Pain, Posture & Performance with Jill Miller
So here's what we're gonna do.
Brother from another mother.
Absolutely. And this is my assistant, Nigel.
We already introduced Nigel. Everyone knows, so--
I was just gonna say, if you could tell us a little bit about Jill.
Absolutely. So my introduction with Jill is that Jill came through us through some mutual friends who are in the strength and conditioning community, friends at Crossfit, Virtuosity.
Yeah, which is one of our friends--
in New York. And he was like, hey. He was following and doing some of the work that Jill was doing with her yoga athletes and in this sphere. And he's like you know what? There's this guy named Kelly Stora and you guys talk a lot alike and have a similar idea. And I don't know if it's just confirmation bias or awesome bis, but as soon as I met Jill, we realized that what we were doing is we're really seeing the same practice. And this is that mutually culminating concept we talked about ...
before. We should see that everything that Jill says matches up, and I should be able to scale it up into the most elite and I should scale it down to my momma and my grandma, right? All of these things should inter lap perfectly with what I'm saying and that's what what's happened.
And what's nice about Jill is that Jill occupies a space in the connective tissue, fascious, soft tissue community that I don't impact. And so she's a ninja expert and one of these tissue systems. And turns out she has really, really excellent skills in getting the diaphragm organized. So this is breathing mechanics would you say is your bread and butter?
Bread and butter, absolutely. Getting corganized, isolating the respiratory diaphragm, yes. Corganization is what we're after here.
Corganization. Tina, you can't even take that. It's alright, circle C, it's already done (Jill laughs). So here's the deal, is that what we intend to do until the lunch break, is try to get as much done about trying to effect this breathing mechanism which is a simple, neuromuscular system. And it is deeply messed up in most of the human beings we know.
Yep. So, thanks for having me Kel.
This is amazing. I want to share with you all some easy to do techniques that are gonna help you to access your diaphragm. I call myself a pain abolitionist because, like Kelly, I teach people to fix themselves. But I very much am talking mostly to the yoga space and the fitness space and not necessarily the high athletes. Broken bodies come to me, and broken bodies do yoga tune-up. And we help people with what I call the three P's, which is pain, posture and performance.
Sounds a lot alike. We talked about this a little bit already today. I'm curious.
Yeah, it's weird isn't it? The overlap. So I help people to eradicate pain, improve their posture and enhance performance no matter what it is they do. Whatever they want to do well, and do well without pain because pain is a huge deterrent to you getting up and doing things. And it's fixable. Like Kelly put those statistics up earlier. So much of this is fixable. And we're gonna do that today. So one of the things that we are gonna be going after is what I call your body blind spots. And body blind spots are catalysts for injury if you're not already injured. And these are the areas that are over-used, under-used, misused or abused. Great. So what these body blind spots are, these are areas that we're not perceiving ourselves well. We're not actually getting a sense of ourself inside of our skin. So I'm gonna help you to locate tissue, to better propriocep, to get a sense of yourself from inside out. And in yoga tune-up, we use a combination of yoga, conscious corrective exercise, self-care with grippy, pliable yoga tune-up therapy balls that you guys all have, and stress reduction techniques. Conscious relaxation, which is super, super key. And that takes us right into what we're here to do, which is to eliminate bad breath. Yeah, it's not the bad breath that you have from the coffee you drank five hours ago and didn't take a mint. But in terms of bad breathing, your respiratory muscles, they are lining the insides of your ribs. They're hooking onto your spine, and they're connecting to multiple core layers. You breathe 20,000 times a day on average. So if you have a dysfunctional breathing pattern, you're doing 20,000 dysfunctional breaths. And that inevitably leads to whole body dysfunction. And not just whole body dysfunction, but it also is going to drive you crazy. Because it is mentally and emotionally stressful. Can you imagine doing 20,000 burpees wrong? Every single day of your life? And what that would do to you? You're nodding. But people are doing that to themselves just right now, while you're standing and breathing. So I'm gonna help you to, which way do I point?
Let's see, there you go.
Ah-hah! To locate your respiratory diaphragm. To locate the very invisible diaphragm. Yeah, your biceps are visible, your quads are visible. The diaphragm, it's hard to see and it's hard to contact, but we'll do that today. And what this is gonna help us to do is turn on our off switch. To help with recovery or, a even better term for this, is our adaptation response. So we'll set up circumstances where our bodies can heal and repair themselves. Anatomy of the diaphragm. So, I will show you. This is a beautiful illustration by one of my students, Harry Jeff Kalsa, she does little anatomy cartoons with diaphragms and I'm very fond of them. But I'm gonna show you here on the skeleton model approximately where your diaphragm is. And I'm wondering, Alexandra can I use your fingers? He has a very broad rib cage, so this deflated spongeball isn't staying in there so well, so if you could just hold your fingers up to that. So your diaphragm, folks, is lining the inside of your ribcage. Yeah, in fact let's touch ours right now, shall we? So what I want you to do is, let your abs go super soft, take your fingers, bend over, and you wanna try to trace the underside of the rib cage. Exactly what I'm doing here on the skeleton. So the more soft, the more receptive you can be. Yeah, somebody's already gritting your teeth together.
Is this legal?
It's totally legal. We're gonna start doing illegal things in a few minutes. But right now this is totally legal. So I want you to keep your fingers there.
You guys see this in Indiana Jones where he ripped his heart out?
(laughs) It's so close to your heart, you just lift your sternum up and there's the heart. But actually your heart sits directly on top of the diaphragm, directly on top. It's tethered to it in connective tissue encasement. So what I want you to do is breathe into your belly so you take a swelling abdominal breathe and if you do that correctly, as the diaphragm contracts, it pushes down and it will push your fingers out. So as the diaphragm contracts, it pushes down and there's a bloating in the belly and that should kick your fingers out if you're able to access that abdominal breathing. The other type of breathing that we're gonna work on today is called thoracic breathing. And so if you stick your fingers underneath again, and instead of breathing downwards, I want you to balloon your ribs outwards and upwards and your fingers should actually stay in place. Yes, you're using your inner costals. And also you're probably using when you're doing that some neck muscles, scalenes, your stress muscles of respiration. We ultimately wanna turn off those. And we'll be doing that with yoga tune-up balls. So that we can really concentrate on awakening the muscles that help us to create our cobra position to help us to have the most impeccable spine and that we have control over it.
And let's expand that definition for a second. We're talking about the efficiency of the system.
So if I'm just an inefficient breather, it's very expensive. It can add upwards of I think, I've seen 10 or 15% of total energy expenditure just goes into breathing efficiency. So just take 10% of your calories for the day and throw them away on this bad breathing mechanics.
Eliminate bad breath, yeah. So, oops yeah, so here he is. Everybody drop your shoulders. Don't breath like this, don't breath like this devil. Clavicular breathing leads to abundant stress, and abundant stress also leads to clavicular breathing. So if you're a stressed out person, this is one of our defaults, right? Do you know anybody who's like this all the time? Yeah? Don't ever make them do push-ups. Ever. Until they can differentiate good breathing mechanics away from bad breathing mechanics. So keep your hand there. Just wanna show you two other relationships that are gonna be called into play here. Super important. So the diaphragm, the diaphragm doesn't just attach to the inside of the ribs and have little tails that cross into the spine, but it also has connective tissue attachments, fascial attachments to other neighboring tissues that it's constantly impacting. One of those is one that Kelly was talking about again and again and again. It starts on the front of your twelfth vertebrae, or sometimes it's higher or lower depending on your genetics. And it strings all the way down and attaches to this little knob on the inside of your femur. This is called the psoas. Yeah, can I have somebody else's fingers up here? Can you manage this? So you wanna pin there and there.
Now there's another muscle that is directly behind the psoas and a little bit further out to the side that is also at play here. And that is a muscle called the quadratus lumborum and tomorrow when we talk about fascia, we're actually gonna massage this particular out, it's gonna feel awesome. Hopefully y'all can see this illustration. Can you manage to get your thumb up on that twelfth rib and keep him pinned there and there? Alright, so this is gonna get a little bit gnarly. But the big idea here with these other tissue connections is that your diaphragm, as it's coming on the back side, I can flip back here to show you. As it's coming around, the back of the rib cage actually crosses across the quadratus lumborum and it crosses across the psoas before it attaches to the lumbar spine. And what this means is that if you have hip pain, or if you have tight hip flexors, do you think that it may be causing issues uptown or upstream in the respiratory diaphragm? If I have tight hip flexors and these things are connected, might that create some type of tork, or trigger points, or naughtiness, in my diaphragm? And, subsequently, those ribs that're attached to spinal bones? Or on the flip side, if I have poor breathing mechanics, if I just don't take deep breaths, might that also reflect into tensions in the hip flexors and the quadratus lumborum? If I have low back pain, more than likely I'm gonna have something problematic in my breathing. And I don't get a single client, Kelly, that comes to me for help, whether it's an elbow pain, a neck pain, or back pain, or knee pain, that doesn't have something wonky in the way that they breathe.
But I'll go further. I have never seen an athlete with back pain who doesn't also not know how to stabilize. The first thing I have to teach is, this is how you get stable, this is how you should associate this breathing, and that's where we start first.
And so we're gonna try to make those relationships visible, okay? And that's where we're heading.
Am I released?
Yes, you are all released. Released! Release the kraken! I'm actually release a kraken right now. I want you guys to see where we're going. Now we're not gonna actually get here, but take a look at my belly so that you can see really the full expression of cooperative breathing muscles and cooperative core muscles.
This is the only reason Jill's on. (laughter) (Jill breathes deeply)
Now can you do it on fire? (laughter) Awesome, so awesome.
Can I do it on fire? On coal, on broken glass, a bed of nails!
It's legit, it's legit.
I'm a yogini! (clapping) I can make that happen.
I'm not gonna lie, I've been working on this secretly. I will not show you now though, but Jill is like, oh yeah you ain't got game and I'm like (demonstrates movements).
You can't talk and do it a the same time, Kel. That's illegal, that's a fault.
Workin' on it, workin' on it.
So the first thing that we're gonna do is we're gonna turn off those stress muscles of respiration. So these are the default muscles when we're freaking out. Where is that picture?
And remember gang, what do we start with first? The spine. Look what's right in the middle of the spinal system. This big, powerful muscle, this diaphragm. This is the skirt steak if we're gonna stay on this meat human model. And what's really happening is you cannot get organized if you're dysfunctional, or don't have a schema. If you're in a bad position, you'll never reclaim your breathing, your breathing efficiency. If we start to do that, now we can start uncovering what some of these other truths are. Start with the spine first. This alone adds immense output in performance and just how you feel throughout the day.
Absolutely. Alright, so we're gonna get down and roll. So y'all have a pair of the yoga tune-up balls. I'm not sure where mine went. Oh, here they are. So y'all have a pair of the yoga tune-up balls. Do me a favor, go ahead and lay down on the yoga mats. Bring the tote with you.
Jill, could you just, for everyone at home, could you talk about the yoga tune-up balls?
Yes, so these are much softer than a lacrosse ball. These are grippy and pliable. And you can see, mine are well-used and loved. They have a ton of grip. And what this does, is it creates a tremendous amount of sheer, and that helps to facilitate awakening of proprioceptors, it also helps to tamp down the pain response. We're gonna get to that a little bit tomorrow, a lot a bit tomorrow, when we talk about fascia. But these are very pliable, and what's important about that pliability is that, when you hit bony prominences, it doesn't push back and create skin bruising. Now lacrosse balls are a really inexpensive tool. These are a much more refined tool. So that when you get into delicate spaces like on the front of your body, not your abdomen, but the front of the chest. Sternal placement, around the shoulder. Fine corners, even your face. You'll be able to not get bruised and also to get a tremendous depth of pressure combined with the sheer. And you can feel, you all have, well you have the netting around. The netting actually allows the balls to grab through. When you first get them, they have a little bit of oil just like a mat has oil, but this will come off really quickly and they'll become more pliable.
And would you say that the idea that this ball is ubiquitous and it's everywhere and it starts the conversation. But it's too small and too hard and too square and too large and what we advocate for, is ultimately they're gonna have the right tool for the right job.
The right tool for the right job. And you wanna have options. And so this is a tender piece. We're going right into your breathing muscles and we wanna have something that can withstand that archeological dig, yeah? And we're gonna dig with some other tools also. So go ahead and lay on your back. This position is called, this is the only Sanskrit that I'm gonna say, arta shavasana, or half corpse pose. So you lay down on your back, palms face the sky, eyes closed, have your knees bent. And you can let go of the balls right now. I promise we'll grab ahold of 'em in a moment. But you wanna recline yourself. And as soon as you recline, go ahead and close your eyes, turn the lights out. And revolve your awareness inside. Now immediately when you recline, your body sucks up sedation. That's just one of the benefits of laying down. So we already have a doorway of entering in to quiescence And this is gonna help us to better be able to see the invisible within ourselves. Watch your body breathe. There's no need to fix your breathing, there's no need to manage your breathing, I just want you to watch the way your body is currently breathing. More than likely, breath is moving in. When it moves in, and it moves out. When it moves out. Now just even becoming aware of your breath, it's like talking about the elephant in the room. Sometimes you're like, oh I'm aware of my breathing and now I can't just let it happen. I want you to let it happen and watch it happen. I'm a student of my breath. I'm a student of my breath. I study my breath like a breath tracker. Someone who tracks paw prints in the woods, you are tracking your breath prints as you are experiencing them. Let's have a little body review of abdominal breathing. Bring your attention to your gut area. You don't need to put your hands on your gut. But I want you to breathe in a way that balloons the belly on inhale. That balloons out on all directions. And then on exhale, you just let the diaphragm go home. You let it rest. It'll push air out, you don't need to even make that happen. And again, an abdominal breath, you help you assist that ballooning, and then on exhale you allow it to fly back up, to go into a relaxed state. And one more time again. Inhaling, the belly swells. And then on exhale, you let it go. Now by the way, the abdominal breath is the most sedating style of breathing known to the body, it will help you cool down really quickly. Go ahead and keep your eyes closed. When we use the yoga tune-up therapy balls, often you are gonna find your pain. You're gonna find your blind spot, and it can be very uncomfortable. Your abdominal breath is your safe word. If you cannot take a full abdominal breath, you're in too deep and you need to move the ball a little bit further downtown, a little bit further uptown, or off the spot that you're on. Or if it's really uncomfortable, you can always go to a wall. Now let's try one more breathing pattern before we start to use the balls. I want you to do a thoracic breath. And to do a thoracic breath, you have to create some amount of tension in your abdomen and then try to create that same ballooning in the bony tissue canister above the diaphragm. So attempt to move the ribs apart and then allow them to fall in. So here the diaphragm isn't really moving too much but the inner costals are taking over, they're moving your ribs open and they're moving them shut. On inhale, you spread the ribs, and then you allow them to deflate. Alright, good. So that's just a little barometer of our breathing. So now go ahead and open your eyes. We're still a student of our breath, we're still conscious through this process. Un-tote the balls. And I want you to place the yoga tune-up balls right where this poor guy is using too much tension to create a breath. The balls are gonna go right where you want somebody to massage you. The upper trapezius, where it overlays elevator scapula. These posterior shrugger muscles. So you'll place the balls where you'd have your backpack straps, yeah? Place them there, one on either side. And then lift your pelvis off the floor, keep your head on the ground. Lift your pelvis off the floor and immediately you are gonna feel the tenderness in those tissues. In fact, the trapezius is actually a very tough meat altogether. Yeah, the connective tissue within the trapezius is an extra tight configuration. Go ahead and lift your pelvis up if you can. And that is just the way you're designed. I mean, your trapezius is one of the muscles that helps to keep your head up right and if you were using your muscular energy all the time to keep your head up right, it would cost you even more. And we know that most people are leaning their heads forwards and it's already costing them a lot, but these tissues, if you were gonna cook your trapezius, you would wanna cook it on a very, very slow braise. Very, very, for a long time, to let--
To let the fascias and the collagen decinegrate It's not your psoas this is not a filet mignon type of tissue. Alright, bring your arms up to the sky. Directly above you. And as soon as you change, oh I found some blind spots! Right up to (laughs) to the ceiling. And I mean that, I'm with you my friends. I'm sort of breathing with you here. But you're holding your breath. If you can't take a deep breath, you may need to come down a little bit further. Alright. So you wanna let your body soften around the contours of the balls. And you don't need to use a lot of effort to keep your arms up, just a light, like you're underwater. And then as if you are underwater, hi there.
Hello. I know, it's tender. So use less force to keep your arms up. As if you are underwater, begin to move your arms like seaweed, and let your torso move from side to side. Your balls are a little bit too low, miss. You've never heard someone say that to you before, I bet. (laughter)
Hey, I just wanna go on record saying I did not make the first ball joke. (laughter)
Alright, so the idea here is for you to actually take the balls on a tour of this upper trapezious skirt. And the discomfort in here is directly proportional to the fact that there is tension there. Yes? So the more resistance we have to stretch, I know, it's, are you okay? Okay. A lot of you are not breathing in or out, for some reason. (laughter) Alright, come on down.
It's so weird. It does take your breath away, yes? When you start to contact your own pain, it's really discomfortable. But the balls are actually helping to eradicate that while you're locating it. Alright, now take the yoga tune-up balls and place them together, just below the nape of your neck. Just below the nape of your neck. And pin them together.
It's weird, but if I don't feel any pain, is that normal?
Tissues that are healthy don't have kick-back.
So when you poke healthy tissue, it doesn't shout back at you. It's just that simple.
So you're saying that pain in this way let's me know that maybe I'm disnormal.
So the balls are finding where pain already exists in your body. What we're doing is not painful, it's just showing you where pain is sitting, lying in wait, and we're just running over it like a speed bump and bringing it to light. So that you can do something about it. We're actually doing something about it while we're illuminating it. So, next thing, interlace your hands behind your head. Pull your chin down to your chest and lift your tush up a few inches off the ground. Figure out what is approximately two to three inches on your own body, and I want you to track the balls down about two to three inches, and then roll right back up those two to three inches. If you're having a hard time getting a roll, you can do a little spulunking action. Anybody spulunking here? Any rock climbers? No? You're in between two faces of a rock, you get it, you get what I'm talking about. Yes, I'm trying to entice you with humor because I know how uncomfortable this can be if you're not used to unbuckling this horrible zipper of tension you have in the back of your respiratory muscles. Alright, so up and down a few inches. You're doing great.
Might this area also get tight for people who are constantly wearing a strap on their shoulder? Or a heavy--
Heavy camera bag.
Yes, absolutely. Or, just holding a camera in a weird position all day. Yeah, or sitting in front of your computer with your head hanging forward all day. Or holding a little tiny computer mouse that seems like it's just a little mouse.
No, it weighs a million pounds.
Weighs a million pounds. The cost is very expensive. Alright, then what I'd like you to do is figure out, figure out how to land the balls so that they're about, now this is about locating tissues, they're about at that third-ish, fourth-ish vertebrae. So they're not way down here where your bra strap would be, they're not right in the middle of your shoulder blades, they're a little bit higher up, then bring your head to the ground. Bring your head to the ground. And your tush to the ground. Bring your arms out to the side, palms facing up. And we're gonna trace some snow angels. On inhale, your arms stay on the ground. And you'll abduct, or go through a range of snow angel abduction all the way out to the side till the thumbs potentially tough each other. And on exhale, you come right back down. So we're attempting to keep the arms on the ground. Some of you this may not be an okay range for you, so you can actually bend your elbows and make little chicken snow angels. Little chicken snow angels.
For the geeks at home, are we maybe working on posterior sirius?
Oh yes, indeed we are. And we're also at the same time getting a little bit of change in length of the peck, peck minor. If that's important to you, which I hope it is. At some point in your life, if you wanna free up your breathing muscles and find a better position. Alright, so going through that range, yes. And being super sensitive, I see you guys are totally inside your bodies right now, which is really good. This is also a chance for me to see a shoulder rhythm right now. And I can see the relationship of your back muscles to your arms and I see a lot of different shoulders from side to side on some of you. Alright, discontinue that. Grab ahold of your head, pull your chin to your chest, lift your tush up, and let's go down two more inches. So you have to figure out where two inches is so we're not quite at the bra strap, but we're down towards the bottom of the shoulder blades. That's excellent. And then bring your head to the ground. And one of the things you're gonna notice right away is oh my God, I'm so glad I'm not in that other position. And then you realize oh, but I'm in this position now. (laugher) Right, because every single one of your vertebrae, every single one of your vertebrae lets your brain out into your body, doesn't it? Your spinal column is a house for the brain's tail. And every one of your vertebrae has outlets for your brain to get into your body and for your sensory mechanism to get back up and in. So we wanna make sure that neurologically you have enough available movement where you are getting motion between individual vertebral units so you can make better choices but also so that your brain can function better into the body and from the body back to the brain. Bring your arms up to the sky. We're gonna do some thoracic breathing here. So straight up to the sky. Imagine I'm a puppeteer and I'm on the ceiling. On inhale, I pull your arms up towards the ceiling and your shoulder blades separate, they protract. I let go on exhale, and your shoulder blades retract. I want you to pinch the shoulder blades against the balls like you're cracking a walnut. On inhale, the arms come up. Hey Chris, yes. Relax your facial muscles if you can. And on exhale, squeeze your shoulder blades together and crack those walnuts. Crack the balls. Uh-huh, inhaling, sliding the shoulder blades apart. And on exhale, squeezing the shoulder blades together. We'll just do two more like that. Your balls are too high, sir. So you've gotta move your body this way more. That's right, Eric (laughs). Okay, no jokes. It's just pure ball bliss. And then wrap your arms around yourself. And hold on. To your scapula. Yeah, give yourself a hug. Give yourself a hug. Can you find the edges of your shoulder blades? They feel like little bony triangles back there. Uh-huh, and can you bring your balls a little bit lower? So squirm your body this way, yes. I want you to breathe into your back as if you're trying to flatten the balls. Keep doing that, and then begin to squirm from side to side like you're having a fake make-out session with yourself. So you take the balls from scapula to scapula and you try to grind the balls into a pulp. And thereby helping to move through these erectors. Move through some of the more refined back muscles, intercostals. Yes, ma'am.
My lower back (mumbles).
It's going to be, there's no, yeah. So it's passive right now, but actually in our next position we're gonna change that.
Jill, could you repeat the questions just because they don't have the mics on them?
Oh yeah. So she asked, CJ asked if her lower back was supposed to be arched. It is being passively arched. So I'm not actually trying to fix your position right now. We're going vertebrae by vertebrae, trying to help to create motion and free up tension between these segments. Alright, last position. Bring the balls down to what we can call the bra strap area, if you don't wear a bra strap it's where the lady's wear their bra strap.
A bro strap.
The bro strap. Right below the scapula. Alright, and then bring your arms down by your sides. And what I'm gonna do now is just work on a breathing pattern. We're gonna work on a breathing pattern. We'll work on the thoracic breathing pattern. I call this the resuscitate breath. Breathe in a way that explodes your ribs open. As big as they can possibly become. On exhale, re-cage your ribs. You wanna squeeze them in towards each other. Maintain that tension, then find your pubic bone and draw it towards your rib cage. Create tension, tension, tension. Get even more breath out. Make an S sound, get more air out without tightening your face. When you cannot get anymore of that S sound out, let go and let air flush in to your body. Then let your body exhale again. And we'll do that again. Inhale, spread the ribs apart. Big, big ribs spread. On exhale, cage them. Tighten them. Pull the ribs towards the pubic bone, and the pubic bone towards the ribs. Make an S sound, S, S, S. Let me hear the S (makes s hissing sound). Blow out all the candles on the birthday cake. When you can no longer exhale, let go and let air rush in involuntarily. And then let your body exhale again and we'll do one more round of that. I'm gonna put this underneath your head, Henry. Okay, good. Last time, inhale, ribs spread, big breath. Exhale, compress, squeeze the breath out. Create tension, tension, tension. Pubic bones towards the ribs, make the S sound, get rid of that residual volume, get rid of it, get rid of it, get rid of it. Then let go, let air flush in. And let it passively escape. Take the balls out, do not sit up. Take the balls out, do not sit up. Notice the significant change in your upper back. Just having become even more, yes, big smiles. Are you guys noticing warmth? Are you actually noticing the vertebrae in contact with the floor? That's how your thoracic spine should be, it actually should rest against the floor, it has an outward curve. What about breathing? If I told you to take a rib cage breath now, a thoracic breath, how's your access? You feel it expanding like a giant bony circle? Half of your breathing muscles are in the back of your body. But if you have physical tension, if you have emotional tension, if you have structural tension that's inhibiting you from occupying that, you're cutting yourself off from your potential. You just freed that up for yourself in just a few minutes. So let's now inhabit and find a way to get into our diaphragm. So we have these sponge balls here. And we have one for each of you. Whoops, sorry. And I want you to place this on your belly button, flip over, and lay face down.
I'm just gonna go ahead and apologize on behalf of Jill right now, because this is horrible and awesome. (laughter)
So if you thought that was uncomfortable, we're gonna really find, we're gonna find where you've been hiding from yourself. Need, need? Alright, so your belly button folks. Lay on face down, put the ball, and you can actually have your heads facing into the middle of the room. So I'm just gonna flip back and have the--
Remember when Mel Gibson's like, Noooo, relax a little bit with this in back. Just to set the stage for this. (laughter)
So, I mean, right away you're gonna feel, again, your resistance to the stretch in your abdomen. There's gonna be some kick back. Oh my goodness.
And it's gonna be discomfortable. So there is a way that we can actually tamp down some of the discomfort here. And that is a technique that I'm sure Kelly's gonna share more about, it's called contract relax. And what I want you to do is, take a huge breath into the gut, hold the breath, and then create tension in those layers, create tension. In yoga tune-up we call this the tubular core. So we're creating a sense of bracing right now, but there's air in there. And then exhale, let go. And that should right away change the sensation. Do you guys notice that? So let's play around with that tubular core concept. Inhale, hold the breath, create tension. Not with your facial muscles, and not with the muscles we just rolled out. So I want you to actually use the layers of core muscles to do that. Not this and not that. And exhale, let go. We call this receptive core. It's a pliant tissues.
We should talk about, this is a technique, is that Jill came, had her mobility wad, we're talking about the diaphragm, she said look, I'm seeing this among top athletes is that we're working on getting stiff and stable all the time, maintaining these basic postures under sustained loads, and we're seeing a lot of dysfunction. And we also start talking about the way we can get in for anyone who had a history of back pain, have any abdominal surgery, carried a baby, scar tissue, endometriosis, the scarring of the belly, anything like that this is our first step. So if anyone, literally we are now pressing on the muscles directly on the back, we're influencing the capacities to stabilize and create stiffness around the spine, and we're freeing up the mechanisms of the diaphragm. All within this simple concept. This is a simple ball, and this is my first step now. Jill brought this to mobility wad, and people are like hey, I'm having this problem. I'm like, well did you smash your gut yet? We'll talk after.
And the inflated balls are a really safe tool to use in the gut area. The lacrosse balls or even the smaller yoga tune-up balls, it's too hard. So this grabs great planes of tissue. In fact, lets grab great planes of tissue and move from side to side. So think about the six pack, which is actually a 10 or 12 pack, depending on your genetics. Or sometimes it's a four pack. I've dissected bodies before that actually only had four segments, I was shocked. Two on the right and two on the left.
I knew it. That's why.
Yeah, not everybody can get a six pack. And that's why. So don't try to keep doing that and rip yourself to shreds. In fact, this is a process to help put you back together. A lot of people, their approach to doing abdominal work is to tear themselves to pieces. And I'm not a big fan of that, I want you to be an integrated whole. But we also have to find out where there are holes in your respiratory mechanism, and this is one way for us to do that.
And one of the things that we talked about, is if you're sitting all day long. Some of the questions are coming through the channels are, hey I have to sit, what do I do? We'll talk about kind of getting braced this afternoon, but remember we talked about the natural tension required just to hold your torso up. And that's background tension and muscles that shouldn't be necessarily tonic are in a constant on-state. Imagine if I said okay, let's make a bicep, and we're just gonna hold loose tension in that bicep for eight hours. Your bicep would be cooked and fibrotic and stiff and this is what happens when we sit up. Just to hold ourselves upright, all of this abdominal musculature is engaging, and no wonder it becomes dysfunctional.
We do. Question for you Jill is, somebody in the chatroom is pregnant and is wondering if this is something that a pregnant woman should do, and then more generally are there people who should or shouldn't be sort of doing some of these things? And then also we have about 10 minutes left.
Because each pregnancy is so specific, you always want to make sure that you're talking directly to your provider. My first pregnancy, I asked my doctor if I could roll on this, if I could do nauli kriya, and she said as long as you can keep doing it, do it. She was a big proponent of that. So that's the information that I have from that, from a direct experience.
And it was the same on the last one, too, I think is actually when they came in when they were on the other side.
And I want to speak clear about a couple things. One, we'll be clear about the rules of mobility tomorrow. If it feels sketchy, and it's not I feel like I'm gonna vomit sketchy, because this is how this feels a little bit. It feels sketchy, it's sketchy. And they're always right. And we'll always default to that. Try a different position, reset. But I will tell you, it is your job to take this on. And to ignore it is just as dysfunctional. Picking up your kids, sitting all day long, these things in bad positions with bad mechanics are dangerous for you. We're asking you to step up, put your hand in the box, and make a better decision because honestly, until you take on the mantle of responsibility for addressing some of these things, you're not gonna be a complete, full potential human. And, we're giving you techniques that are very safe.
And all of these ball techniques, all of these self-massage techniques are literally you taking the temperature on your pain. I mean, you probably didn't know how miserable it was in here, until you placed the ball there. And I don't mean that to be mean or bully-ish with you all, but people are not taking care of their core tissues in a holistic way. They literally are tearing themselves to pieces and making crispy abdominal muscles that don't move. So there's no way, and not that we're gonna get here today, there's no way you'd be able to isolate an undulating way where all the tissues are cooperating. And that's what we want to be able to do in our squats too, we want to have all the tissues cooperating at once. This is no different than that. It's just a place that most of us don't go.
And if we even took a step back and we looked at just the efficiency, we know that stiff musculature doesn't contract very well. It's very inefficient. The layers of your abdominal, your external obliques, your internal obliques, this big tranverse abdominus, rectus femoris, all of these kinda, or rectus abdominus, all of these tissues, right, sometimes just become it here together. How many of you guys have ever done sit-ups and it made your abs sore? Did you stretch or mobilize your abs, or did you just wait for the soreness to go away? Can you imagine doing the same thing with your quads over and over and over again, where you just made yourself brutally sore and didn't do anything about it? Well we've been acreeding and aggregating a lifetime of abdominal stiffness and tissue. And these tissues that should be supple, like layers of silk, and they are just, there's a grilled cheese.
Yeah, and then if you have a scar in there, if you've had a cut in there, it makes it even more difficult. But this is your method for helping to deal with that scar tissue. So, are you guys practicing tubular core, receptive core while you're on here? You're inhaling, holding tension, exhaling, letting go. So that's the trick to be able to get deeper and deeper. Now I want you to flip over onto your backs because I want to help you to actually isolate your diaphragm. So, roll over onto your back and I still have this image of the underside of the diaphragm to inspire us because this is exactly where we are going. And you can move that sponge ball out of the way. So we're gonna try this in two different ways. Go ahead and bend your knees, put the soles of your feet on the floor as we did before. And I'm gonna refresh your memory about the abdominal breath and the thoracic breath. Henry, I just want to put this block underneath your head. This is going to help your thoracic spine and your cervical spine have a better time with this. So you wanna breathe, the belly swells to about 60% of your breath capacity, and then finish the breath by pulling it up into the rib cage, spread the ribs out, and then let yourself exhale. So this is called the abdominal thoracic breath, or also the yoga complete breath. Inhale, belly swells. Then ribs and lungs swell. And on exhale let it go. Let it passively exhale. And let's try that one more time. Inhale, belly swells. Then ribs and lungs swell. And let it go. Alright, now I'm gonna change something up on you. It's gonna start the same. Inhale, belly swells, ribs and lungs swell. Now actively exhale everything. Get rid of it just like the resuscitate breath, get rid of it, get rid of it, get rid of it 'till you're absolutely empty. Do not breathe in. Turn your tissues off, let them go slack. Now spread your ribs as if you had taken a rib cage breath. Spread your rib cage as if you had taken a thoracic breath. If you're doing this correctly, you're gonna feel this very strange pit in your gut as your diaphragm stretches towards the ribs. Alright, let go of that I know I just threw all of that on you. Let's try to add that up again. Complete breath, inhale, belly swells. Ribs and lungs swell. Exhale, get rid of it. Get rid of it, get rid of it, get rid of it. Use tension, cobra size that spine. At the end of the exhale, let your tissues go slack. Spread the ribs as if you were taking a thoracic breath. You're gonna feel a strange, plunger-like suction. This is exactly right. This is like, I could crawl in here with my cat and we could fall asleep. Steve, that's amazing. Let that go. Let's try that one more time. Inhale, belly swells.
Did you say you could crawl in there with a cat? (laughter)
Yes. I'm very small and I have a small, imaginary cat. Alright, so you breath, belly swells, ribs and lungs swell. Exhale, get rid of it, empty, empty, empty. Empty, empty, empty. And then let it go, turn on that receptive core, spread your ribs. And you'll feel that very strange suction, or not, if you're not able to differentiate yet. Okay, and let it go. Yes, you're feeling it Chris. So the key here, this is called by the way in yoga speak, this is called uddiyana bandha and I promised I wasn't gonna speak anymore Sanskrit, but uddiyana bandha. We can call this, for lack of a better term, the extreme diaphragm stretch. Or let's call it the extreme diaphragm vacuum. Diaphragm vacuum. So when you do the vacuum, the only way to get deep stretch in that diaphragm is to let go of the tissues that it's tethering to in your core layers. Meaning the tranverse abdominus and the obliques. If you're tight down here, your diaphragm ain't gonna move. So you have to be able to let this entire soft tissue canister go slack. Turn on the muscles that move the ribs out, which are the external intercostals, and then all of a sudden you're able to create slide and glide inside your gut layer. So let's do this in one more, in a slightly different way, which is this is called the bridge lifts with the diaphragm vacuum. And this is, I'm actually including this in the PDF as the detailed instructions for this particular exercise. So the only difference is that now you're gonna bridge your tush up and bring your arms overhead. So just take a quick look at me, folks so that you can see. I'm gonna go through the entire exercise, and then I'll let you all do it. It's like my cat scratched on the floor and left some remnants. (exhales deeply) (inhales and exhales deeply) It's super soft when I'm doing it. I'm not making tension. So the difference between at will turn on total tension, that cobra tension that he talks about that I call the tubular core versus total pliability, total receptivity. Can we give that a try and I'll talk you through it?
And I wanna frame this for the athletes out there watching, because sometimes as we get into things that verge into yoga land, right? Which is, remember, smart people trying to solve a set of problems that they saw in front of them. People who've been breathing inefficiently for a long time, they start skill transfer exercises. It's no different than working on my jerk, specific movement skills. Practicing a certain movement in volleyball so that I can put it together. These are techniques that look at the breathing efficiency, breathing mechanics, and it's not something that you have to do everyday, but it's one of those things that we'll talk about when this is appropriate, but looking at this appropriately in the athletic spectrum fits right in hey, I'm looking at breathing efficiency, breathing mechanic efficiency, and that's how this fits into a schema performance.
What this exercise does is it gives you the ability to look at your breathing in a petri dish. So you're literally being able to isolate it at it's almost molecular level, right? The deepest, most refined level. All the tension that you've built, layers and layers and layers on top of it, are hiding the lining of your birthday suit from yourself.
And this is what's been so remarkable of the work with Jill, is that for a long time this information, these techniques have been out there. Jill gives us tools to improve the mechanics, which is exactly what we're doing, and then where we've fallen off is that we haven't been able to connect the dots into athletic performance and movement. We're like, oh I'll do that and then I haven't been able to sort of go on. So when we start looking at breathing mechanics and efficiency with our athletes, suddenly we can connect the dots between this embodied knowledge, the technique and efficiency of mechanics, and now we can start having a conversation about life quality, which is really about connecting the dots.
So earlier, when me and my ankle and flexibility, when you're breathing and it collapses so far--
It's pretty much the same thing where you'd be moving towards greater --
So the abdominals for me are just tight, so they don't collapse and remain loose.
Exactly, that stiffness. So, he's asking, is the stiffness in my ankle akin to the stiffness in my core layers? Is my inability to get that length in my abdominals that you saw on my own body akin to that, and yes it is. Because there's stiffness throughout your connective tissues it's not just local, it's global. And so we wanna make sure that we're cultivating slip and slide at a cellular level, and tomorrow when we get to the fascia piece, we're gonna talk more about really what that means. Is that, yeah? That makes sense?
Jill, let's go through this real quick because I know we gotta get some people to lunch. So let's do this real quick and then we'll do this, okay? Here we go.
Okay, on your backs. Thanks Kel. So we're gonna go through this just a few times so that you get the rhythm of it. Bring your arms down by your sides. And actually we're doing abdominal thoracic clavicular breath now. On inhale, pick your pelvis up, lift your spine off the floor, raise your arms all the way up overhead till the backs of your arms touch the floor. Now exhale aggressively. Get rid of the breath, get rid of all of it. When you can no longer exhale, let your core tissues go slack, turn them off. Do not breathe in. Lower your spine, and allow that dome shape to occur. So you'll feel that deep suction and you'll feel that your abdomen is as soft as a petting zoo. Put your pelvis down, reset your arms, let's try that again. Are you okay?
Welcome to the world, son.
So that's that connection with the psoas. So if the psoas, that psoas diaphragm doesn't have slide and glide, sometimes the diaphragm starts to stretch, the psoas is like wait a minute, let me hold on! And it tightens and so, right, so you've actually just found that connection. Which is awesome. Unfortunately, it's uncomfortable right now, but with practice it will become more pliant. Let's try this one more time. Bring your arms up overhead as you inhale, breathe belly, rib cage, top of rib cage, exhale everything. Empty, empty, empty, beyond empty. Once you've totally exhaled, let your tissues go slack, don't breathe in, lower your pelvis, slowly. Uh-huh, let this go soft, just like when you had the ball in there, very good. Once the pelvis goes down, soften your face. Did it do a little spasm again? And then reset your arms. Good. So and then the next step for this, for you, would be to go back onto that ball.
When I was on the ball, I felt it.
You felt it there, too. Okay, yeah.
So real quick, let me tie this all together. We put your arms over your head earlier, right? Well stand up and re-test. So what we've done, is we've changed breathing mechanics, soft tissues of the back. Does that change our overhead position? Yes no. So, get organized, there we go. Put your arms straight up over your head. Keep this down. Is this better or worse for you guys? I'll give you hint: we have instant replay? That's way better. (laughter) And what you're seeing is, if he has this stiff band through here, he's not gonna have full excursion of the tissues. Your job of a human being is have full capacity of all the things you can do as a human being. And that means all of your surfaces need to slide and all your mechanisms need to work. Ladies and gentlemen, Jill Miller. (clapping)