Being a fan of all things Yoga and Pilates I was naturally curious about Zenga – a mindful movement technique, so I undertook the training to become a Level 1 Zenga mat instructor. Zenga combines elements of Yoga, Pilates and dance movements and adds to these disciplines modern medical knowledge particularly in relation to the fascia.
Fascia is a type of “regular” connective tissue along with ligaments, tendons and aponeuroses. Fascia are regularly organised in response to stresses placed upon them and can affect muscle quality – if it becomes too tough and dehydrated, the muscle will become compressed and unable to function properly – think of fascia as a huge body stocking which needs to be kept well hydrated so drink lots of water!
Zenga has four key principles – (1) Breath, (2) Support, (3) Yield and (4) Flow:-
Breath – the focus is on a mindful breath starting in a comfortable position and noticing the quality of the breath and its 4 phases (inhale – pause – exhale – pause) whilst staying with a natural breathing pattern. All breath patterns and choices are honoured.
Support – this relates to the physical body, its foundation and how support and balance is managed with integrity between the moving parts. The Vleeming and Lee model of Joint Function is a key element of this (combining the skeleton, muscular contraction, motor control and awareness of how the emotional state and awareness when exercising can have on the outcomes).
Yield – this has an element of grounding and an active relationship between the earth and the physical body- a sense of support without being too rigid combined with comfortable breathing.
Flow – this combines the first 3 elements. When we combine these, we experience flow…The Zenga workout may therefore include spiral, circular and wave-lie movements to encourage flow and these may be supported by the use of blocks, straps, balls and bands which can help create a focal point to which the fascia can respond.
Through the use of intention and imagery, Zenga can release tension and bring greater focus to the mind.