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Yoga Tune Up® Blog

December and January Events

By: | Thursday, December 1st, 2016 | Comments 0
Category: Uncategorized |

What better way to treat yourself during the Holidays and New Year than by taking a Teacher Training? Check below to find a Yoga Tune Up® or Roll Model® Method training coming your way!

The Roll Model® Method – The Science of Rolling

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Your Body on a Mountain Bike

Mountain biking: more than just legs

Mountain biking: More than just legs!

Get ready for the adventure of your body on a mountain bike. It’s time to hit the trails—enjoy the great outdoors, fresh air, trees, and dirt. Sounds fun huh?!

If you are an avid, average or a beginning cyclist, Yoga Tune Up® practices might be the way to take your cycling to another, higher level. Strength, neuromuscular education, and body balance, along with YTU Therapy Balls will help you feel more confident, relaxed in the saddle, hone your ability to stay focused on rough terrain, support you with inclines and declines, thereby improving every phase of your riding.

This is what you’ll need besides your bike, helmet, and water—a whole lot of your body!  So you don’t leave out anything essential here’s your packing list of specific areas to train for cycling enjoyment.

It is a misconception that the leg muscles are the main essential contributors and the most significant in your mechanics of riding. There is so much more because descents, ascents, and rugged terrain, all use different muscles.

Starting with your feet, since you apply force through your feet with each pedal stroke poor placement, for example pronation or supination, will travel up through the entire kinetic chain, causing stress or discomfort in the knees and hips.

Ankle and foot mobility is needed to balance the rest of your body on a bike

Ankle and foot mobility is needed to balance the rest of your body on a bike.

And yes the legs are super important and a necessary part of your whole experience. Once you are conscious of proper foot stroke placement, notice the knees, and maintain proper alignment over the centers of your feet, not rolling in toward your bike frame or bowing out beyond your pinky toes.  Move on up to the thighs,  quadriceps get tighter as they get stronger,  the rectus femoris functions to both flex your hip and extend the knee, whereas the vastus medialis assists straightening your knee in the down stroke. Gluteus maximus is used extensively when lifting and lowering our thighs, the semi tendinosis (a hamstring) works in conjunction to flex your knee, all these are major players in the pumping actions producing the pedal revolution. Read the rest of this blog post »

Thank Yourself This Thanksgiving

Tomorrow, many of us in the states will chop and prep our way to a delicious meal with friends and family for Thanksgiving. As you finalize your plans, try to don’t forget to get in a little self-care. After all, I know you’re all travelling with your therapy balls!

If you’re lucky enough to have Yoga Tune Up® classes in your area, go hang out with your friendly neighborhood YTU teacher, and bring a friend or two! I love seeing new faces in my classes around the holidays. There are classes and workshops happening throughout the holiday season, including November. Check them out here:

Practicing at home? I got you.

First up, work out some of the tension in your shoulders from running around the kitchen or talking to your uncle about politics. Put your shoulders back on your shoulders!

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Dialing Down to Boost Proprioception: Belly Breath, Not Just for Babies

I’m a couple weeks away from “D” day (Delivery day 😉 ) and physically pregnancy has been a gift. First trimester aside, I am still teaching multiple classes per week, I can walk for several miles, and I sit on the floor to eat meals and am able to get up with the same level of ease as before pregnancy.

But there are modifications that I’ve made in order to account for my ever growing “bump.” Also, in the first trimester I needed much more rest than usual. So I scaled back on commitments and tapped into some deeply constructive rest methods–specifically, breathing techniques that work the body’s main respiratory muscle, the diaphragm, to help boost proprioception and induce constructive rest.

Anatomy alert! The diaphragm is the key respiratory muscle, and is in charge of approximately 75% of our breathing capabilities (the external intercostal muscles contribute to about 25% of respiration). The diaphragm is a broad, dome-like shaped muscle that attaches to the ribs and lumbar spine. During inhalation the muscle fibers contract and the dome like shape descends as the ribs widen. Upon exhalation, the muscle ascends and the ribs narrow and this process is usually quite visible.

Want to relax? Get in touch with your diaphragm.

Want to relax? Get in touch with your diaphragm.

In Yoga Tune Up® we explore the following three abodes of breath:

  1. Clavicular breath is when the chest moves quite noticeably upon inhalation. Observing people during times of stress (i.e. hunched shoulders, shallow breath, chest moving but not much else) allows us to observe clavicular breath. Worth noting is that this form of breath has become the standard way of breathing, at the expense of other abodes.
  2. The second abode is known as the thoracic breath, which recruits the diaphragm a little more and you can observe movement of the rib cage is it moves right to left. This breath is particularly helpful during poses where there is little room for full belly breaths (think child’s pose).
  3. Abdominal breath is the most relaxing, and uses the diaphragm’s fuller range of motion as the muscle plunges deeper down. One way to recruit this type of breath is to recall to mind a time when you were in bed just before falling asleep and your belly was so soft, no need for “sucking in” or bracing or even shaping the breath. Try abdominal abode of breath with me by watching this belly breath video.

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Your Movement Medicine Cabinet: What Are the Roll Model Balls, and How Do They Work?

Any object you use to knead, compress, stroke, or prod your body without breaking the skin is a stress-transfer medium—a massage tool that attempts to mimic the touch of another human being. Throughout history, people have used objects to rub out their aches and pains. The oldest device found to date, a Neolithic jade ritual blade from China, is thought to be from 2000 BCE. Special sticks, stones, ropes, vibrating tools, and fabrics have been used for self-soothing for generations. It seems that everything old is new again, and self massage implements continue to be popular, slightly redesigned according to the medium of the day.

After years of trial and error, Jill Miller found a ball made from the right grippy rubber coupled with a pliable density with just enough squish to tumble into all the issues in her and her students’ tissues and The Roll Model Therapy Balls were born. They come in a variety of sizes to target different regions of the body for your desired pressure effect. Learn about the different ball sizes and the three significant features that make the therapy balls effective in the infographic below (click infographic to view full size).  Read the rest of this blog post »

Pregnancy, Balls, and Beyond!

By: | Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016 | Comments 6

Similar to a massage or taking aspirin, moderate therapy ball rolling induces similar relaxing effects. And a great compliment to a regular Yoga Tune Up® Therapy Ball rolling practice includes strength and stability. I’ve modified my lifestyle and environment with small consistent changes over the past couple years and am enjoying the measure of increased movement I experience.

But at over 30 weeks pregnancy, I need strength more than ever!  In my first Trimester, I did an exercise that was “not for me” during a group Mat class. Rather than abstaining (or modifying), I just followed along with the rest of the class. Mistake. The first dull pain I felt from that exercise progressed into sharp shooting pain down my leg. It took six weeks, therapy ball rolling, abstaining from my beloved swing dancing, sessions with my physical therapist, and corrective exercises to resolve the pain.

While this might not be your story, what health challenges are you facing that could benefit from a little posterior muscle activation? Perhaps getting up and down from the floor (or a chair) with greater ease?

Well… let’s drop it like a squat!

To find your squat and drop it:

  1. Position your feet at hip width distance.
  2. Relax your shoulders and toes.
  3. Keep your spine neutral.
  4. Hold onto a fixed support (handle/pole, etc.) as needed.
  5. Contract your glutes.
  6. Pause at your “edge,” and hang out!

While executing this move, we flex the hip with the help of the rectus femoris (part of the quadriceps femoris group) and activate the gluteal muscles (gluteus maximus, medius, and minimus). The gluteal muscles also help to flex the hip and, along with the hamstrings, quads, and calves, provide support during our squat descent.  Additionally, a host of other muscles are activated in any move that we execute. For example, to keep our spine in a neutrally upright position, the erector spinae group (which runs from the sacrum to the occiput along the vertebral column) works to extend the vertebral column.

This is a light overview of muscles recruited during our squat, and it’s good to keep in mind that our bodies are a reflection of the food, movement, psychology, history and trauma we may have experienced in our lives.

Practice this stability boosting move and reflect on how it feels on your body and how many of the alignment points above you can maintain while moving through each pose. To new beginnings and to your health!

Liked this article? Read Posture for Pregnancy and Beyond

November- December Upcoming Events

What better way to end the year than by taking a Teacher Training? Check below to find a Yoga Tune Up® or Roll Model® Method training coming your way!

Level 1 Teacher Training

The Roll Model® Method – The Science of Rolling

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Postnatal Mama

On Wednesday I spoke about my experience giving birth a second time and some suggestions on how to approach recovery. For my part I have found that the renewed ability to breathe, to feel and to move (not matter how difficult), have been true gifts in a period of physical and emotional turmoil.

If you haven’t already had a chance, I recommend giving Jill’s Healthy Pregnancy webinar a go as there are many tips and sequences that are gentle and appropriate post-partum. Beyond the webinar, here are two of my favourite post-natal moves that have given me tremendous relief.

Unshackle Your Breath and Ease Low Back Pain

We don’t necessarily realize this, but as the belly grows larger during pregnancy, it becomes more difficult to take a full breath, especially in the lower ribs. The body, smart as it is, adapts to its new state, leaving you with a less than optimal breath (and posture) once the belly is gone. A lack of suppleness in the respiratory muscles of the t-spine can lead to rigidity and be a culprit of lower back and neck pain for example. Start by releasing your thoracic spine and diaphragm with this fantastic upper back and shoulder sequence.


Then, standing in front of a mirror, find your perfect posture (See part I of Yoga Tune Up® for Mamahood for some cues on how to stand up for yourself). Cup your hands on your ribs, making sure to contact the lowest ribs and let your inhale push your hands away from one another as though your ribcage is an accordion (make sure you’re not compensating by breathing into the upper chest only); exhale to let the ribs return to their starting position and repeat as many times as is necessary to make the connection. Once you feel comfortable with this version, you can repeat seated and lying down. Read the rest of this blog post »

YTU Beyond Mamahood

In my previous blog, Yoga Tune Up® for Mamahood Part 3, I spoke about my last weeks of pregnancy. Well, I am now on the other side and the proud mama to a three-month old little dude.

The other side is wonderful, full of love, joy and excitement; and, of sleepless nights that don’t matter once you wake up to witness the miracle you’ve created. But it’s also a rollercoaster of emotions and comes with its own set of challenges.

Post C-section, I thought I’d get out of bed the same day, just like I did with my first boy. Nope, wasn’t going to happen! When I did manage to get up the following morning, I felt like a marionette whose strings had been sliced off. My breath had completely left me – my creepy shoulders had burrowed their way into my ears creating immense tension – and my whole body felt unstable, resulting in low back, knee and foot pain and a general feeling of dis-ease that stayed with me well into the first few weeks post-partum.

And so to the rescue came my beloved therapy balls. I had a set of YTU original Therapy Balls at hospital and as soon as I was able to be up and about for more than a few minutes, I self-massaged my upper back and shoulders against the wall to mobilize my T-spine, uncage my breath, and stop wearing my shoulders as earrings. The upper back sequence is now on my daily tap – between carrying my little guy and feeding him, my shoulders and thoracic spine need all the help they can get!

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Un-Wreck Your Rectus Femoris

By: | Friday, October 21st, 2016 | Comments 14

In part one of this blog you learned some common causes of trigger points in rectus femoris, where the trigger points tend to live, and problems they can cause. Today I will teach you how to tame these trigger points and rejuvenate this muscle!
My favorite way to work on these trigger points in RF is to lay prone on the floor and place an ALPHA ball at the front of my thigh. If this massage is too intense you can try using a pair of toted original Yoga Tune Up® Therapy Balls instead. I usually start at the top of my thigh (avoid the bikini line where there are blood vessels and ligaments that you don’t want to smash, go beneath it!) and do a stripping technique by rolling the ball up and down about an inch or so.

Once I find a tender trigger point I provide compression by resting on that spot. Then I do pin and stretch by slowly flexing and extending my knee. Finally, I use cross friction by flexing my knee, then moving my lower leg in and out like a windshield wiper. It is good to search several areas along your thigh, and notice if your most tender spots are at the common trigger point areas discussed in part one of this blog. If you massage toward the inner and outer thigh you may find trigger points in two of the other quadriceps muscles which can also contribute to knee pain, the vastus lateralis and vastus medialis.

If pain in your knee is an issue for you, you will also want to learn how to treat the hamstrings at the back of the thigh, adductors at the inner thigh, and the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles in the calf because they can contribute as well. You can search for a certified Yoga Tune Up® instructor for help learning how to treat these muscles. Read the rest of this blog post »