This post was inspired by a student who is having adverse effects from scar tissue that has built up over 11 years since by-pass surgery. Her lung capacity, and thus oxygen intake, has been diminished. As you might imagine, this is not helpful in finding energy to go about your day. The effects of Yoga on oxygen, and how important this wonderful element is, is a discussion in itself. However, today I'd like to focus on scar tissue.
If you've lived more than a few years, it's almost guaranteed that you have scar tissue somewhere. AadilPalkhivala said that "frequently the sounds coming from your shoulders, during arm circles, is from you rubbing against scar tissue." If this is the case, then keep circling! The more you rub scar tissue, the more it breaks down. It's no surprise that scar tissue is commonly helped with massage.
Ideally, you want to keep active after an injury in order to encourage the muscle fibers (and scar tissue) to line up in the proper manner. It's when you are completely still, that fibers begin to line up haphazardly. This can result in limited mobility, and in this student's case limited mobility means limited breathing and all the side effects that come with it.
AlternativeMedicine.com says that Yoga "stretching can help ease scar tissue buildup." Julian Walker, long time Yoga teacher and co-creator of Core Sequencing, agrees. He says, "stretching deeply into areas of scar tissue helps to gradually break it down."
It is important to be patient. Scar tissue that took years to build up, cannot be expected to disappear overnight. Also, stay aware of alignment in order to prevent further scarring to occur.
A great pose for stretching the side rib cage and enhancing lung capacity is Gate or Parighasana. Check out this Yoga Journal article for a detailed explanation.