Yoga Tune Up® Blog

Meet the Teacher Trainer: Alexandra Ellis

blue-tank-on-grey-900pxMeet Alexandra Ellis, a member of our teaching team who leads weekly Yoga Tune Up® and Mobility for Performance classes in Los Angeles and YTU trainings nationwide.

How did you discover Yoga Tune Up® and why did you decide to become a teacher?

I found YTU in 2012 at the Symposium for Yoga Therapy and Research. My first experience involved putting the therapy balls in my upper traps and while I didn’t fully understand what it was, in that moment I knew I KNEADED it! I had just completed my bachelor’s in Exercise Biology from UC Davis and was struggling to bridge the gap between yoga, movement, and biomechanics when I started teaching in yoga studios. YTU is the perfect complement to both – intelligent movement that is designed to help people navigate their bodies in any practice they do. I also love that YTU unleashed my creativity, allowing me to teach classes that are always different and yet feel like they are curated for my students’ bodies. 
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Fortify Your Foundation & Heal Your Feet

Welcome back!  In part 1 of this blog, I talked about the peroneus longus/fibularis longus, but there’s another player involved.  It is the peroneus brevis.  From The Core Walking website:  “Both peroneus brevis and peroneus longus are plantar flexors — they step on the gas pedal of a car. And they are both involved in eversion or pronation of the foot—they roll from the outside to the inside. Peroneus brevis aids the successful roll from the outer foot to the inner foot in a good walking step and peroneus longus supports the transverse arch and helps to stabilize the first metatarsal bone against the ground when you push off to walk or run. If these muscles are weak or don’t function correctly the midfoot and the transverse arch will be unstable and unable to provide support to the inner arch of the foot..” Yes, please.  The science makes sense! Read the rest of this blog post »

The Hokey Pokey is not hocus pocus.  Or is it?  Take charge of your healing. 

You put your big toe in, you put your big toe out, you put your big toe in and you shake it all —OUCH.  It hurt to scrunch (flex) my big toe on the right foot. It hurt to move the big toe mound.  My right ankle would get stuck sometimes and give out sometimes. It hurt up the lateral seam (outside) of my leg and I would have numbness and tingling in the foot and up the leg. There was a lot of pain around the head of the fibula (bone on the outside of the leg just below the knee) and up into the IT band and right hip. I know everything is connected, but this is ridiculous.  I just want to do the hokey pokey.  Or walk.  Or practice yoga.  So I went to visit my friend Sarah Court.  Read her blogs on this site.  You won’t be disappointed.

Sarah gave me homework which included squatting more, lunging more, and strengthening my intrinsic foot muscles, ankles, calves — beginning to see a pattern? The homework also included, but was not limited to, scrunching up a bandana or a towel with my toes.  Over and over again, I would toe scrunch sitting at my computer.  Oh, and my least favorite homework, the heel lifts.  Just stand up and lift your heels 25 times!  I could barely get to 10 without my calves and lower legs feeling like they were on fire. Read the rest of this blog post »

Let Your SI Breathe a Sigh of Relief

On Wednesday, I wrote about my initial sacroiliac joint injury and the general mechanisms for common issues with the SIJ. After my injury, the next step was to seek out a manual therapist who released the tissues surrounding my right hip along with a gentle adjustment of the SI joint and pubic bone. This was painless.

Immediately after, I was standing with equal weight in both my legs, my belly button more centered, and the creak in my neck disappeared quickly thereafter. I still had plenty of issues in my tissues, including unyielding adductors, QLs and piriformis that were just working too hard, all the time, but this was a huge step forward.

Nowadays, I maintain a regular routine with my Yoga Tune Up® Therapy balls to decongest my tissues. I especially love using the Alpha Ball to take a tour of my pelvis. Check out this great Yoga Tune Up® self-massage video for a wonderful release for your piriformis and all of the muscles that run from your sacrum to femur. While Jill demonstrates in the video with the YTU Therapy Balls, feel free to experiment with any size of Roll Model Therapy Ball.  Read the rest of this blog post »

It’s Your Neck, It’s Your Knee, It’s Your Lower Back. No, It’s Your Sacroiliac Joint!

Sometimes you feel invincible. Despite having had two surgeries on my spine, my body felt so great at the time, I decided to take a kickboxing class. Turns out that wasn’t such a great idea (and that I’m not invincible after all).  After a few kicks, I felt tremendous pain in my lower back and simply couldn’t go on. I knew the incident wasn’t disc-related – the pain was completely different, yet just as intense.

After a few days, the discomfort eventually dulled and subsided. I returned to my usual activities – Pilates, yoga and swimming. Weeks later, I picked up my then toddler, and felt as though the right side of my pelvis had separated from the rest of my body; it was excruciating. And then it felt better. I would bend down to pick up something, and it would return. Round and round. While the episodes became less recurrent, I knew something had shifted, but I wasn’t quite sure what. My right leg felt longer and my foot supination worsened, forward folds became uncomfortable, my pelvis started to rotate to the left, my right hip became bothersome, and I experienced the occasional creak in my neck. I stayed like this for two years, thinking I must have damaged my back or spine. Except I hadn’t. I had posteriorly rotated my sacroiliac joint. Read the rest of this blog post »

Awakening a Sleepy Gluteus Medius

On Wednesday, I told you the story of growing up with “turned in legs”. I discovered many years later that the pain and weakness in my hips and knees I’d experienced as a child was mostly due to a very weak, very sleepy gluteus medius. It wasn’t until I found Yoga Tune Up®, that I began to find relief and fully understand the important role this muscle plays is in all aspects of running, walking, sitting, standing and my beloved yoga.

To begin to awaken my very droopy glute med, I started with Prasarita Lunges, emphasizing “pushing” from side to side, using abductors to initiate the movement and warming up the outer and inner hips. Check out the video here: Read the rest of this blog post »

Getting To Know Your Gluteus Medius

By: | Wednesday, August 12th, 2015 | Comments 2

I’ve always been active – and now as I reflect back, I’ve also always had trouble with my knees, hips and feet. It was something I never really thought about until my 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training two years ago when I was injured on day two during a Tadasana intensive. Tadasana. Standing up straight and aligned.

I was born with hips that were internally rotated and wore leg casts as an infant. As a toddler, I wore shoes with a bar across the soles to keep my feet and legs from turning in. My younger years (5-10) were spent in ballet classes where teachers would try to correct “my turned-in legs”. I didn’t help. Eventually, I left ballet (yay!) and went about pursuing other sports. As I grew up, there were repeated visits to the orthopedic doctor; severe shin splints, slipped kneecaps, various strains and sprains all followed up with physical therapy and finally orthotics – custom made inserts for my shoes – all before the age of 12. I had extremely high arches, weak ankles, and my knees continued to turn in towards each other.   I also had a lovely party trick: I could (and still can) pop my femur head out of its socket. I used to think it was amusing, now I know it’s a sign of weakness and misalignment.

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Hip Socket Space, Available Immediately! A Step on the Path to Pelvic Neutral

Earlier this week, I covered some unwelcome consequences of losing your awareness of a neutral pelvis and promised a tip for peeling away the head of the femur bone from the front rim of your hip socket. This practice has allowed me to retrain my perception to accept nothing less than a balanced pelvis for sitting and standing and has educated many of my students on how to target a neutral pelvis for supine positions. With that information, students then graduate the knowledge into standing postures and movement off of their mats. It is one of my favorites to share, practice and observe in my own work. Read the rest of this blog post »

Hip Space Available Immediately: A Step on the Path to a Balanced Pelvis

Right now, I’m pelvis obsessed.

My pelvis is top of mind lately whenever I’m walking, sitting or standing – all because I’ve lost neutral. This is no small problem in the world of healthful posture; I’m driving my awareness into the complicated parking lot of my pelvic alignment to reteach myself the natural curves of my spine in hope of avoiding the congestion, read PAIN, in the low back from which more than 70% of Americans suffer from at some point during our lives.

In my case, I plunge my pelvis forward and point the bony structures at the base of my pelvis (ishial tuberosties) toward the space in front of my feet, instead of directing them toward my heels.  This is a very common misalignment in our siting culture, made up in large number of folks that further compound the problem by sitting way too much, as well as sitting poorly. We all get very accustomed to the sensation of rolling the bottom of the pelvis under us and sitting too far back on the meat of our bottoms, carrying this position into how we move around the world. This familiarity can play games with perception as well, allowing this misalignment to sneak below your awareness like the background noise in a coffee shop, ever present but unsensed. This habit has some significant consequences, none of which include a healthy low back. Read the rest of this blog post »

Release Your Shins, Release Your Feet

In my last article, I alluded to the problems of “positive” heeled shoes and most of the time I practice what I preach,  shoeless at home and at work – and often “barefoot” shoes when I’m not. I’ve also been dancing tango for the past 17 years or so, so my feet and I know our way around a pair of high heels.

Thanks to my Pilates and Yoga Tune Up® practice, I have a some great tools to counteract the damage I do dancing for hours in 3” stilletos. These are also every effective if you have forefoot and shin tightness from running (especially up and down hills and stairs) or even from sitting in chairs too often.

The Shin-Roll Sequence in The Roll Model: A Step-by-Step Guide to Erase Pain, Improve Mobility, and Live Better in Your Body (Jill Miller, 206-209) is a great way to relieve tightness in the extensor digitorum longus (EDL), as well as all of the muscles that are named in the Embody Map section (204). Read the rest of this blog post »

Jill Miller, Creator of Yoga Tune Up®

After studying yoga, movement, and the human body for over twenty years, I created Yoga Tune Up® as a simple way to restore my body and mind, keeping me balanced and free of pain. Using a specific and unique set of poses, movements and self massage tools, you too can LIVE BETTER IN YOUR BODY WITH YOGA TUNE UP®.


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