyaline cartilage - springy, tough, and elastic. It is found between the ribs, around the windpipe, and between the joints (articular cartilage).

Elastic cartilage, fibrocartilage, and hyaline cartilage can all be damaged. For example, a slipped disk is a type of fibrocartilage damage, while a hard impact on the ear can cause elastic cartilage damage.

*Knee issues

Fractures. Any of the bones in or around the knee can be fractured

  1. Anterior cruciate ligament injuries. ACL injuries can range from grade 1 to 3 in severity

  2. Dislocation

  3. Meniscal tears

  4. Bursitis

  5. Tendonitis

  6. Tendon tears

  7. Collateral ligament injuries.


Generally, the term "meniscus" is used to refer to the cartilage of the knee, either to the lateral or medial meniscus. Both are cartilaginous tissues that provide structural integrity to the knee when it undergoes tension and torsion. The menisci are also known as "semi-lunar" cartilages, referring to their half-moon, crescent shape.

The menisci act to disperse the weight of the body and reduce friction during movement. Since the condyles of the femur and tibia meet at one point (which changes during flexion and extension), the menisci spread the load of the body's weight

In sports and orthopedics, people will sometimes speak of "torn cartilage" and actually be referring to an injury to one of the menisci. There are two general types of meniscus injuries, acute tears that are often the result of trauma or a sports injury and chronic or wear-and-tear type tears.

They are often treated with surgical repair depending upon the patient's age as they rarely heal on their own. Chronic tears are treated symptomatically: physical therapy with or without the addition of injections and anti-inflammatory medications. If the tear causes continued pain, swelling, or knee dysfunction, then the tear can be removed or repaired surgically.


Joints are where two bones join together and link the skeletal system as a whole. They are constructed to allow for different degrees and types of movement. Some joints, such as the knee, elbow, and shoulder, are self-lubricating, almost frictionless, and are able to withstand compression and maintain heavy loads while still executing smooth and precise movements.

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