Kayleigh Miller is a Yoga Tune Up teacher and a member of the San Antonio Symphony viola section. She enjoys a varied career of performance, teaching, and yoga instruction. In addition to teaching yoga, she maintains a blog on Musicians’ Health and has additionally been published in string journals, blogs, and other publications. She is also beginning her first year in Restorative Exercise Specialist training with Katy Bowman, and is excited to expand her knowledge of the body.
How/when/where did you first learn about YTU and what interested you most?
I first encountered Jill Miller when my 200 hour yoga teacher trainers (David Vendetti and Todd Skoglund at South Boston Yoga) mentioned her work and the value of self-massage and healthy movement mechanics. We initially used lacrosse balls to roll out our feet and hips (circa 2008- they now use softer stress transfer mediums!) and I always carried balls when traveling and performing. I later bought Jill’s DVDs when I was a member of the string quartet in residence at the University of Nevada, Reno and realized that this was the direction I wanted to take my teaching and knowledge in. In 2013, I had the opportunity to perform in England, Switzerland, China, Canada, and Ottawa and my YTU balls and sequences went with me everywhere. I found I was often asked to teach yoga or help with someone’s aches and pains after they saw me rolling. Later that year, while I was staying at my parent’s home in Pasadena, CA, I saw that there was an upcoming YTU training with Trina Altman and Sarah Court and knew immediately that I had to do it. The self-massage piece was definitely what initially drew me in, though now, I equally love the creative movements, anatomy, and integration with biomechanics.
How did YTU training challenge your pre-existing movement, yoga, or fitness knowledge and training?
As a professional orchestral musician and a yoga teacher trainer, YTU has rocked my world, both in terms of self-care practices and my teaching. It has made me completely change my movement goals from “achieving poses” to moving better with less pain or more strength, and helping my clients do the same. YTU has also been a perfect introduction to anatomy and movement mechanics, which inspired me to do Katy Bowman’s Restorative Exercise Specialist training and also has given me the opportunity to be on faculty for a 200 hour yoga teacher training. Oh, and it got me outside of my comfort zone and into trying new movement practices!
What has been the biggest epiphany/change in your personal movement practice? What is/was your most surprising body blind spot?
I now know that I have weak glutes from a lifetime of sitting, that my thoracic mobility and shoulder flexion is dubious, and I have been masking all of it with some supreme rib thrusting. More importantly, I’ve been inspired to not just do yoga or Yoga Tune Up®, but to also explore weight training, natural movement, kettlebells, and more, which has really opened my eyes to new ways of training, refining control, and gaining strength.
How has your teaching evolved since incorporating YTU? Have you explored other movement practices or teachings that you might not have otherwise?
I would hands down say that YTU trainings have developed my anatomical fluency in a way no other movement training has. I’ve also realized that there is no “end goal” in teaching, no “perfect pose/body/movement practice,” and we are all on a spectrum of exploring the dynamic interplay between strength and mobility, control and creativity. My own proprioception as a performer has changed drastically and it is such a treat to give students that opportunity as well. YTU has also equipped me with the skills to go into diverse environments, adjusting context and vocabulary, and teach to whoever is there, whether they’re a CrossFitter, nurse, high schooler, yoga teacher trainee, or desk worker. It’s made me realize that I love movement and the potential of the human body, and that yoga isn’t the only way to explore the body, but just one way of millions.
What is your current favorite YTU ball sequence or pose?
I’ll keep it classic – I love unzipping my thoracic spine (watch the how to here), whether it’s after practice or orchestra rehearsals, or it’s before a movement practice. I do have some hyperkhyphosis in my spine, and daily work on it has great decreased my pain, increased my strength, and enhanced my awareness as a mover and musician.