Three years after the birth of my last child, I had an opportunity to attend a summer program at the YMCA which eventually led to 13 years of serving as aerobic director at that YMCA branch. While looking for new programs for the facility, I was at a bookstore and saw a book titled Pilates. (I pronounced it pilots.) Thus began my passionate journey into the world of mind/body exercise. While I loved rocking out on the step to “Another One Bites the Dust,” my body often did not like it. My right side—neck, shoulders, back, hip, knee, and foot—often experienced pain and discomfort. My belly button hung somewhere around my pubic bone, and what should have been my abdomen hung loosely on my thighs. In spite of truly heroic efforts to do situps and crunches, I could not feel anything between my ribcage and my legs. It was like a big, black hole without sensation. I immediately knew by just looking at the pictures in the Pilates book that this was a powerful form of exercise. I received my Pilates training through Stott-Pilates and was certified to teach a few years later.
Not having any anatomical background, I had so many questions while I was being trained. My teacher was wonderful about taking time to answer my questions. Advice: When trying to learn something new and intimidating, find a good teacher who does not mind you asking lots of questions and who will take the time to answer them.
I started teaching Pilates at the YMCA in a closet with a simple reformer machine. I loved being able to move laying down where the abdominal issues did not create the problems I felt when standing. My husband eventually tore down a wall to create a studio where I taught for many years. During this time I was also introduced to the wonderful practice of yoga. The teacher at the YMCA was moving, and
they needed to train someone quickly. As I became certified to teach yoga, I realized that the principles taught in pilates were much the same as the principles taught in yoga movement, and I loved that it could be very gentle and be done without equipment.
I attended fitness conferences (I remember the first time Zumba was introduced!). I discovered I loved all the mind/body movement classes—Yoga, Pilates, Gyrotonics, Feldenkreis, Tai Chi, the Franklin Method. My teaching progres
sively moved from telling people to follow me or do as I do to asking them about what they were feeling and particularly where they felt restriction to their movement. I soon developed a deep appreciation for the uniqueness of each body and its challenges. General movement is fine, great even, for a body that is young, uninjured, and healthy. But what do we do about the surgeries, accidents, and pregnancies that cause us to develop restricted body movement patterns?
My answer came at a fitness conference where Yamuna Zake presented her method of releasing these restrictions using a ball. She called it Yamuna Body Rolling. Her
emphasis was on realigning the skeleton by releasing the restrictions that hold the bones in unhealthy patterns. I knew I had to learn more. She operates out of New York City. I have made many, many trips there to be trained by this wonderful woman and teacher who believes very passionately that we can DO something about our physical problems besides taking drugs or undergoing surgery. I completed my YBR (Yamuna Body Rolling) certification in 2007 and used it extensively in my yoga and pilates teaching. The power of using pressure from a ball and traction from body position, moving from bone to tendon to muscle, has a truly amazing potential for eliminating pain and discomfort and facilitating healthy movement. Much of this power lies in self-empowering the individual though educating both body and mind. I spent many years verbally cueing what a client should do or feel in their movements. With the help of the ball, the client can actually feel in a tactile manner what they are needing to do. The knowledge then becomes theirs to work with as they heal their own body at their own pace and in their own way. Because education and self-care are really the goals of Yamuna’s work, the ball rolling work is essential. However, I have found the ball rolling work to be much more effective if the client also experiences hands on work in a private session.
She has two methods of hands on treatment–Table Treatment and Body Logic. To explain these methods, I should give a brief history of Yamuna’s own journey. Yamuna comes from a yoga background with medical training and a gift for understanding how the body should move and what is wrong if it is not moving as it should. She knew much of the healing community was missing the boat by not working with the foundation of our bodies–our bones. Over many years she developed a method to release the impact in the bones of the body which is often the cause of pain and discomfort. She called this method she developed Body Logic. While doing many Body Logic sessions a day, she found her own body was having problems from the repetitive movement. Body workers of many modalities can identify with this. Once again her genius went to work, and she developed the Body Rolling from her Body Logic work. Whereas in Body Logic the practitioner’s body provides the traction and pressure, in Body Rolling a ball provides the pressure, and the person’s body position provides the traction. YBR is a direct adaptation of the Body Logic work. While using the ball work on her own body, she envisioned the power of this work to help other people learn about how to care for their own bodies. The educational curve to teach YBR instructors Body Rolling was not nearly what it was to train Body Logic practitioners, and in this way her work was made much more accessible to the world–and the world loved it. Holistic care and alternatives are much sought after internationally, and Yamuna has made a name for herself in countries throughout the world.
I experienced this Yamuna world when I had the great privilege to pursue my own Body Logic training. In 2013 my children were grown and gone, and I decided to spend the next two years learning this powerful foundation work. There were 14 of us in this training, and my fellow students were from many different countries–Turkey, the Czech Republic, Portugal, Israel, Columbia, Russia. Yamuna has an especially large following in Japan and a growing presence in Europe as well. I feel deeply humble to be a part of this group of dedicated healers. I completed my Body Logic training at the end of 2014. The next year was focused on completing my practicum training with many wonderful clients who let me learn from working on them. I completed my Body Logic certification at the beginning of 2016.
Also in 2016 I completed the Table Treatment training. I describe Table Treatment as hands on body rolling. This treatment is done on a table. The practitioner provides the traction, but a ball is used for the pressure. I especially like Table Treatment as an introduction to Yamuna’s work. If someone is not familiar with body work, if their minds and bodies have not already received training by massage therapists, rolfers, etc., Table Treatment is where I like to begin. They can feel what the work is about without the intensity or holistic requirements of Body Logic. I have found it to be a great introduction. It is also less expensive and requires less time, so it is more accessible in that way as well.
These two hands on treatments–Table Treatment and Body Logic are very effective in helping people understand and use the balls in their own Body Rolling work. I often present workshops at pilates and yoga studios. I tell people that a workshop is like a lunch date. You are getting just a little introduction to what a ball and pressure and traction can do. Hopefully it is enough of an introduction to spark a fire of desire to learn more. Because the emphasis is education, the hands on work is like a crash course, and the ball rolling provides the homework so that both body and mind are better prepared to “learn more” in the next session. It is a beautiful and effective combination.
The journey continues with even more opportunities to teach Yamuna’s work to a world desperately needing it. My seven children (and currently 14 grandchildren) are now scattered throughout the United States with one child in Spain. I love to travel, visit with them, and work at the same time. I have had the incredible opportunity to work with many pilates and yoga studio owners to present both workshops and private sessions for their clients. These studio owners are the most loving and giving people! They have dedicated their lives to helping people feel better–and they are certainly not doing it for the money! Because of their training they understand the work instantly, and they become my best soldiers to help spread the word. It has been a deep privilege to get to know them and their clients and help bring this healing education to them. And traveling is a good thing for me at this time in my journey. It is truly a win-win. With healthcare in such turmoil and without much hope for anything better in the future, taking personal responsibility for our bodies will become absolutely critical. There is a growing community of competent and courageous body work healers–from yoga and pilates teachers to massage therapists and chiropractors to rolfers and reiki practitioners. I would encourage anyone who is having pain, discomfort, or any other trouble of body or mind to look into these mind/body alternatives and find a good teacher who can guide them through their personal and unique challenges. We each have our own journey of body and mind and soul. Open your heart to possibilities and find those teachers who can help you on yours.