'Self myofascial release on a foam roller is similar to yoga. It releases deeply held muscular tension and therefore stress. Rolling on a foam roller tells you volumes about where and how you hold your tension in your body.
However, there is a spiritual aspect to it as well. Using a foam roller for release digs even deeper than yoga, for physical, mental and spiritual release if you learn to sink deeply into your roller and move deeply into the moment with your body.'
Yoga is wonderful. Most people now recognize that through the practice of yoga one can achieve a higher level of self-awareness and spirituality. They also understand that yoga is much more than just the physical asanas or basic yoga poses.
In the same fashion
myofascial release can be a pathway to self-understanding, and I
believe, perhaps at an even deeper level than regular yang-style yoga. Our modern day
demands drive the tension and stress deeper in the tissues of the
unaware, and most bodies require release at a deeper level for total
healing. I believe that myofascial release is the answer to this problem.
Myofascial release may be just the tool for you as well, especially if your body is involved in anything repetitive whether at work, in sports or your everyday routine. More specifically, self-myofascial release, because using a foam roller for this activity is something that you can do yourself in the comfort of your own home. There is no expense to it, once you make the small initial purchase of a foam roller.
I explain the concept of self myofascial release in my article on foam rolling, so if you are unfamiliar with this term please refer back to that article by clicking on the link. Releasing your muscle knots or "hot spots" is an important component for physical health. Athletes and body workers know how important it is to find and release these trigger points in the muscles.
Even if you only work on a foam roller for sports conditioning, if you perform your self myofascial release in a mindful way, such as I describe, you will achieve better physical results. Most folks just saw back and forth on their foam roller and their practice does not achieve the deepest benefit possible.
I wish to relay in this piece, is that myofascial release also assists
you in improving all aspects of body-mind-soul health. Your body can be
used as a tool for deeper self-awareness, for healing all three aspects
of your life. This is using your foam roller in an intuitive fashion.
When I discuss the deeper, meditative quality of foam rolling to the physical fitness community, some get it and some don't. Those who get it, say, "Wow, yes, you're right! I never thought of it that way!"
Just like some folks go to Yoga, just for the physical benefits. They never get to a higher level to the true meaning of Yoga, or "union with God." They never actually experience the incredible body-mind-soul benefits that happen when you make it a spiritual practice as well.
Like Yoga, foam rolling can be a body-mind-soul, spiritual practice. I know because it is a tool that I use almost on a daily basis, to access my body's wisdom and find union with myself and all things. You can too.
What does myofascial release have to do with self-emptying and clinging? Let me switch gears for a moment and tell you.
My original goal in writing this article was to admit that I was human, full of needs, wants and desires. I admit that as I wrote this article, I was stuck. Spiritually, creatively and emotionally stuck. Everything in my body seemed to ache. I had closed my body, because I don't want to know what was in there. I hadn't gone to the mat or the foam roller in awhile.
I slowly realized that I was clinging again. Clinging to a dream and a reality that I wanted to force. When my dreams don’t happen fast enough, I feel frustrated, lost and emotionally tossed about. I eat more to fill the void. The yearning is deep in my soul, a part of me.
Or was it? I truly believed it was ~ at least in that moment. Then I realized once again, that I had some releasing to do. I turned again to my body for assistance in this releasing.
Through the process of doing physical self-myofascial release work on my foam roller and going into specific yin yoga poses, this has always helped me on my physical, mental and spiritual path.
Attachment or clinging to something that exists in my "perfect world" may or may not be what is best for me. The intentions that exist in my heart are good. The speed and/or the exact path to these intentions are altogether a different story.
Your end intention or desire can also be good. I am not saying that you are to be free of intention. If your desire is to help others, bring relief to suffering, make a better world, become more connected to God, friends, family and all things, these are indeed very wonderful intents that should not be abandoned.
However, it is the clinging to the actual steps along the way, the yearning for the specifics that don't allow for the infinite possibilities, that muddle the process.
If you are open to possibilities to present themselves to you, they may be greater than what you could have imagined if you were only aware of your immediate surroundings or only aware of your particular moment in time!
It is in the releasing of the clinging to your specifics and instead trusting in whatever may unfold that the many possibilities are given a chance to show themselves to you!
Instead of demanding that you must have an intimate relationship right now, if you don’t have one, or that you must have a higher salary or you just won’t make it, or that you must be more patient, or thinner or more beautiful, you miss the meaning of the process.
Life is a journey, a never-ending process isn’t it? If you had everything right here, right now as soon as you thought of it, life could never be fulfilling or as rewarding, could it?
How then, do I release my clinging to a specific or a specific path? How can I find the patience for the unfolding at the speed of God/the Universe? Where do I find Peace again?
I find it through a process known as kenosis. I find it through the extension of the spiritual meaning of kenosis to the physical realm, through the process of self-myofascial release.
Kenosis is most often referred to from a purely spiritual perspective. It is the process of emptying yourself of all preconceived ideas of what you believe will make you happy, or who you believe you are. It is the letting go of the clinging. It is trusting in the unfolding. It is releasing the yearning for everything to happen right now and exactly how you want it. This is self-emptying. This is so hard for me! I readily admit it!
Kenosis is like catharsis, only more. Catharsis is the release of strong emotions, such as beating up a pillow to release your anger. Kenosis is more than that. It is a total self-emptying of all things that you cling to in your head, except your purest intents. Jesus of Nazareth was the purest, truest and highest example of kenosis when he gave his own life for the better good for the world!
As I inferred above, I take the process of kenosis a step farther. I additionally practice self-emptying through my physical body. I am physically releasing the held pain, stress and tension in my body. I do this through the self-myofascial release of foam rolling and yin yoga.
The long-held poses of yin yoga
and the stopping on a trigger point in your muscle while foam rolling
creates a therapeutic effect known for centuries in the East.
These practices massage and compress your acupressure points. When you release the acupressure points, this allows for the free-flow of the circulation and oxygen afterwards. This allows for the "prana" to flow in! Prana is used interchangeably with the word, "breath," but it is truly the "Life Force" instead.
By massaging and compressing the acupressure points in your body, when the pressure is let go, the release for this flow back into your body is a wonderful experience. It is a total letting go of the body, and therefore, the mind and the soul.
Self-myofascial release is when one does the releasing for oneself, on a foam roller, body ball, tennis ball, or some other device.
A body worker such as a massage therapist can also do myofascial release for you, if you have the time and the money required. They do myofascial release with T-bars and their hands and elbows. This is why many yogis and body workers will tell you that their treatment subjects will often cry during a session of deep tissue massage.
It is because through the deep probing of the physical self that cannot be separated from the spiritual self they find deep emotional and spiritual issues that are released through the physical myofascial release. The compression and release of the 'trigger points.'
When I get stuck, emotionally and spiritually, I find that I can truly surrender all to life's process through the physical kenosis of foam rolling for myofascial release. I light my candles. I roll my body on my foam roller, on the spots that require the attention. The spots that are stiff and sore with "chronic pain" of an emotional origin. I sink into the spot that hurts, the "trigger point" and I breathe deeply.
As in yoga it is the combination of the breath, the relaxation, the releasing and the letting go that makes surrender sweet and pure.
The deep breathing is the signal to your soul that you can relax and release. There is no need to be tense for the 'fight or flight.' The stress hormones serve no purpose here.
Then, like the water wheel, that releases the full bucket of water, I let all my specifics on my path empty away from me. The self-emptying of the "musts" and "need-right-nows" all flow away.
This is body-mind-soul kenosis through the physical tool of myofascial release on a foam roller. I affirm as I move, "I surrender all to the sweet unfolding." I continue to hold my intent in my heart, my deepest desires, but I surrender MY way to get there.
It is in the releasing and surrender that receiving can begin. It is the self-emptying so the new and the infinitely possible can flow in. It is the self-emptying that allows Peace and Love from God/the Universe to flow in.
Just as the water wheel, when this kenotic self-emptying occurs, there is now room in your bucket to be filled up once again, to sweet pure essence of ever-lasting Presence to refresh you anew.
And the process repeats itself until I become stuck again, until you become stuck again and kenosis is the way to renewal once again. This is the ongoing process of how to let go of clinging, yearning and immediate gratification.
When I take it to the mat and the foam roller, kenosis happens. I surrender all to the process. I surrender all to God/the Universe. Self-myofascial release, for me, is the tool for this body-mind-soul kenosis.
May your path to body-mind-soul healing be enhanced through your yin yoga practice and your foam roller as you perform your own kenosis through self-myofascial release!
Foam Roller Exercises for the Lower Body and Lower Back:
Foam Roller Exercises for the Upper Body and Upper Back: