Shake it Off

Mother’s Day has mixed feelings for me. I have 3 teenagers and I absolutely love being a mother, but I lost my own mother 16 years ago to breast cancer. There are times around significant life events like Mother’s Day, perhaps you can relate to this, where I get completely caught up in missing my mom and I feel like a child inside. Sometimes it’s hard to get myself out of a funk for a few days. But life keeps moving, you shake it off, and eventually the sadness passes.

In my work as a Yoga Tune Up® Teacher, which includes yoga, corrective exercise and self-massage with therapy balls, my student base has expanded over the years to include professional and D1 collegiate coaches and athletes of multiple sports as part of their training programs. These young athletes have tremendous stress on them to compete for playing time, win games (and championships), make appearances outside of practice time, keep grades up – not to mention the stress of being away from home, some for the first time ever. The expectation of being a “pro” exists even at the college level. Game time situations are high stakes, and it is said that a basketball athletes body, for example, goes through several car accident-level incidents during each game. The physical and mental toll is sharp and can be long lasting. The term “shake it off” is a normal part of sports lingo. But can you really simply just move on from such jolts to your body and brain?  

Learning to Grow

One thing I noticed is that these young athletes were used to being coached, and therefore were open to being students of their craft and their bodies. This is at the core of what we teach in Yoga Tune Up®. Our sessions were centered around learning their own anatomy, learning tools and techniques to improve movement patterns used in their sports, to be a self-reliant and skilled soft tissue hygienist of their bodies. Those that applied themselves were able to make connections between the performance enhancing techniques we were learning with the self soothing or self-parenting potential of this work. An upper body roll-out in between a bus or plane ride or a legs-up-a-wall moment at the end of a hard practice session combined with diaphragmatic breathing not only helps your body recover, it reboots your brain and nervous system – and your soul. I’ve witnessed the physical and mental resiliency and increased self reliance in these amazing athletes, not to mention in myself from when I do my own self care.

Roll it Out

Self care techniques such as the Yoga Tune Up® teaching methods go beyond sports performance and affect the lives of anyone needing some self parenting. Stress, anxiety and emotions, such as sadness, pass sooner when a conscious choice is made to honor that emotion combined with a self care technique, such as the ones I’ve highlighted below. So, have a pick-myself-up-by-the-boot-straps chat with yourself, grab some therapy balls, and self-parent yourself through a difficult moment. Stay with it for as long as you feel your mood shift and make self parenting moments a regular part of your day.

General directions to athletes and anyone who wants to maintain healthy feet as they age: I recommend you do some form of embodied foot massage before and after each and every practice and game. Use these techniques as a localized movement prep before you lace up your sport shoes to improve your embodied intelligence of your feet. What does that mean? Awakening the relationship between your brain through your shoes to your toes, this connection is something you need in the heat of sport to positively affect the directionality of your ground force production. Key moment: pause between your work with each foot, close your eyes, take a few deep breaths and *see* the foot you just worked on with your inner vision. This is what proprioception means or what we call in yoga, developing your mind/body connection.

Don’t wait for the athletic trainer or masseuse to do this for you on their time. Self-treatment deepens your proprioception, which doesn’t happen when you zone out when getting a massage from someone else.

Foot roll-out: Use these foot roll out techniques as a dose of soul-rolling self care before bed to improve tissue perfusion (your bodies ability to absorb the days nutrients and hydration) and to self soothe.

Self-massaging your feet with your hands:  Make an intention with this self foot massage of embracing the sometimes hard work of adulting and self-parent your way to a more resilient person. Take 5 or 10 minutes to massage your own feet. It’s my favorite way to self treat that I do daily. Use lotion to get just the right amount of soothing friction and create manageable traction between your toes and tissues. You’ll also get the bonus of working on your hip and low back mobility by the act of embracing the struggle to sit in a position that allows you to reach your own feet. Treat your tissues with loving respect as you sweep in between each set of long foot bones towards each toe. Breathe.

 Abdominal thoracic breathing: Self-soothing and down-regulation is only a breath away with abdominal thoracic breath.

Whether targeted at athletes or moms, self-care techniques such as the Yoga Tune Up® teaching methods go beyond sports performance and affect the lives of anyone needing some self-parenting.

Liked this article? Read Caring for Your Baby and Small Child’s Feet

Sandy Gross

Sandy Gross is the founder of Move Well Cleveland, where she is focused on movement education and self-therapy training. Over her 30-year career, she's been a fitness instructor, yoga teacher, and founded the Evolution Yoga School. Today, she empowers corporate clients and some of the winningest sports teams in NEO to prevent, manage, and eliminate their aches & pains. Additionally, she teaches anatomy & Self Care Fitness® for yoga teacher trainings and strength & conditioning coaches. Her clients include the Cleveland Cavaliers, Kent State Athletics, University Hospitals and Case Western Reserve University.

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Cammy Adair

Thanks Sandy! Great tips for me and my teenage athlete son!

Elizabeth Pezzello

The self foot massage is a game-changer. During my YTU training, my boyfriend was having a lot of pain in his feet. I led him through a rolling sequence for his feet and ankles and he was immediately relieved.

Jill D Sansom

What a great hand’s on practical way to deal with emotions, stress and the body all at once. Mind Body connection can sometimes feel a bit over used, but having it related to proprioception I found very intriguing. It is helpful to have different language to help people relate, and using the term self parent I thought was very insightful.

Leanne Werneke

I like the discussion about self-massaging your feet with the Yoga Tune Up balls. Flexible feet are so important for not only finding grounding and centering standing yoga postures, but for connection with the earth. Take of the shoes, massage the feet and go stand on a patch of grass on Mother Earth to pull energy into your body! You’ll notice your endorphin level increase and reduce your stress levels at the same time. A well-massaged foot will sink in and ground so much better.

Freia Ramsey

I love this connection between taking care of our physical bodies while simultaneously taking care of our emotional bodies. I think it’s important to have the intention of taking care of yourself in a compassionate way as opposed to having yet another list of things to do. Sometimes my self-care routines feel like just another thing on my to-do list. I know though that when my daughter comes to me and needs to be comforted, if it’s at all possible, I drop everything and am there for her. It’s a lot harder to do this for myself though. So until… Read more »


This is a great article. I personally enjoy the foot massage as its invigorating and at the same time relaxing. I use this sometimes with my students. This article emphasizes the importance of stress release.


I love how you brought all these different aspects of your life together in this post. And the idea to self-parent is so valuable, especially if you’re a parent yourself, I could definitely do with more of that!

Julie Rosier

Sandy, I love how this is a multi layered articles about parenting, coaching, sadness, and most importantly self care. We are all better at what we do if we take care of our bodies.


This is a great article and one that has hit home with me; as Mums we often put our family members first leaving ourselves a very distant last…..a timely reminder to get my YTU balls out and massage my feet whilst I type this!

Carole Giuliani

This article really resonated with me as I am also a mom of 4 teenagers and also have been missing my mom for over 20 years. Great advice to take care of yourself, am going to self massage my feet right now!


Self care=self parenting – words to live by. I’m going to roll my feet right now. Thanks for the reminder. Great read!


This resonates with me, because I have division 1 athletes and highschool athletes that I train. The story about the basketball player enduring the car accidents per game was really eye opening!

Tessa Watson

“self-parenting”– ***BRILLIANT!! *** Your article really brought home the importance of teaching children, my own are both athletes, self-care techniques. I have been practicing Yoga Tune Up at my local studio for two years and now am in the middle of YTU Level one training. All the time this is teaching me the importance of sharing knowledge especially with my family. I already have in my head a way to implement this with my own and hope they will adopt it because it makes them feel better, not because “Mom said so”.

Wendy Hensley

Good reminder to me to take care of my own feet regularly. It makes a big difference in do little time.

Katiana Paré

Wow! What a terrific read, I’ve been a dancer my entire life and am now really getting into the teaching side of the field. YTU helped my body recover so much in my later performing years, that I want to start guiding my own students on how to bring self care into their daily practice. I find working with kids, and dancers tend to be very disciplined and the second you tell them they are the “teacher” their interest level spikes way up. I will definitely use your wording “self-parent” or “self-teach” to get them focused on this type of… Read more »


I find it fascinating that the young athletes develop the skills needed to remain students of their craft and bodies by being coached. I also love the analogy of self-care as self-parenting – a concept I can get behind as I am sometimes so fully immersed in actual parenting, that self-parenting becomes last on my list of priorities!


Thank you for sharing the idea of self parenting. This article got me to thinking about my husband as a soccer referee and the whole community of referees that could really benefit from this work. At the higher level games referees have to be quick on their feet and always in the right position to make the call. Sometimes not everyone agrees with the call and your left battling, coaches, parents and spectators. I’ve have witnessed first hand how stressful this job can be. Ball Rolling and self care has been extremely helpful especially between games. This helps to decrease… Read more »

Jamie Walsh

Thank you for this post, Sandy.

I have been contemplating how to help my younger brother (17 years old) with self care. I have often thought he might reject it, being in rebellious years. haha. This gave me a whole new perspective on how to approach it with him.

Mona Laflamme

Thank you Sandy, I didn’t réalise the advantage of self-massage compared to being massaged before, like proprioception. Also interesting that it can be used as a coping stategy .


I love this article’s focus on self care and self parenting. It’s one of the tings I love most about Yoga Tune Up® I appreciate your mention of foot massage. Self foot massage is so easy and so so so effective. It’s beneficial for just about everyone and can affect distant reaches of the body!

Jenni Everard

Taking responsibility for our own self care is such an important task. I developed fibromyalgia, restless leg syndrome, TMJ, chronic headaches, arthritis and a few other complications after my boys were born (over 19 years ago!). I’ve realized that movement is key to managing so much of my body’s issues. The weight room is my zen place. YTU has been the missing link for me. Self parenting is a brilliant term. People always comment on my discipline around taking care of my body. But the alternative is not a welcome one. I see my own mother, who has the same… Read more »


Great read!


Being a mom of two young children and trying to balance family, job as well as trying to start my own business – I learned the hard way the burn out that happens if you do not take time for self care. It is actually what attracted me to Yoga Tune Up in the first place. I usually give myself a foot massage before bed but I think I’ll add rolling to the routine as well!

Sandy Gross

Thank you everyone, for taking the time to comment !

Tatjana Brandl

Hi Sandy,
thanks for your inspiration. Self-care should be one of the most important things in my live, but it is still so hard not to convict myself for not beeing perfect. I lost my mum when I was 5 years old and it still hurts my inside. My life is all about learning how to love myself without needing sombody who gives me that feeling… conscious or subconsciously. So thank you for your words and inspiratioln again, thinking about my situation and trying my best to grow. Tatjana

Jennifer Mayer

I’m lucky enough to say my mom is still alive, but I live over 4500 miles away from her. I get migraines on the regular and I just love your “self-parenting” analogy! When I was much younger my mom used to rub my feet when I was suffering from a migraine. Just today I was stricken by a migraine and because it’s Mother’s Day, and I read your blog post, I decided to roll out my feet and self-parent myself. I called my mom and felt a lot more grounded and could feel my mom as I rolled. It was… Read more »

M. Summer Zaffino

This post just pulls at my heart strings. As a former basketball player who grew up in these competitive conditions. I was that athlete that knew the athletic trainer very well. I had both of my ankles taped and braced every time I set foot on the court. I had every size of crutches as I grew up. I am now 31 and 13 years post ankle reconstruction and the stiffness and lack of proprioception in my feet have caused lasting effects. Oh how I wish I would have been introduced to The Roll Model Method back then! I could… Read more »

Pascale hazledine

Wonderful read!i so agree with you about self care and proprioception.working with the military the yoga tune up method is perfect, military members are always on the move and can take their balls with them wherever they go.

Julie Cadorette

I love the idea of “self-parenting”. I’ll use your idea for new creative verbs in French, since it’s not always easy to translate “self-care”. Thank you!

Stéphanie Marchand

I love to read about your experience!! I’m doing my YTU training at the moment and I’m surprised to see and feel my body so differently. There’s is nothing like self-massage to understand what’s happening in it and it’s never too late to take care of you. I’m really excited to share my learnings with my people! Thanks for your sharing!


Thank you for your post,
I agree with you about feet and hands massage before and after each training. I do often this and it’s magic…

Isabelle P

Reading it, i will keep in mind to teach my athletes how to be more in charge of their own body or techniques so they can do it when they need even away in competitions.


Great post! I love your concept of ‘self-parenting’. I’ve been using the foot roll out sequence with a number of yoga students and massage clients with the added benefit of being the demo body. Each time I roll out my feet, I feel as though I’ve hit a reset button and savour the repeated down regulation throughout the day.


“Self-treatment deepens your proprioception, which doesn’t happen when you zone out when getting a massage from someone else.”

I love this, and it’s so true! Nothing forces a person to really understand what’s going on within themselves more than self-guided care. There is absolutely a time and place and a necessity to have a skilled therapist help guide you and provide treatment, but even treatments received from a professional won’t be as effective as they would be if the client or athlete is more actively participating in the recovery process. Huge!

Melissa Sohn

This is such an important article! I love the concept of integrating self massage with the YTU therapy balls during stressful or difficult times as a way to effectively self-parent. While my mom is still alive, she was “lost” to me during my teenage years and into my 20s. The increased mind/body connection that I’ve gained with YTU work and YTU ball rolling (especially the coregeous ball!) has been an incredible source of healing for me.