Video Fitness

Yoga Tune Up: Total Spinal Tune Up

Jill Miller

This is another offering from Jill Miller's Yoga Tune Up series, this one from her original collection. Like in all of her DVDs, it is just Jill teaching alone in a studio. The initial sound quality is not great--Jill's voice is quite echo-y, and you can occasionally here background traffic noise--but once the practice got started, this didn't bother me at all.

In my opinion, Jill's DVDs come closer to the feel of an actual yoga class than virtually any other yoga media. It is less a formal practice and more a "lesson" (a term Jill herself uses). Total Spinal Tune Up is designed to increase the range of motion of the spine from every possible plane. Jill starts by warming up the neck, first with neck undulations in three different directions, then with neck oscillations--eg, tracing the infinity symbol in front of you. Following this, she moves to the floor to begin the spinal work. She starts with a traditional cat/cow series but then transitions into spinal undulations; she speeds them up and goes quite fast here, but I just stay at a more moderate pace. Next comes a move called "Hopping Rabbit" (Jill has a lot of her own names for poses!): sitting on your heels, you use your abdominal muscles to repeatedly raise and lower your knees. Moving to hands and knees, she does some lateral rotations for the the spine.

Next Jill moves to a reclined position on the floor. First comes sidewinder, a move in which you perform lateral flexion/extension of your side by moving your left shoulder/knees together, then right, remaining flat on the floor all the while; this move gradually becomes larger through opening up the knees. Bridge pose follows, and then Jill does a variation on revolved stomach pose, a move which also appears in her Triangle Tune Up. Another bridge pose follows before repositioning to a face down position. Jill calls the next posture twisted half scorpion: you turn your head to one side, raise the leg on that same side, and then extend it backward for a rear leg extension with a spinal twist. After doing it on the other side, you do round two, this time raise the leg opposite to the turn of the head.

Finally, you move to your side for what Jill calls joint stacking, basically a move for tractioning your side torso. The next pose is revolved head-to-knee, and the final active posture is Urdva Paschimottanasana, or reclined forward bed (ie, performed lying on your back). The practice ends with approximately a 3-minute savanasa, bringing the total time to about 39 minutes.

Although I don't think this is a favorite amongst Jill's DVDs, I like it. The postures, while challenging, are generally very accessible, and by back definitely feels better after using this. If you've never tried Jill Miller before, this might not be the best place to start, but if that's not an issue, I definitely recommend this DVD.

Instructor comments: I like Jill--she's very down-to-earth, even a little bit goofy at times. She doesn't mirror cue but otherwise gives precise instruction on alignment and form. Her teaching is quite informal; it actually feels like she is right there in the room with you.

Beth C (aka toaster)

March 6, 2007

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