“It’s A Stretch: Is Connective Tissue The Link To Yoga’s Benefits?” – Lecture Review, University Of Vermont 092011

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“it’s a stretch: is connective tissue the link to yoga’s benefits?” – lecture review, university of vermont 092011




Article Outline
  • Getting There
  • Why We Went
  • Deciding to Review
  • Campus Images

Dr Helene Langevin, M.D., Bio

The Review
  • Intro
  • Presentation
  • Brochure Description of Lecture
  • My Take Away
Resources for More Info
  • DVDs
  • List of relevant professional journal publications
  • Via University of Vermont
Final Thoughts
  •  First, and Second
  • Things in the Body, Things in our Heart
  • Magazine of Yoga’s Tom Myers Fascia Interview
Other Yoga-Adan Links You Might Like


Getting There

College Street East to University of Vermont
College Street East to University of Vermont

a gorgeous almost fall like weather day that’d threatened rain all day for the evening, ended clearing to a lightly brisk dusk, perfect for walking to the university from our apartment

the short walk up the hill to the front of university of vermont‘s main campus is saluted by old century old mansions converted into frat houses (it looked like), university offices, and possibly one grand still functioning family residence

from there, we’d seen an online map through a maze of buildings to the location of the lecture

unfortunately, the simple schematic proved too much for the actuality of the buildings, and most the students were of the “gee, i’m not sure” mode

but fortunately, following the “probable” path of the online map, we came to two buildings to choose from, and finally found the lecture hall

the beauty of the evening and the campus, though, made the search-journey worthwhile 😉




Why We Went

two reasons really – the lecture, and a chance to walk sheila’s college campus

the lecture, though, was the main draw this evening, and we were much looking forward to it

connective tissue, catchy title, yoga, wife’s old alma mater, good weather – yea!


Deciding to Review

typically, the decision to review is an expression of why and what i liked about something, a dvd, a course, a festival

but here, i literally don’t have the expertise to do the lecture justice

yet, maybe, i can give some of the gist of the lecture, some resources, and still provide some of the sense of valuable-ness sheila and i both felt we received attending that evening


Campus Images


Across the Street from UVM
Across the Street from UVM


the images i’ve used in this article are from a few weeks before this evening, but give you some idea of the campus’, and the area’s, beauty


Dr Helene Langevin, M.D., Bio

in this instance i’ll quote the info from one of many handouts (plus nice carrying bag) we got as we checked into the auditorium

Dr Langevin’s name was bolded in the flyer; i added all additional bolding in this bio

Helene Langevin, M.D., is a professor of neurology at the University of Vermont.  Dr. Langevin received her medical degree from McGill University in Montreal.  She completed a residency in internal medicine at Johns Hopkins Hospital and a fellowship in endocrinology and metabolism at Johns Hopkins Hospital and Sinai Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland.  She joined the UVM faculty in 1996, where she also serves as the director of the College’s Program in Integrative Health.  A licensed acupuncturist, Dr. Langevin’s research focuses on the molecular mechanisms responsible for the therapeutic effects of acupuncture and massage, which manipulate the connective tissue, as well as movement-based therapies such as yoga.  She has lectured on the subject of the biomechanical effect of acupuncture needling locally and internationally.

my apologies i felt the need to bold so much 😉


The Review


typically, this is the easiest portion of my post to lay out; i go to a festival, or write a poem, or experience an asana, describe it, then try to figure out what it is i saw or wrote or practiced

in this case, i’m out of qualified level of comfortably or reliably expressing what i heard

my solution in this case was two-fold :

1) to write everything i possibly could surrounding the presentation – the resources guide, any brochure or flyer descriptions i wanted to use, even the lead-up walk to and within the campus

2) then present in outline form, what i heard or thought i understood, and how it was presented

3) and end with my personal take-away of that evening’s lecture



Reviews: Clear Sailing?


dr langevin introduced herself and began her presentation with some stills of animals in various stages of stretching projected on a large screen

this was followed by remarkably similar stretch poses by infants and very young children

i’ve always felt most our ideas of what poses are, are ideas based on patterns already within us, movements we must stay in a range within-of based on being human, ideas based on if not remembered then sensed postures we each “went through” in becoming more adult bodies

my poem this week, “evolution of a pose“, based on ideas like this i’ve had for a very long time, triggered into being by dr langevin’s talk, is an internal memory exploration of how the so-called cobra pose, is, to my thinking, the peeking child pose most of us have experienced

one of my first posts, “Asanas (Poses) – do I HAVE to do the pose this way? part 1: no…,” speaks directly to the idea that poses are already in us :

“i imagined a non-tv watching no-phone non-guru person in india, sitting, watching a gaggle of playing children, maybe ages 6 mths to 3-4 years, all stretching and running and bent over and crawling, and, laying prone, their hands flat to the floor by their sides, heads lightly raised to peek out at a playmate or parent, smiling, their hearts out to the world ;-) …”

and i was quoting from a comment i’d left on kara-leah’s yoga lunchbox 😉


what was particularly interesting to me at the time of the lecture was dr langevin’s explanation that a child in cobra pose, or even a mini-superman (feet also off floor), is that this “pose” is a significant indicator of a child developing enough core strength that, soon, they’re gonna be mobile! crawling!

the child-peeking pose isn’t merely (as if it were really only “merely”) attempting to view his or her surroundings, make contact with these wondrous bigger folk hanging around and peeking back 😉 –

but is a developmental stage of huge meaning for future mobility!

isn’t that we do, as adults, when we practice cobra or superman or some flying or other?

we’re “re”-strengthening our core, our ability to move about in our world – as from day way-back! wow



dr langevin then also showed images of the layers immediately under our skin, talked about how connective tissue is everywhere in our bodies, in everything we are, from the tip of our heads to the tips of our toes –

and, how damage to our connective tissue layer (of the various degrees of connective tissue, this is thicker yet still very elastic) between our skin and muscles, decreases mobility

damage can apparently occur from illness, injury, and even surgery

the damage to this connective tissue layer is like scar tissue

scar tissue is the body’s attempt to heal a wound

scar tissue restrictiveness can be lessened –

with stretching!


lab rats are the source of most of dr langevin’s research, and she was very clear that there is not a 1:1 correlation between what she’s observed in a lab setting in a mouse, and the human body –

and, that the act of observation (within ourselves, i believe, this is an act of awareness), plus the manner that connective tissue damage was induced and reversed, implied factors that could further diminish any correlation to us

that being said, there was extreme hopefulness that the lab results were promising and applicable to our own bodies


3) images of fibroblasts before any stress or impact, after stress inducement, and after stretching the lab rat for 10 minutes, were shown and compared

an unstretched fibroblast appears to me like a tightly clustered star, while a fibroblast that’s been de-stressed or stretched, seemed to me like a kite or sail on the sea – but in this case, i guess the sea in us 😉

the stretching induced in the lab rats was non-traumatic or injurious as far as could be known

they were held lightly by their tail and raised just slightly, inducing a gripping of the edge of a platform by the front feet, while the back feet lifted into a relaxed pointing stretch – this was held for ten minutes


4) mri images were shown of the connective tissue, slightly below the skin, undamaged and damaged, with the damaged tissue being much more dense and inelastic

the more elastic healthy connective tissue had much more movement, and in several mri movies, we were able to see the sliding action of the various layers during movement

tissues that had more healthy, or if damaged – stretched, connective tissue, had much more movement between the layers during movement of that portion of the body –

layers would even move in opposite directions at different speeds!

indicating to me a great sense of interaction in our bodies!

certainly not a sense of a solid chunky movement 😉


5) images were also shown of how an acupuncture needle doesn’t simply stimulate a nerve or area, but intrinsic in the therapy is a slight twisting of the needle, which then wrapped the collagen fibers attached to the fibroblasts, and literally pulled the fibers like stretching a net or sail!

i’ve searched for awhile to find a page to link to with an adequate image to show this, but only found the typical topical photos, so i’ve attached the image from one of the flyers provided by Community Medical School at the university of vermont entitled, “connective tissue: the ‘glue’ that holds bodies together”


Connective Tissue & Needle Image
Connective Tissue & Needle Image


the one search that almost showed what i was looking for ironically had a university of vermont image on the top row 😉


Brochure Description of Lecture

the fall 2011 brochure of seminar topics from the community medical school has a great slogan, “you don’t have to be a brain surgeon to attend”

thank goodness 😉

the class description is so good and so accurately reflects the lecture we experienced i’ve reproduced it here :

“Nearly a dozen years ago, research at UVM determined that connective tissue – located between muscle, fat, and skin throughout the body – is responsible for the “tug” that occurs during acupuncture needling and may play a role in its therapeutic effects.  Find out how this remarkable tissue, which becomes stiff form injury, responds to the type of stretching performed through yoga, and how researchers are trying to determine whether or not there is a link between this mechanical stimulation and the tissue’s ability to heal.”

i could’ve placed the description above several places within my review, but felt this spot, nearer the acupuncture image, would also serve as a nice summary and confirmation


My Take Away

Reviews: Clear Sailing?

such simple confirmation, even at the elementary tentative level of research on lab rats, make me incredibly hopeful and optimistic for all of us

lecture information like this, plus articles like that from the himalayan institute, “aging gracefully,” which include references to data on how our bodies and brains work, are, as i see it, positive efforts at merging what’s in our hearts with what in our minds

it’s difficult in these days, and, if i read history even mildly correctly, all the days people have been around, with even yoga practitioners joining in protests against perceived (mostly justifiably i believe) injustices, it’s good to see positive movement in our awareness

and at the end of the day, we have to return to ourselves –

whether from the lab, the streets, the movies, or work, we return to ourselves –

and yoga, more so for me than other activities i enjoy or have enjoyed in my life (though not exclusively! 😉 ) provides a means for a gentle doable consistent return to our essences

whether through meditation, asanas (pose work), or breath work, yoga provides that gentleness


it’s interesting to note, that dr langevin, when asked by an audience member during the post-lecture Q&A, if she practiced yoga, replied yes, but at home in a self-practice, because the classes she’d tried were not as gentle as she needed or preferred

sheila and i are finding, more and more, with our target group, that the need for a doable gentle fitness routine, is not only the class type of choice, but crucial for retention


Resources for More Info


Lecture Goodies
Lecture Goodies


the information sheets and packet we were given had tons of information

these are a few items listed –



the lecture, we were told, was recorded for release in dvd or other formats

these are a list of places listed in one of the many (useful) handouts, where a person might find this and other lectures offered through the university of vermont’s community medical school

this is but a small sampling :

  • Dana Medical Library, UVM College of Medicine (802) 656-2200
  • Fletcher Free Library, Burlington (802) 863-3403
  • RETN Channel 16, Burlington area

titles, with dates issued notated, include:

  • “Aging and Frailty Factors: Who’s at Risk and What Prevention Measures Help?” – 2009
  • “The Doctors Without Borders Experience Sri Lanka 2009” – 2010
  • “The Family-Based Approach: Addressing Children’s Emotional-Behavioral Health” – 2010
  • “NOT All in Your Head: What is Migraine and How Is It Treated?” – 2011
List of relevant professional journal publications (as titled on flyer:)
(partial list) :
  • 2010 – “Tissue stretch induces nuclear remodeling in connective tissue fibroblasts. “Histochemistry and Cell Biology.
  • 2011 – “Fibroblast cytoskeletal remodeling contributes to connective tissue tension.” Journal of Cellular Physiology.
  • 2011 – “Sensory innervation of the non-specialized connective tissues in the low back of the rat.” Cells, Tissues, Organs


Via University of Vermont

Dr. Helene Langevin

The University of Vermont

Community Medical School

Frymoyer Community Health Resource Center


Final Thoughts

First, and Second 😉

first, please, bear in mind, these are my extrapolations; even dr langevin was clear that her lab and research results were strictly applicable to her test subjects, and the connection to human applicability had its own problems

second, my sincere thanks to the university of vermont for presenting such a useful approachable series of lectures and information for the general public, it is a true resource, not just for the local and state community, but for everyone and anyone interested


View from Campus
View from Campus


Things in the Body, Things in our Heart

connective tissues sliding past other tissues in gliding movements –

if thought patterns mimic biological patterns, the implications of over-lap, and “grey” areas” seems prominent to me


only some issues may be clear-cut yes/no questions and situations

which, unfortunately, doesn’t mean a yes or no is sometimes needed, with irreversible consequences; inaction, if reflection is unavailable, may not be an option at times


over-lap, to me, means some aspect of two opposite moving areas come into contact to facilitate optimal movement

sounds kinda like negotiating to me, compromise

again, not always possible; but certainly not always avoidable 😉


breath, yoga, relaxation and release of excess stress, promotes scar tissue repair, even after many years

we can heal…


as above so below, we are all one, we are all of a one, snow flakes have structures similar to stars

there’s an intuitive sense of connections among things, people, life living and life inorganic both, when i ponder a snowflake and a star

there’s a glimmer of similarity i gleam when i hear of research such as dr langevin has produced with her lab rats, and us – and it’s more than just the quick association to “rat pack” 😉


Magazine of Yoga’s Tom Myers Fascia Interview

one of my seminal online article introductions this year came via magazine of yoga

Conversation: Tom Myers, “Fascia as our ‘Organ of Form’”, part one and part two, added much to my being able to understand the implications of dr langevin’s work better than i would have otherwise

the concept of our own oneness of ourselves reaching from tip to tip and end to end of us, makes much more sense with even the slight grasp of what fascia and connective tissue within myself really is

and extending that fascia connectedness to notions of how we feel and think, well, just doesn’t seem such a stretch anymore 😉

namaste – con dios – god be with you


Other Yoga-Adan Links You Might Like

after attending, and now reviewing what i learned at the university of vermont’s presentation, i very humbly list some of my posts and articles and projects

if we can contribute to a better understanding of ourselves in our world, which in turn leads to a better quality of life for all of us, then i am glad to have contributed 😉

eBooks – Current Titles

Evolution of a Pose – Original Yoga Poetry


have you been to a lecture or talk you liked?

please feel free to leave a comment, thank you 😉



About Me




  1. It’s always good to hear new positive research that the stuff we’re doing is doing us good! Always good to hear we can heal our tissues.
    I do hope the rats were ok, I’m quite fond of rats, I had a couple as pets and they were lovely.


    • 😉 my son had a favorite hampster for awhile when he was a boy, cute!

      yea, researcher said rats seemed to enjoy their ten minute stretches 😉

      this kind of research affirmation really is good know!

      Sent from my iPhone


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