Knowledge is power, and embodied knowledge — that you not only know, but feel — is key to high performance. Here are two ball-based body releases and one self-care technique from Jill Miller, self-care expert and creator of Treat While You Train, designed to give you insight into your anatomy.
To get started, you’ll need one Yoga Tune Up® (YTU) Therapy Ball.
Give your mind the challenge of physiological listening, and improve your ability to sense your breath and your heart’s pace. You can do this — and increase your concentration and focus — by counting four phases of breath as if you’re watching the most captivating movie ever made: the movie of your interior world.
- Lie down comfortably on a mat or the floor. Let your arms rest by your sides and form the OK mudra symbol with each index finger and thumb. Close your eyes gently.
- Inhale for a count of four heartbeats.
- Hold that breath for a count of two heartbeats.
- Exhale for a count of six heartbeats.
- Hold that emptiness for two heartbeats, and then begin again.
Map Your Back
Equipment: one YTU Therapy Ball
Your spine houses the brain’s tail (your spinal cord), and if you have tension patterns that affect the small muscles along your spine, the ripple effect impacts many systems of your body. That’s because your body’s physiological processes depend on your spinal nerves functioning well, and they function best when spinal alignment is optimized. Spinal alignment ultimately helps your body to “think” clearly.
- Lie down on a mat or the floor with knees bent and feet planted hip-width apart on the floor. Place a YTU Therapy Ball underneath you alongside the base of your spine or at the top of your spine.
- Interlace your fingers behind your head and lift your elbows toward your ears.
- At a snail’s pace, move your body to trace one side of the spine with the YTU Therapy Ball to awaken all the paraspinal musculature, feeling textures, topography and sensation. Switch sides.
- Use this movement to familiarize yourself with the root of your posture and body sense: your spine.
This move takes your shoulders through their full range of motion dynamically. It also requires you to hone in on cross-pattern skills that we lose if we don’t use them. Cross-pattern movements are important because they awaken the right and left hemispheres of the brain.
- Stand with feet hip-width apart, core engaged and spine tall.
- Extend your arms straight in front of you.
- Simultaneously rotate your right arm up over your head and behind you in a full circle as you rotate your left arm down and behind you in a full circle. Move both arms at the same pace so that they pass each other in front of you with each rotation.
- Complete several rotations in this direction, and then switch: Move your left arm up and overhead as you rotate your right arm down and behind.
- Limit your movement to your shoulders — it’s a great way to warm up your body and mind!