What’s all this about balls and tissues? And what does it have to do with your body and yoga? YD had a chance to ask Jill Miller, founder of Yoga Tune Up and author of The Roll Model, a few questions about her highly reviewed and mightily thorough new book as well as her method of the same name utilizing therapy and massage balls of various sizes and textures to help yogis and “movers” live more freely and find clarity in their bodies. Check out our brief interview with Jill below and then enter to win a copy of The Roll Model book plus the Roll Model Starter Kit – the whole kaboodle of balls to get yourself rolling.
YD: We’ve seen a growing interest in modern science and biomechanics with relation to our old familiar yoga practice. What is The Roll Model Method and how does it fit into that? The Roll Model Method is an adjunct practice to help students of any style of yoga (or movement) to increase your own body familiarity pre or post practice. It can enhance the mobility of your soft tissues and awaken your proprioceptive sense (body sense). The grippy, pliable Roll Model Balls introduce you to the multiple textures of your own body and over time helps you identify specific soft and hard tissue structures.
They help you map your own anatomy and befriend it. Mapping yourself is empowering, it helps you to distinguish and differentiate your different parts so that they cooperate better as a whole. Each body part and YOU become more intelligent while performing in motion or stillness. This helps you become a better cartographer of your own internal landscape so that your movements within the context of asana (or any movement practice) can be done with magnified awareness. The Roll Model Method is also a self-rehabilitative tool to help yogis (and movers) of every discipline to take care of their own aches and pains or reduce stress whether from daily living, an injury or practice.
The Roll Model is not solely targeted to yogis, but what are some ways yoga practitioners, specifically, might benefit from the book and from using massage balls?
There are many ways this work supports a yoga practice. Here are just a few highlights:
1) Yogis are brilliant at tuning in to their parasympathetic nervous system, the “rest/digest/repair” phenomenon of being down-regulated. The Roll Model tools are like an express train to help you relax. The tools and the sequences carve pathways to hasten relaxation as well as improve your ability to switch into a deeply relaxed state.
2) Additionally, the Roll Model Balls are a wonderful way to quickly prepare tissues that may be sore, bound up from accidents & injuries or are stiff from sitting in cars or chairs. Some strategic rolling can rub away obstacles to practice so that you can practice more safely and effectively (see answers to question #1).
3) Sole Searching: At a minimum, the Roll Model Balls can quickly sensitize your feet for the barefoot practice of yoga. I personally never skip a day of doing a few minutes of rolling underneath my feet. With much their days trapped in shoes, your feet lose the gift of their tactile sensitivity. A brief rollout before you practice will have a ripple effect throughout your whole body and help your feet to find better footing on the mat in all of your positions. #Toeprioception
Many of us might practice yoga for stress relief and relaxation, but how do massage and myofascial release relate to our stress levels, too?
One of the stories in The Roll Model book is of a yogini who was raped in her teens. Her trauma haunted her for years. One day she found herself in a Yoga Tune Up class lying on a Coregeous Ball for her abdomen while doing pranayama (breath exercises) and found it impossible to breathe. She recognized her breath restriction as a physical manifestation of body armor she was still using to protect herself with from the assault. The self-myofascial massage with the ball slowly helped her to peel it away layer by layer.
Your body has a habit of holding itself in a certain way, even when you are completely relaxed, this is often referred to as “resting tone.” Your resting tone is not always very restful as it is regulated by your brain in ways that are both conscious and unconscious. You can message yourself to “let go,” but often times, there are still remnants of contracted tissue that refuse to yield. Massage and myofascial release (when applied sensitively) helps to minimize this unconscious muscle bracing and reverse the habit of hidden muscle tension. The Therapy Balls apply local stretch into your tissues, this ultimately assists to unbind stiffness in hypertonic muscles resulting in global relaxation for the whole body. Unlocking your tension also can help relieve pent up emotion or unexpressed feelings. When the therapy balls loosen your tight tissues, they may also alleviate the emotional component that is intimately connected with stress, anxiety and trauma.
As with interest in biomechanics, yoga-related injuries have been a big topic of discussion recently, too. You advise in a section of the book (excerpted here) not to mistake yoga as a general Rx. What advice would you give a newbie yoga practitioner concerned about getting hurt during yoga class?
1) Find a teacher who understands how to customize poses for your body, structure, issues, and capability.
2) Do not be in a hurry to “go deeper.”
3) Learn to find stability as well as mobility in your practice.
4) Cultivate the concentration to stay focused on the variety of sensations and feelings emanating from the different areas of your body rather than disassociating from your body or simply enduring a pose that feels painful
5) Practice Savasana and respect your body’s need for rest and repair when you first start. You may need to take a couple of days off between classes when you first begin. Gradually increase your “dose” of practice as your tissues acclimate to this new exploration.
And now…the GIVEAWAY!
WIN: We’re giving away The Roll Model super roller kit: a copy of The Roll Model: A Step-by-Step Guide to Erase Pain, Improve Mobility, and Live Better in Your Body by Jill Miller PLUS The Roll Model Starter Kit which includes all of the balls used in the book, courtesy of Jill Miller and Yoga Tune Up Fitness Worldwide.
TO ENTER: Some days things are just great. And other days, well, we shake our fists at retrograding Mercury, pick up our pieces and carry on. In other words, we roll with it. And on those certain days, dang if we aren’t super lucky to have yoga and meditation to help us keep things rolling. To enter in this giveaway, share with how yoga, meditation, pranayama or another practice helps you roll with it (or could potentially help you – hey, we’re not perfect!) when the road seems rockier than Sylvester Stallone. Be however brief or verbose as you like. Post your entry in the comments below, OR on our facebook page, OR on twitter (tag @yogadork and @YogaTuneUp and add #yogarollwithit).
The giveaway will remain open until 11:59pm Monday, March 9, 2015. A winner will be randomly chosen and announced soon after. Good luck!
Update: Thank you all for sharing the helpful ways you keep things rolling. Our winner comes from twitter this time around. Congrats to Jeni Kocher Zerphy @steelcrab_inc! It’s been great reading all of your entries.