Understanding anatomy is a great way to deepen your yoga practice. As we become more aware of the different parts of our body and the roles they play, we can bring more mindful attention to them in the studio.
Our bodies have many types of connective tissue. Three that are key to our physical movements are tendons, ligaments, and fascia.
A tendon (or sinew) is a tough band of fibrous connective tissue — collagen — that connects muscle to bone and is capable of withstanding tension. Tendons facilitate movement; when our muscles contract they convey that tension to the bone so we can move. Tendons, like bones, can be strengthened by exercise.
Also made from collagen, ligaments connect bone to bone to form joints. People with highly elastic ligaments are “double-jointed”, but anyone can improve their flexibility through yoga. Ligaments don’t regenerate on their own, so staying flexible through stretching is key to avoiding injuries.
These connective tissue fibers (made mostly of collagen) form sheets or bands beneath the skin to attach, stabilize, enclose, and separate muscles and other internal organs. Fasciae transmit mechanical tension from muscle movement, or external pressure. They work to reduce friction from muscular force and provide a supportive, movable wrapping for nerves and blood vessels as they pass through and between muscles.
Ask your yoga anatomy questions in the comments & I’ll reply!