I apologize for the bait and switch, but I had to get your attention somehow. This blog is about how I accidentally discovered my own immune-boosting powers deep within a gut that I hated. It’s about your inner medicine chest.

I am not a nutritionist, and I rarely give any advice on diet except “drink plenty of water.” Perhaps my own history of disordered eating is why I don’t. I can remember reading anything and everything that held the keys to weight loss and staying thin for way too many years. Those were years of tumult and inner conflict, and it wasn’t until I started truly sensing my own appetite, along with feeling my deeper feelings of craving, coping, loss and anger, that I was able to heal my feeding phobias. So I pledged to not contribute to the dietary information mayhem that is available.

Abdominal Massage and Healing What Hurts

But I do want to share with you something I learned during those years of starving and bingeing. If you’ve followed my blog for the past 6 years, you know that I am a huge fan of self-massage (in fact, I’m writing a book about it!). And my favorite area to explore is my core. I learned to reclaim my gut and stomach health through abdominal self massage. Unbeknownst to me, the gut massage that I experimented with in my dorm rooms during college to heal my inner pain was boosting my immune system and my sense of self-worth.

During my college years, when I was an active bulimic, I was also a dancer and yogini. I remember not really having a great sense of balance, and felt like my own core was missing. When I told my yoga teacher about not being able to sense my gut, she recommended that I lay my belly over a sandbag shaped like a hamburger bun that she had at her studio. It was exceedingly uncomfortable and brought me to tears. I knew that the discomfort I felt was in direct proportion to the trauma I was creating with bingeing and purging. I needed to address this pain on every level.

jill-abdominal-massage

A grippy pliable air-filled ball is perfect for abdominal massage and will place less pressure on viscera than a harder tool.

Back in my own dorm room, I rolled a towel into that same shape and began my yoga practice every day with deep breathing into the intense discomfort emanating from my belly. This practice helped me find a new sense of center and, happily, it helped me heal on many physical levels as well. Over the years, I experimented with different objects to help heal my gut, and ultimately settled on a grippy pliable air-filled ball that placed less pressure on my viscera than the rolled-up towel. Lying on a soft, pliable ball while breathing into it may seem like an awkward way to fight a cold, but lodging it into your core just might be better than your mom’s chicken soup.

Come back on Friday to learn about your immune system’s response to abdominal massage and deep breathing!

 

[Reprinted with permission from Gaiam Life]

 

Explore your core with the Coregeous® ball

Discover more Yoga Tune Up therapy ball products

Relieve stress with this Quickfix online video

 

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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Martine Lauzon

I am REALLY looking forward to learning more about this! I have recently realized that I have been hiding and what I believed was ‘protecting my core’. Because of this, my hips and abdominal muscles are shortened and very weak. I struggle with weight loss and pain and movement. I am fascinated by gut health and truly believe that bringing attention and self care to this area will create a big shift for my core. Thanks Jill I can’t wait to teach others about this too <3

Madi

Hi Jill, wow I can relate to this on so many levels- dancer and yogi, history of disordered eating, inner conflict and sense of self-worth. Really fascinating to hear this intimate mind-body interplay and how the psyche is present not just in the brain, but in every tissue and every cell! I am eager to try these abdominal massage techniques!

Tari Surapholn

I’m usually use thoracic-belly breathing to massage my stomach, but sometimes I tighten the muscle all over the belly. I don’t know if I shyould do that to not, but I feel fine. I did try coregeous ball once, but I didn’t feel good.

Jenna Mitchell

It makes sense that massaging your core helped strengthen your self-worth. Since the Solar Plexus Chakra has a lot to do with power, confidence and sense of self. This is very interesting. Thanks for your honesty.

Lorena

Wow! That sure got my attention. It’s interesting how we don’t realize how much damage we can do to our own body. If only it was as easy to fix it! Thanks for sharing your so very personal story, as I am sure there are a few people out there that can relate to eating disorders.

Carole Giuliani (Thyret)

I have found that using the Coregeous Ball can be very uncomfortable so it isn’t the first ball I usually grab when I want to roll…but I think it may have to start being the first! Thank you for reminding me of all the benefits.

sue okuda

I have been through a lot of emotional stress this year and I know it is affecting my abdominals, guts, breathing. Thank you for sharing this part of your story and giving some background to the development of the Coregeous ball work.

Li Si Yang

Interesting, I have tried using the Yamuna balls before and it’s great especially when I am feel bloated. I will definitely try he softer ball and experience it for myself.

Anastasia Polito

Thank you Jill for being so forthcoming about your own difficulties relating to eating and sharing how abdominal massage helped you shift to a healthier relationship with food and your body! I am currently taking the YTU Level 1 training and I am very excited for our upcoming abdominal body rolling work!!! I sense that it will be transformational 🙂

Janice

As I read each of the posts, I could see myself in many of them. Like Vanessa, I, too, have a tendency to go to food and keep away from it. It all depends on my state of mind. If I am happy, I can control what I put in my mouth, but if I am stressed, anxious or depressed, I turn to eating. I am not overweight according to the ‘charts,’ but know myself that I do have struggles with some bodily areas with one being my gut. I am looking forward to lodging a pliable ball into my… Read more »

Mindy Porell

Focusing on your core and your breath to heal your gut has been an ah-ha moment for me. Thank you for sharing. everyone’s comments have helped me also.

Dianne

I have learned on a deep level that when it comes to ones guts there is so much to learn. I was diagnosed with SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) about 2 years ago and learned through testing that my SIBO was caused by multiple food poisonings that happened over a number of years of annual extended family trips to Mexico. While a healthy large intestine should be teaming with bacteria (think ‘microbiome’), the small intestine should be relatively pristine. When unfriendly bacteria take up residence there they can make a host body feel very bloated, uncomfortable and at a loss… Read more »

elodie

i think more and more people (i don’t say girls, because not including boys, is making them even more ashamed and vulnerable for that topic) are experiencing eating disorders… due to the body we want by parents, society expectations. If i speak for myself, to add some love to the bellies around the world, i would say that i learned, at 18years old, that the section from ribs to pubic would take tremendous efforts and patience, for allowing me to go in and heal. The soma-therapist (a friend i studied TCM with) respected the fact my body would not let… Read more »

Riannon

I have been intimidated by the amount of discomfort I feel when I lay with my belly over the coregous ball. This article has motivated me to start slow, breathe into the discomfort and see what’s on the other side. Thanks, Jill!

JIll Miller

Cathy, rolling the Coregeous Ball lateral to medial (side of obliques toward the linea alba) may be a helpful approach with your diastasis. Placing the ball in the center of your abdomen would be contraindicated. Check out Katy Bowman’s book on Diastasis Recti and how she uses the therapy balls. Also, there is good info in my pregnancy webinar from her, Kelly Starrett and Esther Gokhale that can give you further support around this. https://www.creativelive.com/courses/healthy-pregnancy-healthy-baby-jill-miller

Cathy Corkery

I am curious of any or if some of the ball rolling is safe with a DR? I have a significant separation with frequent searing pain with activation of my abs. My dr. doesn’t know if this would be a good thing or not. Any thoughts? Thanks.

Diana

I am so grateful to YTU for helping me with the courageous ball work. I have had abdominal separation for years and all of my exercising and movement have helped only so much. It wasn’t until I used the courageous ball that I released restrictions and awakened my nervous system to s place where I can make progress. Thank you

Delfina Bonilla-Lopez

It’s truly amazing just HOW MANY things are going on in our guts. Maybe that’s where the saying “trust your gut” came from. It’s odd to think about your sense of “self worth” coming from your gut, for instance. It seems to be a concept that so many of us get so inside our “heads” about, right? And, not our guts. I like thinking about it this way though because like you, I have a lot of pent up tension in this area of my body from a host of different issues and challenges I’ve faced. The coregeous ball has… Read more »

Gale Claire

I have held patterns of contracting in my gut in uncomfortable situations all my life… And when the pattern continues it helps to have a means of switching it off. Practitioners have always been able to identify the stress held in my stomach and so I would commonly try massaging it. The ball however is the best!
Thanks for encouraging all of us to tend to our second brain externally as well (not just healthy diet).

Chloe Whitfield

I avoid doing any core work with the coregeous ball because it brings me to tears. In high school, all my stress went into my core; I could feel the knots in my stomach. Once I’ve completed the level 1 certification, I know I’m going to have to start using the courageous ball on my core to heal my core.

Tiffany Garnett

Jill, I don’t understand how rolling on the towels in your dorm helped you overcome your eating disorders. I understand that rolling on the balls and massaging your abdomen may cause more blood flow or movement of the bowels maybe? I don’t get how it got you out of bulimia. Was it the body/mind connection, or just the fact of being more aware of your gut?

Nicole Adell

Now I get it! Jill thank you for being the strong and courageous woman that you are!! Can’t wait to get my Corgeous video!!

sara

This is an especially important conversation to have in the health, healing, and fitness community. So much of our self hatred and abuse can be dressed up in the outfit of healthy eating and diligent exercise. I love this honest blog on both sides of the “core” paradigm.

Stacey Rosenberg

Thank you Jill. This is something I learned from you years ago with a rolled up towel and it has been so instrumental in my healing process. Being someone who tends to holds emotions in my belly I am continuing to learn to let go. I love the Coregeous Ball – it takes the practice to the next level! It has helped me break up scar tissue from an operation that was locking me down for years. It has also improved my digestion and overall gut health, deepened my breath, opened my back body, and given me access to strengthen… Read more »

ECM

As I read the first few lines of Jills’ article, I remembered my own weight/diet struggle while I went to college. As the years went by, I started witnessing how my poor eating habits were causing me allergies and digestive issues besides frustrations, of course. Learning more on nutrition and health changed my whole approach on food and exercise. I am constantly looking on ways I can strengthen my core. So far breathing and restorative yoga are my best friends. Abdominal massage is certainly a new territory for me and I am very curious on trying it and reading Jill’s… Read more »

Vanessa I

As I read the struggle Jill Miller had in her earlier years. I know now more women are coming out with their trouble with an eating disorder. Our society has a perfect image how women are suppose to look. Me being over weight, this is a struggle. I have a tendency to go to food and keep away from it, depending on my state of mind. In other words if I am happy I can control what goes in my mouth, but if I am depressed I turn to eating. This definitely creates me having so many stomach issues. I… Read more »

RM

I think most woman can relate to body and eating issues, so it makes sense that we’re uneasy when it comes to the gut. Practicing belly breathing is one way to be in touch with that part of our body, and it felt liberating to fill it with air and then let it sink down again, when I really focused on that abode during a recent anatomy class. Next time I try an abdominal massage, I’ll swap out my hands for a ball – that’s a great tip.