More Classes articles
What is MIA?
Myofascial Integrated Alignment (MIA) Yoga is a holistic approach to yoga that reimagines the concept of alignment and balance in the practice. Unlike traditional yoga styles, where the emphasis is often placed on achieving specific postures, MIA Yoga shifts the focus to a holistic view of well-being, encompassing the entire body by restoring healthy natural alignment by balancing myofascial meridians (tension lines of muscles and fascia.)
Key Principles of MIA Yoga:
- Fascial Focus: Fascia, the connective tissue surrounding muscles, plays a central role in MIA Yoga. The practice aims to stimulate and strengthen fascial properties to promote healing and overall well-being.
- Holistic Alignment: MIA Yoga understands alignment as a dynamic state of harmony and balance within the body. It goes beyond rigid pose perfection and aims to restore the body’s natural equilibrium.
- Alignment as a Tool: Instead of treating yoga poses as endpoints, MIA Yoga sees them as tools for creating balance and harmony within the body. The ultimate goal is not the pose itself but a state of balance achieved through the pose.
- Sensation-Based Movement: Cueing focuses on moving towards a sensation rather than a destination. In MIA, poses are more fluid with their alignment. Pose shape is determined by sensation and the practitioner’s range of motion rather than trying to create a standard shape. Essentially, poses do not have inherent alignment and should be explored by feeling rather than visual aesthetics.
- The Body’s Natural State: MIA Yoga recognizes that the body has a natural alignment or resting tension, better known as posture. Our natural alignment arises from a combination of factors, including bone structure, muscle tension, and fascial tension. Our body’s resting tension is best understood through biotensegrity, which describes the continuous tensions and compressions of the myofascial system. MIA systematically balances the myofascial system to restore optimal posture and functionality.
- Sequencing with Myofascial Meridians: MIA Yoga employs a unique sequencing approach based on myofascial meridians, continuous lines of tension that run throughout the body. These meridians guide the creation of balanced and holistic sequences.
- Tuning Poses: In MIA Yoga, poses can be “tuned” to modify the tension along specific myofascial meridians. Tuning adjusts joint positions through various types of movements to target different muscles and lines of tension within the myofascia. Tuning creates a more holistic or uniform stretch along the desired meridian.
- Fascial Properties: MIA sequencing prioritizes the five fundamental properties of fascia: Elasticity, Plasticity, Viscoelasticity, Transmission of Force, and Remodeling. Each property is addressed through specific movements, as well as a time and force-dependent approach. Each property has its own benefits and movements that fit into specific parts of the sequence to promote the desired effect of the fascial property. For example, elasticity is used primarily in the warm-up, effectively increasing glide and allowing for more range of motion.
a. Elasticity: Bouncing increases mobility, fascial glide, and proprioception.
b. Slow viscoelasticity: We increase fascial glide, pliability, and creep through repetitive oscillating movement.
c. Fast viscoelasticity: We use gentle impact movements to strengthen the joints and increase joint health.
d. Plasticity: Longer holds, generally 30 seconds to one minute, to increase flexibility.
e. Transmission of force: We increase tension along different myofascial lines by “tuning” postures to maximize the pose’s potential within the focused myofascial meridian.
- Remodeling: After a physical practice, the body goes through a degradation/synthesis remodeling phase, generally lasting 72 hours, depending on physical intensity. Classes are divided into myofascial lines to promote optimal growth and recovery. Generally, it is advised to rotate through different myofascial meridians to create a full-body approach. We should wait about three days before repeating a myofascial line to allow for maximum growth and recovery within that line. (This only applies to MIA, where there is hypertrophy or muscle growth. MIS has very low stress and, therefore, very little degradation so that all lines can be repeated daily.)
- Fascial Glide: To maintain fascial health and mobility, MIA Yoga incorporates movements such as bouncing and oscillating that create glide between muscles and fascial layers. This helps prevent the fascia from sticking together, restricting movement, and allows for a better range of motion.
- Balanced Sequencing: Sequencing in MIA Yoga aims to create balance within the body by working with antagonistic myofascial meridians, self-balancing lines, and synergistic pairings. This approach to sequence aims to leave the practitioner feeling holistically balanced after every class since each class is balanced within the chosen lines. For example, in MIA, a superficial front-line class would never be taught without adding an antagonistic myofascial meridian because the superficial front line is unpaired and would leave the practitioner feeling unbalanced.
- Theme-Based Sequencing: Classes are often themed to address physical, energetic, and emotional aspects of well-being, providing a comprehensive experience for practitioners.
- MIA is Not Inherently “Yoga”: This approach might not feel like the yoga class you are used to and could be easily dismissed as not yoga. No style of hatha, vinyasa, ashtanga, or any other kind of yoga is inherently considered yoga. Like all styles of yoga, the “yoga” comes from the practitioner. What you bring to the practice is what makes the class yoga. It’s your intention, your breath, your connection, or whatever else you value as yoga that makes it yoga. Essentially, you make it yoga, not the style.