When you own a car, you know that as soon as your mileage hits certain numbers you need to bring it in for a tune-up for this or that. If left neglected, your vehicle could suddenly stop working the way it should–maybe when you need it most.
Our bodies are no different. A little more complex, for sure, but we still have to make a conscious effort to maintain their well-being–or we just might not be able to do the things we want to.
So here’s where I get to introduce you to Yoga Tune Up, created by Jill Miller, which is designed to “make you do whatever you love better.” While some use it as their only form of exercise, more and more people are discovering this new form of yoga as a great way to work out the kinks in their bodies so that they can improve in running/tennis/golf/swimming or any kind of sport they do regularly.
“Let’s say you love running,” Jill Miller tells me. “It really stresses certain joints of your body, and it overworks certain muscles to such a degree that it can render you dysfunctional in other movement patters. And so, we have specific quick fix sequences targeted at common issues of the body…. The exercises are meant to help lubricate the joints that are overused and bring more mobility to different directions of the hips that are being underutilized in that given activity.”
Offered as specific workshops in different yoga studios across North America (or through at home videos available on the site), Yoga Tune Up is great for athletes of all skill levels, especially teens. “I started practicing yoga when I was 11, and I got really, really into it in my mid-teens,” says Jill. “One of the [concerns] now-a-days is the weight of backpacks and the number of hours that we spend sitting in front of the computers doing homework; you develop unbelievably bad postural habits.”
In order to combat these bad habits, Jill suggests using the Yoga Tune Up Therapy Balls. They look a bit like over-sized squash balls and are used as a kind of self-massage, bringing back “circulation and functionality to tissue,” removing knots and congestion from your muscles.
In combination with yoga postures and stretching (which you may be familiar with from the numerous yoga styles that are available today), Yoga Tune Up adds this extra element of therapy balls to the mix, creating an exercise regime that is both challenging and restorative.
As a fairly recent convert to yoga (within the past few years), I was invited out to one of her workshops in downtown Toronto, at the Yoga Sanctuary. It was called Yoga Tune Up: Breathe In, Bliss Out. The practice involved specific leg stretches, ball rolling (where the therapy balls are placed underneath the back in different spots while your body is on the floor) and meditation.
It took place on a Friday evening, after a particularly stressful work week and–OMG–I can’t even begin to tell you how amazing the experience was. Most yoga practices leave me feeling energized, because my body feels like it got a good workout, but I’m also tired from all the exercise. Breathe In, Bliss Out was energizing in a completely different way: like all of my limbs were alive again–fully rested and ready for action again. It was empowering.
And that’s exactly what Jill is after. When I asked her what’s the best part of her job, she didn’t hesitate with the answer. “Working with people from every shape and size, from every corner of the earth,” she says. “Helping people who are at the end of their rope of options, who don’t feel that there is a possibility of health, thriving and feeling better–helping those people to actually become empowered and find solutions that really do make a difference on a daily basis.”