Student: Jill, what do you actually do for your personal yoga practice?

Me: I practice what I teach.

Student: You mean you don’t do anything else? Spinning? Or running? Or Zumba? I mean, how do you get your arms to look like that?

Me: I don’t mean to sound cryptic … but I practice what I teach.

It’s true. I have been practicing yoga and multiple movement arts since I was 11 years old, and the yoga practice I teach in the classroom (I began teaching part-time at age 19 at The Omega Institute) has evolved and changed with me through the past two decades. The work I share in my classesworkshopsconferences and videos all resonates with my own discoveries in my personal “jungle gym” of a practice.

Every movement, every moment.

One maxim that I hold to be true is that every moment counts, every movement counts. (Thank you, Zobha, for making this your awesome brand statement!) I would add to this: How you hold yourself in every movement amounts to moments that matter to your longevity.

In other words, we have choices to make in every moment about how we use our body to accomplish an action. These choices include our posture while standing in line, talking on the phone, sitting at our desk, during exercise or watching TV. Practice using your body in daily life the way a first-chair violinist maintains their precious instrument. Keep it in tune. Treat your body with impeccable form during all of the “small things.” This adds up to better posture over time. Practicing with your body in inefficient positions creates deficits in the body that can create imbalance, discomfort and pain.

You literally take your yoga practice with you wherever you go. Make it matter. Connect to the smaller actions in life. They add up!

How I stay in tune: A portrait of my daily practice

But if you are really curious as to what my daily yoga practice entails … here is what a good day looks like for me. My yoga practice is full of variety, and what I’ve pulled together below is just a small slice of a much larger pie. Of course, a year from now, this might all look totally different!

Typically, my practice begins with an early morning walk with my dogs. Here are Cassius and Deli doing “sit and stay” before their walk.

Back from the walk, some deep self-massage with my Yoga Tune Up® Therapy BallsTargeting myofascial tension, stimulating proprioception and prepping my body for practice.

Opening my hips and working my abdominals on my foam roller. A Supple Psoas is a prelude to all other hip movements.

Playful dynamic warm up, also known as dancing (with my current fave, Robyn). Yes, that’s me on the right! I typically don’t need my wig and costume to get my boogie on, but occasionally it’s fun!

Shoulder stabilization with Matador Circles to strengthen the entire rotator cuff.

Monk Walks with Side Bends for whole-body integration. This pose makes the side of your core groan with glee!

Getting core-geous on the Balance Ball along with some Uddihyana Bandha. This is harder than it looks 🙂


It’s even more fun to squat with friends!

Asymmetrical Twisted Triangle with a yoga block makes my hips happy.

Backbending. Notice how this pose comes near the end of my practice? I do backbends after I am very, very warm.

A fun Handstand and a moment of upside-down equipoise.

Unwind almost everything with Leg Stretch #3, a version of Twisted Triangle.

Veeparita Korani Mudra: This partial inversion helps to tune down the nervous system for meditation.

Savasana: Deep, restorative Corpse Pose.

Playing with the dogs again. This time let’s play ROPEY!

[Reprinted with permission from Gaiam Life.]

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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Jill D Sansom

Practice what you teach – and teach what you practice. Taking care of your body throughout the day, as when doing the small things is a great reminder that it is not just what you do on your yoga mat that will affect your overall health and vitality. This is the true blessing of staying present and in tune!

JUNE BARTON

Thank you for this article, looks like a lot of fun, every moment and every movement counts. I definitely going to choreograph my own daily practice to have meaningful and enjoyable routine to prepare the body physically and mentally.

Melanie Blanchette

Love it! I agree that each of us has the choice to take control of our daily movements to get a better posture. You are very inspiring with your daily pratice. Thanks for sharing 😉

Alice Yuan

OMG Jill!! That playful dynamic dance picture!!! Made my day ? i love seeing this! It really reminds me that fitness/movement should be FUN and how it could relate to our every day every movement!

Christine (CJ) Lamborn

Thanks for sharing your practice! This simple breakdown of actions makes so much sense and provides a great template to follow.

Emily Botel

Thank you for this post and for sharing an example of your daily practice! Love the violin maintenance analogy 🙂 As a violinist, I have learned the hard way that my body is an equally important instrument. I really do see how every day actions effect my body on a larger scale- my ability to play my instrument is impacted by everything I do. I love that YTU gives us permission to honor small actions, to play and to shake routines and poses up.

Nadia

Since I started YTU I’ve noticed how I tend to push my hip out to one side at the kitchen counter doing dishes or brushing my teeth. Little things do matter. I was always so focused on my posture while doing yoga. When you start to understand the body more clearly it becomes clear that it’s really everything we do habitually outside of our practice that matters the most.

Mary Jane Wilkie

This piece reminds the reader that nothing is isolated, that awareness of movement is not limited to a time frame, that every moment is a moment to strengthen, improve, and enjoy.

Isabelle Cote

Many ideas fire fly in my head (!) : many superbs attitudes described in the article illuminate my beliefs! J

Of these good words, I want to keep in mind the process of taking care of our body: even in all the smallest things, treat our body with respect and with impeccable form. And go forward gradually by accumulating each of these small gestures towards changes and improvements for what we have most valuable : our self. Posture change, all change.

Beautiful ! Merci !

Stéphanie Marchand

Thanks Jill for sharing your daily routine! I think the most important is to listen to your body everyday and play with it to do your “training”. We don’t need the same massage or the same exercices routine to respond to our body at the moment!! I’m training people and juste finished my YTU level 1 and my vision is so different right now in every class I teach (Buti Yoga, Pound Fit, HIIT, Spinning). I feel complete right now and I understand Why and How!

Monica

Thank you for this reminder, Jill. One of the most important lessons I took away from my recent YTU training with Ariel Kiley was that how you do something is how you do everything. This came up in regards to our sankalpas that each of us crafted throughout the week and meditated on often. It’s easy to justify self-destructive behavior and diminish it’s significance when you promise yourself that when it really counts, you will change. I’m continuing to work on my Sankalpa! I love now to consider how this rings true for not only the mind, but the body… Read more »

Anna

I can understand how you would be asked this question! Bringing your practice into every moment is essential to our well-being and shows us how to notice all of the bad habits we carry with us everywhere we go. It reminds me of the time I used to carry my toddler on only 1 hip all the time and twisting and turning around all over the place doing what I need to do. I feel so empowered with all that YTU has brought to me already and it feels like just the tip of the iceberg.

Milidi

Thanks for sharing your routine. “We have choices in every moment” I will use this next time I am standing/sitting around waiting for someone or something because in those times I start feeling trapped. I have the choice to use the time to check in with my posture, alignment and breath instead of letting my mind convince me I am being held against my will.

Line Bernier

WoW! Je conserve cette routine pour me l’approprier et je pourrai constater les améliorations dans mon propre corps! Un gros merci Jill!

Jimmee Greco

I enjoyed reading about your daily practice. I especially liked how you remind us that small, daily movements add up (and of course all the fantastic strength training!).

Holly P

Thanks for sharing, this was awesome to read and see :). It has inspired me to try to incorporate Yoga (not just asana of course), more free movement, with proper alignment/stabilization in more elements of my daily routines.

Sandy Gross

Hi Jill and all:) I searched for Monk Walks and found this blog:) I freakin’ love that you offer so much strength training as part of Yoga Tune Up. I knew it was in there form watching your DVD’s but now having been in Level 1 all week, I see and appreciate that it is a significant art of your work. Going from a fitness girl/teacher to then a yoga teacher and then having found you via my foray into CrossFit 4 years ago, I love how my instincts are validated by your Yoga Tune Up model. And I have… Read more »

Dawn

Thanks for answering this question in such detail! Many teachers I’ve asked in the past have given vague answers. Your answer not only gives me a glimpse into your personal life, it shows me you’re human! Oh, and it gives me an idea of how to sequence a personal practice of my own.

Lisa Hebert

This is inspiring! And I love that your practice is so much more than a set of physical exercises; incorporating dogs, the outdoors and dancing!! So often our practice looks and feels like work after a while. I’ve started trying to bring a sense of play back into how I train for better movement- jumping in with my ever active 6 year old on the play structures, turning cartwheels together and racing around the yard! At the same time, she is interested in my yoga, my YTU Therapy Balls and loves pouring over my anatomy books with me. I suppose… Read more »

Melissa

Thank you for sharing your daily practice, Jill. I like to start my day with a dog walk too. I appreciate the reminders to be more mindful of how we move, sit, etc. throughout the day.

Kim

Love the idea of conscious movement throughout the day. Being aware of our movement, posture and alignment 24/7 so that we can practice until we die! Thanks Jill.

Cailyn Edwards

I love the simple answer – “I practice what I teach”. We are always growing, improving, changing, and adapting. We must practice what we teach so that we can allow it to grow and develop as needed. Something that sounds great when you think about may not feel right on the mat – and something you discover on the dance floor may be just what you want to bring into the yoga class. I love the connection between our lives and our practice. Thank you so much for sharing!

Kaitrin Doll

I LOVE THIS!
I often wonder how others practice, I like to mix up my daily practice and I think I will take a few lessons from your blog and integrate them into my own. I especially like how you integrate some fun and playfulness into your routine. I also believe it’s important to incorporate practice into daily life when you can; your blog is a good reminder to keep the message balls always at the ready and maybe even at the corner of my desk as a reminder to take even two minutes for some practice throughout the day.
Thanks

jackie leduc

Playfulness is such an important part of the day. Dancing to my own style of not so graceful Zumba or yoga trance dance or just plain old hilarious 80s style of letting loose sure changes my mood and energetic level. I know that more people need to let loose and not be so hard on themselves with such driving habits and thoughts that intense physical training is a daily must for a sound fitness and health regiment.

KCB

Thanks for sharing! It is so true that our “practice” is not just the hour (or more or less) that we may come to our mat, but every moment of every day. I have been challenged to evolve my home practice after having a baby (now a year and a half) and now on the journey of pregnancy number 2…each new adventure in life presents new challenges and new opportunities to create time and space for ourselves and make conscious choices about how to maximize that time. I’d be interested to see how your practice evolves as a mom!

Donna Clark

I love how you begin and end with the dogs ( me too) and now a babe too I believe. I suspect the baby fills up some middle time:). It is very refreshing to see hear how you emphasize “impeccable” in all the small things as just the word impeccable makes me sit a little taller and form my thoughts with a little more grace. And practice what I teach – also words that foster accountability to who we are in every moment. Thanks. Rings very true.

Sarah

What an awesome post, Jill! I love that you acknowledge your history and that your current practice is an integration of many different kinds of movement experiences and practices, and that the real practice is always in this moment, which is always moving, dancing, and evolving. I am currently practicing noticing what kinds of movement feels like home in my body and what kinds of movement I am NOT drawn to, or wouldn’t think to try, or that I outright avoid. This has already had the effect of transforming the transition from downdog into lunges into a living laboratory for… Read more »

Gwen

Thanks for sharing your practice! It’s educational. I love how a home practice evolves. Mine has been in a big state of evolution in the past couple of years through my twin pregnancy…and then the hard part: raising twins! Balance and my practice look different than they used to, and I know that will continue to evolve. Now that I’ve been able to sleep through the night I take on more, but a lot of my practice is what you discuss: awareness and focusing on healthy movement during my day. 🙂

tao

Interesting post. I recently drove from NYC to Wilmington DE after a weekend with Lillee Chandra’s Yoga Tune Up class. Ever few miles I caught myself sinking into the seat and was suddenly HIGHLY concerned about my lumbar spine and erector spinae! It was the best posture I’ve ever had behind the wheel! It all makes sense: the little movements and held postures add up, so do it with conscious intention. When I was younger, my music teachers taught me to play with good posture. 20 years later, I sit up with great posture every time I play without even… Read more »

Jarett G

Thanks Jill. I think this post is awesome and gets the point across that variety is a vital part of a healthy fitness/lifestyle routine. I often find people who are totally wed to a single ideology or type of fitness practice, which isn’t a bad thing, but I think they miss out on the opportunity to develop their bodies more holistically. It’s so important to have balance and thanks for showing your version of it!

Christina

Just reading what your daily practice looks like makes me want to get moving! I too have noticed a difference in my body by paying more attention to my form as I move about my day. This blog entry will need to be updated once the baby is born. It will be interesting to see and note how life changes with a little one around!

Nadjiba Medjaoui

Thank you for sharing your personal practice…it is inspiring. I am starting to incorporate yoga tune up poses in my daily practice and I have to say that it is working…My posture is better, I feel flexible and gaining strength!

Kayleigh

Love it! I’m always wondering how to challenge my daily practice and how other instructors do-this is a great basic template.

Tina Broome

Jill,
THANK YOU for providing a realistic portrait of a daily practice. For years movement (not just Yoga) has provided healing and joy in my life and I include dancing, swimming and even baths as part of a healthy practice. All of these (and more) contribute to my overall well being – physically, mentally & emotionally.
Thanks for representing 😉

Barbie Levasseur

Yummy, I’m bookmarking this for after I’m done your training. My dog, Foxy, helps me with my well-being, too. 2.5 years ago, I set a goal to go to the beach every week. Something about that enormous, powerful body of water that touches every continent makes me feel present and connected. At the time, I didn’t come close to achieving that goal. However, when I got Foxy, I found out that her favorite thing in the world is playing fetch on the beach. It’s crazy how happy she gets about it. Because of her, I make it out for a… Read more »

Sharrari Fit

I love my morning walks with my dogs! Fitting in socializing and yoga is fun. I always enjoy a good sweat, but know that when it cant be fit in there is always the present moment to at least have my mental practice of yoga. Even if I could just take the stairs instead of the elevator at work, that is my present moment exercise. The sky is the limit. And there is youtube as well if I am ever bored or uninspired with my usual. Its almost been a year. Would love to see the new update to this… Read more »

Stephanie

Great run down of what you do on a day-to-day basis and some additional movements to add to my own personal practice. The home run for me was how you hold yourself in every moment is the key to your longevity. I certainly was checking in with my core, hips and feet tonight while making a salad and brushing my teeth among other things. Lots of new habits to form!

Ryan

Jill,

Thank-you for bringing attention to the fact that every moment matters! I often see people that have a very focused movement practice during the time in which they train, but once it’s over, very little awareness is given to their posture. I believe that the habitual movement patterns people use during daily activities are much more influential to our health than the few hours we spend practicing.

Gennifer Morris

Thanks for sharing what you do. Practice makes permanance, and we all have choices everyday in how we move on what we want that to look like. I think with this practice it will help me to be strong and supple as I age.

Stacy Jackson

Bringing what I practice on my yoga mat into my daily life is key to total mind body connection.

pam everson

It is helpful to see the experts use the practice for themselves. thanks for sharing.

Peggy Sue Honeyman-Scott

Incorporating integrative body movement into daily life is essential. Sitting in a class for 8 hours (on the floor no less) I am reminded constantly about my forward rolling neck and shoulders and then reeling it in. That is daily practice.