When I was an 18-year-old yogini, I was also an active bulimic. I was in college studying dance, training to be a shiatsu therapist (Japanese pressure point massage), making sandwiches and slicing salami at Jimmy John’s Deli, racing around Chicago learning yoga, and using food to self-medicate.

During that time, I remember never feeling connected to my core, my abdominal muscles. My Pilates teacher was always giving me corrections that I could not embody. In dance class, I was never able to find balance in my turns or jumps, and I would often duck out of class in frustration. Then I would become even angrier with myself because I was a quitter! This would inevitably lead to a binge and purge.

Getting in touch with my core through touch

One day, I confessed to my yoga teacher that I was bulimic and that I had a hard time feeling my abdominal muscles. She handed me a bean bag shaped like a large hamburger bun and told me to place it on my abdomen, lay on top of it and breathe into my belly. It was agony. I had so much tension, discomfort and bizarre pain. And then it came — the grief. That bean bag tapped into a mother lode of suppressed rage and sorrow that I’d been storing in my gut for years.

Back in my dorm room, I rolled up a towel into the shape of the hamburger bun and began laying on it every day, moving the towel from tender spot to tender spot on my core until I no longer felt pain or resistance. It worked! And so did I. I made progress in my healing, found a therapist and began treating my body with respect — which resulted in other people respecting me more, too. I soon fell in love for the first time in my life, and my bulimia completely evaporated by the time I was 20.

Have a ball reshaping your core

Twenty years later, I have innovated on the old “towel burger” prop and now use a kinder and gentler squishy air-filled ball called the Coregeous® Ball. I can tell you from experience, this process of self-abdominal massage is not just an excellent self-treatment for emotional wounds, but also helps with scar tissue from abdominal surgeries.

According to my colleague, Kelly Starrett, DPT, this process “should be a first stop for anyone with back pain, post-abdominal surgery, post-partum depression, etc.”

In this video, Kelly and I discuss how the layers of the abdomen can become adhered, full of tension, and ultimately unresponsive to physical training. That is exactly what had happened to me in my early yogini/dancer/bulimic days. Using the bean bag/towel/squishy ball has freed up all of the internal tensions, and I now have the suppleness and fluidity to do crazy stuff with my core, like the lateral abdominal churning move called nauli kriya (pictured below).

No special effects here: This is lateral abdominal churning, aka: nauli kriya

Uncork your core, free your mind

If you have been living with physical or emotional scars in your core, tenderly dig into its layers and listen to your body talk. You will be one step further on the road to recovering the vitality of these tissues and experiencing the benefits of abdominal massage. My newest DVD, Coregeous, details embodied exercises (includingnauli kriya) to help you reinhabit the layers of your core and redefine your abdominals from the inside out.

If your self-image has become dependent on the size and shape of your abdomen, it is time to do something about it. I encourage you to step away from media that promises a quick fix from the outside in. What this calls for is an inside-out approach to help you refine your relationship with yourself and the layers of your body in a compassionate, respectful and honorable way. There is a way out, but it requires your willingness to want to change, remain consistent and believe that the world has a loving place for you. You are wanted, you are loved.

With love,


Check out Coregeous to strengthern your core.

Learn about Yoga Tune Up at home.

Find a Yoga Tune Up class or workshop near you.

[Reprinted with permission from GaiamLife]

Jill Miller

Jill Miller, C-IAYT, ERYT is the co-founder of Tune Up Fitness Worldwide and creator of the self-care fitness formats Yoga Tune Up® and The Roll Model® Method. With more than 30 years of study in anatomy and movement, she is a pioneer in forging relevant links between the worlds of fitness, yoga, massage, athletics and pain management. She is known as the Teacher’s Teacher and has trained thousands of movement educators, clinicians, and manual therapists to incorporate her paradigm shifting self-care fitness programming into athletic and medical facility programs internationally. She has crafted original programs for 24 Hour Fitness, Equinox, YogaWorks, and numerous professional sports teams. She and her team of 500+ trainers help you to live better in your body with an emphasis on proprioception, mobility, breath mechanics and recovery. She has presented case studies at the Fascia Research Congress and International Association of Yoga Therapy conferences. She has the rare ability to translate complex physiological and biomechanical information into accessible, relevant moves that help her students transform pain, dysfunction and injury into robust fitness. Jill is the anatomy columnist for Yoga Journal Magazine and has been featured in Shape, Men’s Journal, Good Housekeeping, Women’s Health, Yoga Journal, Self, and on the Today Show and Good Morning America. Jill is regularly featured on the Oprah Winfrey Network. She is the creator of dozens of DVD’s including Treat While You Train with Kelly Starrett DPT and is the author of the internationally bestselling book The Roll Model: A Step by Step Guide to Erase Pain, Improve Mobility and Live Better in your Body. Based in Los Angeles, CA, she is a wife and mother of two small children and is currently writing her second book.

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Jenn A

A wonderful article for me to stumble upon on the last day, Day 7 of the Yoga Tune Up teacher training with Casey Easton in Carleton Place, Ontario. My “core” has been my nemesis forever, easily over 25 years, and add multiple injuries to spine, limbs, and skull, not to mention so much trauma and abuse, I needed to find this article to wrap up my digital day. Even though it is the last day of the in-person training, it is the beginning of a whole new chapter in my life. It is so empowering to Embody your body. I… Read more »

Elsa Moreau

So many emotions arise touching my belly. It’s always surprising.


Thanks for adding context to the coreageous ball. I love how it came from a towel burger. As a yogini, it seems easier to stomach than nauli kriya too 🙂

Glenda Jordan

I found your site via a search for “back pain when I cross my legs,” and somehow I found this page. When I read this, I knew IMMEDIATELY I needed the Coregeous exercises and ball. So much stress and hatred focused in my poor, sore belly and absolutely no core strength. I cannot wait for the video and ball to arrive. Thank you.

Karin Steinbach

What an interesting article. I had heard of storing emotion in the hips, but not in the abdomen. I am glad you discovered your path to wellness and continue to find strength in the knowledge that you are helping others!

Rachel Taylor

This makes me think about how disconnected our culture tends to be from the core– the real core, from inside out as you phrase it. We are so bombarded with messages about the outward appearance of the superficial abdominal muscles and reasons to either feel shitty about or embrace or change that appearance. And at the same time, we’re so disconnected from the inside, the real core– for instance, I know so few women who can feel when they are ovulating, or western medicine is just barely starting to skim the surface of understanding and appreciating the microbiome. Thank you… Read more »


Wow. I am in aw of the honesty, integrity, compassion, and scope of your work. Thank you Jill for all you have done to bring forth this work that so powerfully effects and heals so many people from all walks of life and experience, all from the inside out. Amazing! I can’t wait to learn and share more. Thank you, thank you!

Carole Giuliani (Thyret)

I am really happy I read this article today. It really resonated with me. Having gone through Thyroid issues and menopause over the last few years, my self image has really struggled and I think I have been trying to find a quick fix, and it doesn’t work, will try to start fixing from the inside out.

Katelynn Corman

I can relate to this article on a very deep level, coming from a professional dance background constantly worrying about my size and my weight (I no longer own a scale). Then I finally got up enough courage to put that ball where I thought it didn’t belong….My belly. My first experience was quite similar…painful, challenging, and heavy. But my curiosity also took a step forward, and my patience, and love for my body – all of my body. So I recognize that I have a long way to go, but I’m excited about the journey. Thank you.


After my Histerectomy surgery I discovered the powerful of abdominal massage for help me to erase the scars tissues and for release the physical tensions.
My whole life I have suffered from fairly significant irritable bowel, and much tension in my belly and organs. I know I will need a lot of work for to feel a new body for a new life ….but this is my new journey. thanks


I recently have discovered the powers of abdominal massage. My whole life I have suffered from fairly significant irritable bowel, a lot of which has to do with anxiety, and I had no idea that I could store so much tension in my belly and organs. I have now had various practitioners work on my belly and it is always extremely intense and usually painful. I think I store a lot of built up physical and emotional tension in my belly due to years of stomach discomfort. I recently got a Coregeous ball and have only used it a couple… Read more »


I have been so excited to use the coregeous ball for GI tract work. I was not prepared for the profound effect it would have in unwinding self hurts I thought had been processed. I am not sure I am yet prepared, but the work has begun. Such a common theme with patients and students of all backgrounds, I look forward to being able to share the work with them.


The stomach in my opinion is such a powerful area to be treated. I find it very effective to release my diaphragm and psoas area. Being able to self massage in these area allows me to decide how much pressure and input I need. Thanks for sharing Jill Miller.


Thanks Jill for sharing your journey to healing. Such an empowering message about self-image especially in a society where we are constantly bombarded on how we should look. I appreciate how the YTU coregeous ball has an ‘inside-out’ approach to help us find and rebuild a healthier relationship within ourselves. Thanks again jill.

Kayla Lee

I too struggle with disordered eating and feel like connecting to my core is like making a long distance call to China. I recently purchased a courageous ball and look forward to slowly re-connecting and making friends with my abdomen.


Though I have been using the therapy balls for well over a year, I didn’t really ‘get’ the Coregeous ball until a few months ago during a YTU training. For me, it was a pretty useful prop to use with the other therapy balls, but it has moved to a nearly daily ‘smash my belly’ activity on its own. I anticipate I will continue to receive even more benefits from its use – for now I’m just happy to have started that journey and to slowly make connections to what is happening in my tissues. Thanks for sharing such a… Read more »

Jen Wheaton

I have read this post before, but am reading it from a very different place now both physically and emotionally so am seeing it with new lenses. I appreciate and admire your authenticity and dedication to not only your own recovery but to teaching others the power of self care and self acceptance. The first time I rolled on a courgeous ball in class I would say it was painful, I had my abdominals contracted throughout the class to prevent the ball from permeating my abdominal layers. I’m not sure now what was more painful, the physical sensation of the… Read more »

Keiko Johnson

On several occasions, I’ve laid on the Coregeous Ball, but a column of something unrelated to anything I can see in an anatomy book, something mysterious is unwilling to give. My core was also subject to an adolescent bout of bulimia and later by an emergency C-section. The weakness there in my otherwise healthy body has been something I have not yet healed. It can be discouraging because there seems to be no road map through except the one my own core will traverse. Thank you for your encouragement. It helps!

Keisha F.

The first time I laid on a squishy ball (in a YT-based workshop), it was a complete revelation. I had no idea of all the tightness, tenderness, and emotional baggage I was carrying in this region. Even though it was amazing, I haven’t really done it again since (other than laying a few times on a rolled up yoga blanket). This article has reminded me that I should do this every day and give my core the release and attention that it needs.

Stephanie Boxall

I think this is great! and have used a similar process in a different Yoga discipline. It took getting used to but I find a large amount of relief from my back pain in laying on the ball/mat. At this time, there has not been an emotional trigger from laying on the ball but maybe I have not been there long enough 🙂 Thanks Jill for sharing your personal journey as well!

Cathy Mook

I have had low pain recently and had a C-section 31 years ago and gave birth to a disabled child. I’ve always had emotional issues around his birth….. I’m going to get a coregorous ball and start rolling out my back pain as well as emotionally issues.

Crystal Fauber

For years I worked to get strong abs to combat back pain. I ended up having More back pain, as I was mostly strengthening the superficial layer and not getting to deeper transversus layer that is necessary for organ and back health and stability. My friends were always asking me to flash my abs and I even got flown to NYC for a magazine shoot! The corgeous ball has been so valuable in erasing years of abuse and releasing physical tension and mental confusion around this area. My back feels better and better as I age! Thank you for your… Read more »