During school anatomy classes, I learned of muscles, ligaments, bones and tissues. Yet, I never heard anyone talk about fascia. It is only recently, 50 years later, that I have come to understand its importance in maintaining my ageing body. I became fascinated by fascia.
I believe it is the missing link in my search for a pain-free lifestyle.
What is Fascia?
Fascia is a collagenous tissue that is located within the whole body, there are layers under our skin, it connects everything inside our body. It is multidimensional and multidirectional. It is a connective framework enclosing yet separating muscles, bones and organs. Fascia creates protection, structure, support and acts as a connector between the skin and deeper layers of soft tissue.
Have you ever had a knot in your shoulder? Have you eased the pain only to find it has travelled down your back or round to the front? If so, you probably had an issue with your fascia.
Fascia is also a rich sensory organ. When activated and toned optimally, it can increase mobility and strength, eliminate stress, pain and discomfort. When we realign our whole fascia bodysuit, not only does it affect the physical body, it also affects the mind offering confidence with our bodies abilities to support us.
There are many techniques to work on fascia; stretching, foam rolling, sauna, cold therapy, cardio workouts and yoga. Good hydration will also create benefits. I was fortunate to come across a retreat dedicated to fascia just two hours boat ride away.
The host Saskia Griffiths knows all about pain. Growing up with horses, she broke all her toes amongst many injuries. Her love for extreme sports meant injury was virtually an everyday occurrence. Saskia’s desire to find freedom from pain led her to journey around the world. She studied different healing arts and put them to practice helping others understand and overcome their pain by shifting their movement patterns.
During her decade of searching and travels, Saskia spent an in-depth year studying, working and teaching the Bowspring method with its creators. Bowspring promotes the natural curves of the body and spine, particularly the relationship between the heart, hips and head. It incorporates breathing and mindfulness with a set of movements/postures.
With decades of experience and now based in Ibiza, Saskia has created her holistic realignment method ‘Realign’. A simple system, following Natures Way that anyone can learn online or at the retreat centre Casa del Karma
Casa del Karma
For this post, I have divided my own experience at Casa del Karma into different aspects. Yet, it was the whole lifestyle package that created change. My four-night stay in this healing space allowed me the opportunity to understand my body and let it show me its capabilities like never before.
Casa del Karma is the perfect place for a Spanish retreat. A traditional home from home, with all that you would need without being ostentatious. There are many quiet areas to chose from under-covered terraces, around the pool, lounging sofas etc.
The bedroom allocated to me had comfy beds and plenty of space. Perfect for a good nights sleep. The other things I loved, I have listed below. There are in no particular order (apart from number one – food always comes first!)
1. Food, hydration
Our fascia needs water to function. My refillable bottle came into use at least three times a day to give my body optimum access. Ibizan water has a high calcium content. Having access to a reverse osmosis system meant I was getting the best water quality available without adding to the problem of plastic.
Nikki, our chef, produced the most amazing dishes at every meal. Not only were they colourful, nutritious and filling, but I also noticed each plate contained extreme love. Such love creates an energy I had never experienced before. Whether the cleansing celery juice served every morning or the avocado/cacao dessert served the final evening, every mouthful was contentment at the highest level.
I came away with a new understanding of healing fuel at a cellular level. Which perfectly aligns with autophagy and fasting. Also, new ideas for adapting to my bodies fuel need, as I move through the seasons. At the same time, to continue my philosophy to be as kind to the planet as possible.
2. Realignment, Tensegrity and Breathing of Fascia
Two daily classes at the studio allowed my fascia to relearn its natural alignment. Until this point, I had never thought about the space within my body. I had not felt it either. The emptiness within my rib cage and in my throat was an alien concept until this experience.
Saskia talked a lot about tensegrity, a combination of two words tension and integrity. When you balance tension, compression and breath, the shape is maintained across the entire body.
In each class, we added a new layer of movement. I placed my body in foreign positions and breathed into tension. I learned about the importance of the position of the feet and heart, the popo muscle and maintaining a fully expanded rib cage. As I worked, my posture started to change. My sloping soldiers and sagging boobs are already improving without surgery.
3. Walks in Nature
There is nothing better I love to do than be out in nature. Walking in the mountains, finding new tracks and views. Casa del Karma is central to so many great walks.
Cala d’Aubarca, the Port de San Miguel water tower and the trip to the beach near Es Vedra allowed me to see a side of Ibiza I did not know. Well worth the little bit of huffing and puffing needed to reach the viewpoints.
We had our guide for all walks, Sky, Casa del Karmas resident Ibizan hound. Her poise and grace we all attempted to emanate as we walked, although her inquisitive character and use of extra energy, we left to her!
4. Space and Silence
As well as finding space within my body, we had plenty of time to ourselves journal, read or contemplate. After lunch, space to sit quietly by the pool or take a well-earned siesta were greatly received.
When you are integrating new information, space plays a role in assimilation. The noble silence each evening, 9 pm and until breakfast the next day provided space for profound insights.
Saskia also shared her private library. As well as being fascinated by fascia, I found the book ‘Breathe’ by James Nestor to be perfect timing. Here are a few gems…
“For the perfect breath is this: Breathe in for about 5.5 seconds, then exhale for 5.5 seconds. That’s 5.5 breaths per minute for a total of about 5.5 litres of air.”
“Carbon dioxide is the chief hormone of the entire body, it is the only one produced by every tissue and acts on every organ. Carbon dioxide is, in fact, a more fundamental component of living matter than is oxygen.”
Sitting and meditating is not one of my strengths, yet when enticed to sit under a mother pine tree, hundreds of years old, it was a definite yes. The sounds of the dawn chorus, the touch of the first rays of sun whilst nestled under the protective energy of the tree, are not to be missed.
The impressive mother tree stands 8 x 12 metres. You find yourself wondering what marvels she has seen during her time on earth. You can feel her strength and tenacity, her complete understanding of her position in nature. Awe-inspiring. Sitting and meditating allows you to get fascinated with fascia, to become like the tree with a strong trunk.
Retreats are never whole without the other guests who attend. Synchronicity has always played an important role when you meet new people. What do they have to show me? What can I offer them? We either learn or teach.
On our walks, we met many dragonflies, a symbol of change. We shared the same angel cards, arrived with the same sandals (made by one of the guests). Our yoga session on the beach stopped as the mini tidal wave landed ashore. We slipped in and out of rain showers without ever noticing them.
We laughed and cried, shared our stories and came together as one. Authentic connection creates a level of acceptance and respect, sadly lacking in many interactions today.
7. Sauna and Icebath
Saunas are one of the best ways of relaxing after exercise. This one arrived on the back of a neighbours car! So cute, cosy and certainly hot! We were told, 20 mins maximum. It was tempting to stay longer, yet the icebath awaited.
The ice tub was also brought to the site and was perfect for a one-person dip when full of water and ice. It was typical Wim Hof style plus lots of laughter. We all showered and then took turns for a plunge. I even managed to smile for the camera.
Fascinated by Fascia
Finally, it was time to say goodbye. Just as with nature, the only constant is change. All things come to an end. I will be spending time adapting and making further changes to my daily lifestyle cycles and following natures way. I know I will be back.
If you too would like to become fascinated by fascia and want a personal introduction to Saskia contact me here.