Q&A: Jill Miller
Created by fitness expert and bestselling author Jill Miller, Yoga Tune Up® is designed to help you live better in your body by using a combination of yoga, corrective exercise, self-massage, breath strategies, mindset and embodied anatomical education.
We had a chance to catch up with Jill in Los Angeles and learn more about this unique class from the creator herself.
When did you fall in love with yoga?
I started practicing yoga when I was a preteen, around 11 or 12. I grew up off the grid in a solar home – and we didn’t have cable. One day my mother brought home the Jane Fonda workout and the Raquel Welch yoga video. We decided to do the videos together and I became completely obsessed with them. I started checking out yoga books from the library and had my first subscription to Yoga Journal when I was 14 years old.
What inspired you to create Yoga Tune Up®?
When I started teaching yoga, I recognized that the poses themselves were often an imposition on people’s physical structures. I knew from my massage studies that the human body has a lot more potential for movement, range of motion, improved position and proprioception. But a lot of the poses were out of people’s realm of body sense, so they were actually creating bad habits.
I just started regressing poses and creating these tune up moments. I would bring people out of poses and have them do exercises to help facilitate body sense. Once people improved their mapping of themselves, then they could go back to the poses recomposed. The goal for me was never that they do better poses, the goal was that they live better in their body.
As I started teaching more and more, I realized that I needed to bring my massage work more directly to the students by having them do self-massage. I started to bring these therapy balls into the classroom as an awareness warm-up aimed towards where we were going in any given class. And that just took on a life of its own.
What are “body blind spots”?
Areas of your body that are overused, underused, misused, abused or confused. These are often catalysts for accidents or injury or are pain-makers. They are areas we’ve avoided, worked our way around, or don’t even know are within us.
Most people can find their way around their house in the dark better than they can locate a tissue within in their own body. As the body blind spots are brought to life, you become less lost in your own body. One should know their structure – it’s empowering. It gives you more agency, especially when dealing with pain.
How are the roll model balls used to help locate body blind spots?
We often become used to how our body feels but we’re actually disconnected from it. The different roll model balls (or Yoga Tune Up® therapy balls) are grippy. The texture creates a tremendous amount of shear in your tissues that facilitates neurological awakening and improves your body mapping. Just having an object touch you in the right place gives you feedback of how that tissue feels.
Who should be taking Yoga Tune Up® classes?
Anyone who wants to get to know their body better or perform more efficiently. One of the things we see a lot in yoga studios is body stress that comes from the repetition of the Vinyasa. If you come in once a week for a tune up, it’s going to help you perform all the other stuff better. It isn’t just yogis that are having problems with perceiving their body, it’s every community of mover.
The class is also for people who are recovering from injuries. It’s a prehab, so it prevents you from getting hurt, and it’s also a rehab. People in pain and chronic pain are really attracted to the work because they are getting non-medical, low cost solutions to treat their pain on a daily basis. I wrote a book about it called The Roll Model.
What should they know before taking a class?
They should be prepared to learn. You’re going to learn about your anatomy. Not that there is going to be a chalkboard, but you will learn embodied anatomy. You will walk out of that class feeling like you had the best soft tissue massage, plus a workout, plus your brain just grew from the education. You’ll have a very different spacial awareness and hopefully you’ll feel uplifted and inspired to get to know your body better.
How often should they go?
One to two times a week minimum.
Are there different levels?
No, YTU makes everybody a beginner. Every lesson puts you in that beginner’s mindset. The advancement is that you become more aware.
How can people live better in their own bodies outside of class?
How you do your body most is how your body does. You want to respect your body, your structure and your breath. Watch how you walk. Pay attention to how you breathe, how you sit and how you stand.
Bring novel movements into your day, into your life and into your practice. If we just keep doing the same thing everyday, we stagnate. Keep increasing your growth as a person on every level – from cell to conceptualizing life.