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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Dana

Personal/home practice is vital to health, longevity, and sanity. The biggest misconception I had in the beginning was that it had to look like a yoga class or I had to practice for 90 min. Home practice is a time to explore who you are in all aspects. Try those poses that don’t work for you and figure out why. Through that exploration we find what our body needs to do habitually and balance out those daily life movements that aren’t helping us be our best. Eventually we take the practice out into our life by consciously correcting the old… Read more »

Sunina Young

This post is inspiring because it reminds me, that we are all so different with unique experiences that whatever it is we teach can be a completely enlightening experience for someone. It’s great that you only teach what you actually practice.

Barbara Treves

Making every movement count – how true this is! I have been aware of how I sit and stand for many years and now it almost always comes automatically. In fact when I do find myself slouching, it feels very unnatural. The only problem with this postural awareness is that I want to keep correcting ALL of those people I see, shifting from hip to hip with arms crossed, rounded shoulders and pouchy bellies standing in that check out line in front of me!

Morgan Ward

I was also wondering how you get your arms to look like that! It completely makes sense that although you aren’t working out 24 hours a day, you are ALWAYS active in some way. It’s about finding the little things to keep you moving. Parking further away from the grocery store so you have to walk across the lot, always taking the stairs, getting up to talk to people rather than calling them at work. All the little things count!

Debi

After this week of training I find myself correcting my Tadasana where ever I am:)

Nikki Wong

I really resonate with what you said on the first day: 1) I am a student of my body. 2) I am a student of what I teach. 3) I study my students. If we are teaching and sharing from our personal experience, no one can invalidate the teaching because it was true for us and when we reference back to our experience while studying our students we become relevant teachers who can help our students create an experience of their own. So many students just want to mimic everything the teacher does because they see thru the teacher a… Read more »

Barbara Treves

Getting a template of your daily practice Jill is very helpful. It gives me some ideas as to what I will integrate into my own practice. I like the walk with the dogs. Connecting with the outdoors in this way is so important. In fact I just read a study that said that if you exercise outdoors your creative juices will flow more freely than if you were to do the same exercise indoors. So here’s for doing Yoga Tuneup by the beach!!

Johanna

Wow! I love how you put the twisted triangle in the corner! Wish I would’ve thought of that today.

Mado

For the past year or so I’ve started each practice with therapy ball self massage. It’s amazing how well it wakes me up, gets me breathing deeply, and inspires me to move! Before I started practicing this way, it was so easy for me to convince myself not to practice. Now all I need to convince myself of is to lay on the floor & roll on balls. The rest springs naturally from there!

Kimberly Lou

Yes, every moment does count. As far as your workout, I think the Foam roller is great addition to the YT Balls and Doggies are great for cardio!

Emily

This post returns my focus to an inquiry that often resurfaces as a student of yoga – “What are you aligning yourself with?” There’s a joke I like about this….a student of Iyengar says “You must have proper alignment,” and the student of “Dharma Mittra” says, when you have align yourself with G-d, you will always have good alignment! At one point, the notion “I align myself with my body” resonated for me. This attitude gave me a (rather generalized view) that ball and socket joints were like male and female parts, our body made to fold like origami…etc. HOWEVER….this… Read more »

Emily

This post returns my focus to an inquiry that often resurfaces as a student of yoga – “What are you aligning yourself with?” There’s a joke I like about this….a student of Iyengar says “You must have proper alignment,” and the student of “Dharma Mittra” says, when you have align yourself with G-d, you will always have good alignment! At one point, the notion “I align myself with my body” resonated for me. This attitude gave me a (rather generalized view) that ball and socket joints were like male and female parts, our body made to fold like origami…etc. HOWEVER….this… Read more »

Christopher Walling

This is a great maintenance sequence that preserves all the necessary components of needing to live a contemporary life and making our time count, but also addressing the major functional joint areas that need to stay hydrated and strong. This could also be called the “daily injury prevention sequence” LOL Thank you for practicing what you preach, and for being such an example for so many of us!

Giancarla

I love “Every Moment Counts”, the way you explained it. Sometimes it is not about making every moment die hard and extreme but its about making a CHOICE for balance in every moment. People often ask me, when do you practice? When do you meditate, when do you…etc. etc. etc. And I often say whenever and wherever! In fact, I think we are more successful when we include our “routines” into our daily life. Who says you can’t practice tubular core on the subway, or practice balancing while riding your bike and trying to sit up with no hands, or… Read more »

Ronald Todorowski

I absolutely agree that bringing your practice to your everyday life is very important. Yesterday as I was driving I suddenly became aware of my spinal posture and adjusted it immediately. The more we become consistently aware of our body alignment, breathing and thought patterns the more we can live the balanced, happy lives we deserve.

Meredith Brockriede

Jill, you do have amazing arms! I think Kristine’s comment sums up my thoughts as well: that what is “normal” for our bodies isn’t necessarily what we want to fall back into. Especially since we’re in this body day after day— sitting at our desks, picking up kids, and for the other teachers out there, standing at the front of class, influencing others! As Jill says, our practice is about creating our “new normal.” I love that you used this opportunity to show that you don’t have to have a rigid 90 minute daily practice. The more we work with… Read more »

Aranzasu

I am sometimes overwhelmed thinking about how much YTU I want to do and then I distract myself with other classes so this is really helpful. I mostly focus on rolling my upper back everyday and it’s helped me out so much but this is great! I’m excited to try them and knowing that I’m doing the poses Jill is doing every day is reassuring. I appreciate this!

Kristine Tom

One of the quotes that echoes in my head every day since the training is “your posture follows you like a shadow.” One of my main teachers has always taught that your body knows best, there was a huge focus on alignment but often he would mention that there is value is also letting the body come out of alignment once in a while if that is what feels needed. I am now re-thinking this with regards to my unconscious stance of weighting into one hip, being slightly duck footed when I stand (external rotation) , or hands on my… Read more »

Lisa Harris

“Every movement, every moment.” The first couple of days of the YTU training, I thought that Jill might have a form of turrets syndrome or something. I kept seeing her snap her head around, or point and quickly retract her arm, and give a certain look, and bark out “Tadasana”. Then I finally figured out that she was correcting people’s posture as they stood and watched a demo or listened to her teachings. “Every movement, every moment.” Then she did it to me! I am now more aware of the way I stand as a result. Hard habits to break!!… Read more »

Marion

Twisted triangle #3 = revolved half moon laying down. I love the use of the walls! I have done the moons against the walls and pressing my hands and legs against the walls to feel how each combination activates the various muscles in my body. My favorite is pressing my extended leg into the wall to assist in the internal rotation of my standing leg’s femur and from there I can twist a bit more to evolve my revolved moon.

Kevin Nguyen

Discovering Yoga Tune Up ihas changed my life and my has taken my teaching to a profound level. What I interpreted in this blog post is that the yoga and the movement is within us every single moment and make each moment, each movement count. For example, Jill corrected a student for standing with the hip slanted to one side. Each time we do that, it’s a moment lost of not being in posture and that misalignment could add up over time. Yogis do not have to be on the mat to practice yoga. Yoga is within us in every… Read more »

Yiselle Blum

Thank you so much, Jill! I have been struggling for a long time with incorporating my own daily practice into my routine. A huge challenge for me is now being in grad school again. I finished my first year have barely done any home practicing. Thank god I got a work study position at a yoga studio near my school because I was able to have a great and convenient way to practice every day or every other day. Having a different class schedule every day, which can sometimes include late night rehearsals, definitely makes having my own regular morning/evening… Read more »

Pam

This is so important. I lost myself in starting and owning my studio and teaching and stopped doing what I loved. It sent me into a bad place but finally I am starting to come out of it. I was unable to manage a studio, employees and the death of my father. So now, my aim is to get back to doing and sharing – rather then knowing in my head and imparting. When I do “it” with myself whatever that “it” maybe and then share I am a much better teacher. I am still struggling with how to find… Read more »

Mary Ruth

Making better choices is an ever present challenge full of possibilities…. Sometimes it seems so endless and sometimes so promising! Thank you for your playful take on your practice!

Jane

Very inspirational! I love the analogy of the body to a violin and the suggestion that we ‘maintain our precious instrument. Keep it in tune.’ All too often our bodies get neglected in the course of our busy lives. As I move forward, I intend to be more conscious of my own daily practice.

Elise Gibney

I love the idea that every moment includes choices about how we use our bodies. This is such a simple idea but really revolutionary. I find that, despite my best intentions, I often do things quickly and without consideration for the physical effects. Little things like what bag I use and how I bend down to feed my dogs could lead to problems later…. I try to be mindfully present and this is a nice reminder that mindfulness includes mindful movement. I try to live consciously in my body / mind as much as I can and this is such… Read more »

Nicole Quibodeaux

I absolutely love this article. Just finishing day 3 of the YTU Level 1 training, and being reminded to come back to my sankalpa, directly relates to how I embody my daily practice and how I stop myself from embodying my daily practice…thank you!!!!

Stephanie Fish

Thank you for the window into Jill world. “I practice what I teach” – sounds like an awesome Sankalpa.

Aranzasu

I thought that I was perhaps “obsessed” with my form because of my dance background when a woman commented that something was wrong with me for having great posture in all my pictures. After learning more about Yoga Tune Up in Santa Monica and reading this blog, I’ve realize that I’ve been on the right path for a long time! I can now feel more confident that being aware of my core while I stand, walk, or move anywhere helps me stay strong and it will help me live longer. It’s not an “obsession” (as it was implied by this… Read more »

Lisa Cassidy

This was a great read. I teach many movement forms and most are dance related. I obviously love to dance and I do enjoy just cranking up the tunes and going for it as a fun release. However, it is not my “workout”. I was starting to become rather dismayed as to what my own personal practice would be. I am not much of a weight room kind of girl, I don’t cycle, I teach so much that I don’t really take other classes just based on time and well, just a lack of interest in other group fitness programs.… Read more »

Rachelle Tersigni

This is indeed inspirational. I can absolutely see how doing this everyday or even most days would keep your body strong and supple deep inside. Pretty on the inside!;) I also have been strictly into yoga and nothing else, making it about breath and trusting that the alignment was right. I rarely get adjusted in class further adding to my sense that what I am doing is aligned. But my onslaught of injuries, which I feel is due to weakness of muscles some from repetitive use, and some from under use has been a wake-up call. I need to do… Read more »

Oksana

Make every pose count, I love that. If we can practice using our body correctly in every movement we do, not just on the mat, we can fit our practice into our life.

Alison Lloyd-Nijjar

This is what i love about your method (and teachers who practice/teach outside the box, fuse other traditions with yoga ). I was very rigid for many years in what i thought yoga was or supposed to be. Then life made me to question all that and i started resonate much more with teachers who talked about the brain/body and taught human movement. Hindu mythology and Patanjali are cool AND healthy human movement and propioception are just as divine! We have so many tools to learn about ourselves in today’s world and to overlook the divinity of our human architecture… Read more »

vivian

Thanks for this,
I’m always curious as to what other teachers do/practice for themselves. I remember during this past shoulders immersion this topic came up as we were discussing shoulder stand and plow pose. How some teachers still teach these poses even though they themselves do not practice them because of injuries that could have arose from postures such as these. Not that you should only teach what you can do but that the students’ safety always comes first and that we do our best to educate ourselves as teachers.

Allison Shapiro

This is a lot to do in one day – especially with the costume changes! I did notice there was no vacuum, broom or dust mop used as props. Seriously, though – this is the first time I have come back from Kripalu without some sort of ache or pain. Thanks again for such a wonderful week. It (and you) was/are amazing!

Dawn McCrory

YES! Variety is the spice of life! I love your daily practice! I sprinkle my practice throughout the day with dog walks, yoga tune up® therapy balls, dynamic hip openers, squats, planks, and other fun stuff! I build my practice around my life and my life around my practice.

Kristen B.

If there is a net take away from the YTU training is that “how you do anything is how you do everything” and that “your posture follows you like a shadow.” The commitment to practice and attention to detail that Jill brings into her daily life translates into her teaching so clearly, and it really resonates with my personal healing process in that the small changes that I have made really added up to big impact. Thanks for being such an inspiration Jill!

Ariana

I love this inspiring portrait of Jill’s daily practice. Thanks for sharing it. It serves as an important reminder that the simple actions matter the most and variety is also extremely beneficial.

Michelle B

Over the past few days in class, I’ve learned that the smallest movements can have a great impact. I’m more aware of how I’m sitting, standing, and my posture. I’m trying to incorporate the “every movement counts” into my daily life now.

Tim R

Jill, thanks for the great blog post, and awesome demonstration pictures as well! I just started taking some yoga classes at my gym a few weeks ago (after talking about it for years) and I already feel much better physically. Anyway, I’m still quite sloppy with my poses, but you’ve got me inspired to concentrate on the quality of my workout. I’ll be working on that aspect in my next class.

Luciana Gorga

This is a very important post. It is essential to rebalance the body every day and practice what a person teaches to improve their teaching and their sensations and awareness. Thanks also Jill for all the information and classes in Toronto Yoga Conference. You’re a fantastic Teacher!.

Morenike Allen-Romain

My daily practice is developing and I love how interconnected your practice is to the rest of your life. Your asymmetrical twist triangle with a block looks flawless how do you keep your hips rotated?

LT

For me, it’s recently become increasingly difficult to maintain a daily practice. This is one thing I need to work on – and seeing your post helped me to realize daily yoga doesn’t always need to come in the form of a 1 hour class. Thanks!!

Emma

This was really great to see Jill’s personal routine. It helped to put everything into perspective and remind myself that it is so imperative to practice what we preach. Also, love the dogs! I’m a huge animal lover 🙂

Claire Miller Murphy

Awesome post Jill. I am back to my personal practice and realizing more than ever that its about impeccable form when teaching- that is a practice in itself and an even more challenging one because you are so focused on students. Also, the Un-doing- the counter posses, stretches and rolling out/massage that is needed for those of us teaching all day long!
And of course- walking my puppy is bliss and some cardio too! Plus I am taking dance class again- YAY!

Thanks Jill!
Claire

Hilda

This was a wonderful read; it is so true. We forget that our lives require so much of our body’s effort to stand or sit upright and mindfully.
I love that you find the time to do all these wonderful activities despite your busy life and that each activity is so special.
Keeping this constant balance is a challenge; thanks for your inspiration.

Yelimar

Loved to read your self-care routine. I miss having you here everyday leading us into our practice. I am in a bit of withdrawal. Since our training I’ve been using the balls almost every day but I miss being in class. I’ve become a part of your in-home program. It’s the next best thing along with my other vids. It makes may body happy. Need to keep up my daily morning routine. I don’t want to slip back into old habits! This was a lovely reminder. Sending you love from NYC! XO

ShellY Zagor

Looking at this blog, I am deeply inspired. I love the diversity of your practice with the use of different props and friends! And, as I have a puppy, the walks and playtime are a big part of my day- meditate with puppy!
Thank you.

Basak Gunaydin

This is very inspiring for me as an aspiring yoga teacher, to be aware of my body and my movements in my daily life and having the fun aspect of exercise be present at all times!

katie

This is a great post! I love that “every movement counts” and the “small things”. I have a scoliosis/high hip pattern that I must work with on a daily basis and I’ve modified it alot but these things I’ve got to keep in mind always or that bad pattern will creep back in. Every movement really does count!