New set of Core Restore series started last week, and, as you might expect, the first class opened up with a conversation about stability, strength, and tension.
We talked about how many of us mistake tension for strength; and how many more use body-wide tension as a stability crutch. Does that resonate with you at all, ?
And, of course, we talked about getting rid of said tension, or, as I have put it in the header, “Search, Discover, and Let Go,” techniques.
I’ve discovered yoga therapy balls a few years back, all because the deep tissue massages that I was so fond of left me feeling waaaay too sore, and also wiped right out – often for days on end.
I needed an alternative, something I was able to do on my own – just a little bit every day – to systematically approach the tension areas that I couldn’t quite get to through stretching and yoga practice.
I started rolling, and got ball–converted in an instant!
Now that I teach the stuff, I see this happen often – yoga therapy balls are easy to fall in love with (especially if you are attending the ball – specific BALL + YIN class.)
Now I don’t go anywhere without the yoga balls – I even take them backpacking!
One of the reasons ball rolling is so effective is that we move in a different pattern on them than we usually do when standing up. This results in a kind of cross-training effect, where you relieve the muscles and joints of the usual stresses, and also activate them in fresh, innovative ways.
The nervous system gets a chance to try out new pathways for movement control, and gravity tugs on the body at different angles. Ball rolling and its direct effect on the nervous system is what makes this technique a perfect go-to tool for pain management.
When using the yoga therapy balls, follow these guidelines:
- Never roll the ball under an acute injury or an area of acute pain (in Pain Care classes we roll the yoga therapy balls on the wall; we also use softer balls for mat work)
- It can be helpful to roll the balls under the areas that have scar tissue from earlier injuries to create more flexibility and elasticity. If you feel a “good pain” that is merely the result of muscle tension, using balls is advisable.
- More slowly: by moving the body too fast, you will just jump over tension spots instead of smoothing them out.
- When you encounter a tension spot, imagine it melting away. Think of a sugar cube dissolving in tea, and transfer that idea of dissolving to the tension points.
- Keep breathing smoothly, especially if you discover a tension spot.
Think of the breath as a powerful agent for dissolving tension.
Breathe into the knots, and imagine the breath going to the center of the knot, dissolving it from inside out. Let the tension spots dissolve outward from the center and the residue vanish into the floor, away from the body.
- Do not use tennis balls. On many surfaces the tennis balls will slide rather then roll, so you will not get the traction needed for efficient release.
- Do not use rolling balls over your back and buttocks if you have acute sciatica; in class we’ve had great luck rolling the balls on the wall for chronic sciatic issues.
Most importantly, go gently, explore slowly, and have fun.
Myself (and now many – many – many Satori yogis!) have been astonished by the positive effect of ball rolling. This is why we apply ball-rolling liberally in all Satori classes.
Ball rolling is incredibly effective, especially when it is anchored in the larger framework of a yoga class. Applying the newfound freedom in muscles and joints to movement right after the ball rolling gives the nervous system a chance to not only record the improved range, but also integrate it for the future ease of movement.
As tension dissolves, our alignment and flexibility continues to improve.
Freed from tension that inhibits our ability to move and stabilize with ease, we develop a dynamic and fluid stability, a new kind of stability that doesn’t require bracing or splintering our bodies with tension.
Do you know someone who can benefit from yoga therapy?
Spread the love and share this e-mail – they will thank you for that!
Julia + SATORI YOGA TEAM
Hey, my name is Julia
Over the years I’ve gotten to be pretty good at this problem-solving and silver-lining finding thing.