Jill Miller

Muses and Meaning: An Interview with Yogi Elena Brower (Part One)

Jill Miller by Jill Miller | November 30th, 2012 | No Comments
topic: Fitness, Inspirational Media, Personal Growth, Yoga | tags: Art of Attention, asana, author, book, burning man, celebrities, Central Park, Christy Turlington, donna karan, Eiffel Tower, Elena Brower, Erica Jago, extroverts, Gwyneth Paltrow, interview, introverts, Jill Miller, MC Yogi, meaning, Michael Chichi, Muse, Ojai Yoga Crib, problems, somatic imagination, vision board, wanderlust, Xanadu, yoga instructor, yoga teacher, yoga workbook, yoga-practice

Elena Brower at Burning Man

I first met Elena Brower this October when we both presented at the Ojai Yoga Crib, although we’d been acquainted through email for about a year prior. Elena walked into the faculty dinner and seemed to carry a piece of the sun in her essence.

Now I know that might sound a bit “woo-woo,” and if you’ve been reading my blog for the past five years, you know that I am a straight shooter and tend to refrain from sharing heavy doses of mystical or esoteric phenomenon with my readers. But I tell you, I can also recognize a galvanizer when I see one, and I was immediately drawn to Elena’s intense stare, clarity of tone and poetic spirit. She’s awesome! And I am happy to now call her my friend.

So when I found out she was about to publish her very first book Art of Attention, a yoga workbook designed to inspire your yoga practice, contemplation and creativity, which she wrote with co-author Erica Jago, I wanted to have a heart-to-heart interview: teacher-to-teacher, innovator-to-innovator and woman-to-woman. Here is the result of that conversation:

Make Your Posture Perfect: Breathe Down Your Spine

Jill Miller by Jill Miller | September 13th, 2012 | 4 Comments
topic: Fitness, Yoga | tags: breath, breathe, breathing, chest breather, diaphragm, Dr. Kelly Starrett, erectors, exercise, intercostal muscles, Jill Miller, lower back, lungs, massage, muscles, posture, respiratory system, rhomboids, ribs, slouch, slump, spine, tension, trapezius, vertebrae, Yoga, Yoga Tune Up

Are you proud of your posture? Or do you feel a bit slumpy? Did your mom tell you to sit up straight? Does she still cajole you?

I’m on your mom’s side! Most people do not pay enough attention to their daily posture and everyday movement habits, and it can have long-term health consequences if left unimproved. I see postural issues daily in my Yoga Tune Up® classrooms. And as a self-proclaimed “posture princess,” I want to motivate you to make better choices to improve your carriage.

How I Lost My Voice — And Found It Again with My Own Two Hands

Jill Miller by Jill Miller | January 26th, 2012 | 2 Comments
topic: Green Living | tags: Jill Miller, laryngitis, listen to you body, losing your voice, lost voice, music, Robyn, Saturday Night Live, singing, SNL, speechless, Stockholm, stress, swedish massage, Swedish pop star Robyn, teaching, tongue massage, vocal cords, yoga class, yoga instructor, yoga teacher, Yoga Tune Up, yoga workshop, Yogayama studio

Lost VoiceLast month I spent a week in Stockholm, Sweden, teaching my Yoga Tune Up® Integrated Embodied Anatomy module to a group of future yoga teachers at Yogayama studio. I arrived in icy-cold Stockholm late at night after a 22-hour journey. When I awoke jet-lagged the next morning, I was hoarse — very hoarse. With 20+ hours of teaching ahead of me over the next four days, I was concerned. There was no way to call in a “sub.”

Don’t Get Bent Out of Shape — Open Your Hips!

Jill Miller by Jill Miller | December 19th, 2011 | No Comments
topic: Fitness, Health & Wellness, Healthy Aging, Yoga | tags: alignment, disc degeneration, flexibility, hip openers, hips, Jill Miller, leg stretches, mobility, pain, Paris Hilton, posture, spinal discs, yoga poses, Yoga Tune Up

Bent out of shapeFew things outrage me more than bad posture. I get really bent out of shape when I see people who are literally bent out of shape. It is so simple to improve your posture, and it is totally free and requires no gym membership.

Here are some Don’ts:

1. Don’t lean into one hip and cock it off to one side.

2. Don’t slump your spine like a willow tree.

3. Don’t emulate the posture of Paris Hilton.

Here are some Do’s:

1. Stand up straight.

2. Point your toes forward.

3. Have some respect for your own structure.

Okay, good, glad I got that off my chest.

Going Deeper Into a Pose? Or Going Off the Deep End?

Jill Miller by Jill Miller | October 5th, 2011 | 4 Comments
topic: Fitness, Yoga | tags: awareness, be present, exercise, Fitness, Gil Hedley, go deeper into a yoga pose, health and wellness, Jill Miller, mental fatigue, over-exertion, over-stretching, physical fatigue, soft tissue damage, somanaut, Uttanasana, work out, workout, Yoga, yoga injuries, yoga injury, yoga poses, Yoga Tune Up®

Jill Miller Standing Forward Fold

Going VERY deep into Uttanasana, a.k.a. Standing Forward Bend

Have you ever wondered what your yoga teacher means when she instructs you to “go deeper into the pose?” What exactly does this cue mean? Let’s say you’ve been holding the pose for a while, and are already shaking and trembling. Then instead of calling out a new pose, your teacher calls out “drop deeper into the pose!” You summon the courage to try it … but you aren’t exactly sure how, or what component of the pose needs further deepening.

As a teacher and a teacher trainer with more than 25 years of experience, I have seen my fair share of confused yoga students interpreting this cue in myriad ways:

Short on Time? Try This All-in-One Yoga Pose!

Jill Miller by Jill Miller | September 21st, 2011 | 22 Comments
topic: Fitness, Yoga | tags: alignment, benefits of yoga, Jill Miller, Leg Stretch #3, strength, stress, stretches, time out, Yoga, yoga block, yoga poses, Yoga Tune Up®

All-In-One Yoga Pose: Leg Stretch #3

I have been teaching yoga for 17 years, and one of the most frequent complaints I hear from students and yogaphobes alike is that they don’t have enough time for practice, so they avoid it altogether.

Avoiding a regular practice of stretching will never get you the healing benefits that come with the work. Even if you only do one pose a day, you will make a huge difference in your body, brain and well-being.

How Do You Accessorize Your Yoga Poses?

Jill Miller by Jill Miller | September 1st, 2011 | 1 Comment
topic: Yoga | tags: awareness, balance, breath, breathe, breathing, concentraion, core, Fitness, Jill Miller, lycra, male beads, muscle tension, muscles contraction, nervous energy, nervous system, nervousness, neurological overflow, neurological phenomenon, over-exertion, overcompensate, overflow, relax, relaxation, shoulder blades, shoulders, stability, stress, Whac-A-Mole, Whack-A-Mole, working out, workout, Yoga, yoga pose, yoga poses, Yoga TuneUp

Women making faces while doing yoga

Peep into any of the thousands of yoga classes across the globe and you will find that students are donning more than just yoga outfits. In addition to the latest leggings and tank tops by Zobha, Gaiam and Alo, you’ll also find students of every age, both male and female, sporting a different kind of accessory. These, however, are not made from lycra, mala beads or precious metals, but rather from an overzealous nervous system.

Glance around the room after the teacher calls out “Twisted Half Moon” (Pavritta Ardha Chandrasana) and you’ll see students with arms akimbo, clenched toes, fingers curled and faces contorted beyond recognition. These students are “accessorizing” their poses with parts of their body that don’t actually need to be involved.

It’s Okay to Say “Namaste”

Jill Miller by Jill Miller | August 4th, 2011 | 9 Comments
topic: Fitness, Personal Growth, Yoga | tags: closure, divine, end of yoga class, greetings, honor, Jill Miller, Kundalini Yoga, love, mantras, meditation, namaste, oneness, prayer, respect, sacred, sanskrit, santa fe, the light within me, universal consciousness, Yoga, yoga instructor, yoga teacher, Yoga Tune Up®, Yoga TuneUp, yoga-practice

NamasteThe first time I took a live yoga class, at age 12 or 13, I remember hearing some strange, prayer-like, exotic word come out of my teacher’s mouth. Everyone echoed it back, and it made me uncomfortable. It didn’t stop me from going back, but I did kind of feel “left out,” as I didn’t know what they were saying, what it meant, or if it was the name of a god or other deity. Frankly, it sounded kind of religious, and I was definitely not into god-stuff at that point in my ’tweendom.

When my teacher told me what Namaste meant (“I bow to the god within you”) and how to pronounce it (Nah- Mah-Stay), it didn’t necessarily make the phrase any easier for me to embrace. But the social pressure of  “call and response” soon won me over. I attended very small classes in Santa Fe, and any non-compliant Namaste’ers would be very obvious to the teacher and other students. At first it barely rolled out of my lips, a garbled rumble of vowels with slight hiss in the middle. I had no way of knowing that a decade later, I would be the one at the front of the room offering the same salutation to my classes.

Experiencing “Yoga Block”? How to Get Out of That Pose Rut

Jill Miller by Jill Miller | June 29th, 2011 | 3 Comments
topic: Fitness, Yoga | tags: asana, barbara benagh, boredom, change, creativity, cross-training, exercise, Fitness, gabriella giubilaro, imagination, Jill Miller, Kathryn Budig, muscles, plateau, repetitive, repitition, rodney yee, routine, sequence, Triangle Pose, willy wonka, workout, Yoga, yoga block, yoga DVDs, yoga poses, yoga rut, Yoga Tune Up, Yoga Tune Up®, yoga videos, yoga-practice

Yoga block

Is your yoga practice getting a little stale? Maybe you’ve been going to the same class at the same time each week for the past year. Or perhaps you use a video — the same video — every day. If you’re finding yourself a tad uninspired to get on your mat, you might be suffering from yoga block. And I don’t mean a yoga block “prop,” although if you’re really in a rut then your practice may need a little propping up!

Loosen Up! How to Stretch Your Way to Flexibility

Jill Miller by Jill Miller | May 24th, 2011 | 6 Comments
topic: Fitness, Yoga | tags: bone spurs, collagen fibers, connective tissue, dynamic stretching, elastin fibers, fascia, flexibility, flexible, foam roller, inflammation, injuries, Jill Miller, Kelly Starrett, Kettelbell, loosen, massage, osteoarthritis, overstretching, self-massage, static stretching, stretch, stretching, Thai Massage, tight muscles, Yoga, yoga balls, yoga poses, Yoga Tune Up Therapy Ball

Flexibility yoga blog

A few months ago I wrote a blog on the perils of overstretching that seemed to strike a chord with many of my students and readers. But for every overstretched yogi or yogini out there, there are four times as many folks who are bound up and moving like the tin man! Most folks I meet want to know how they can become more flexible, not less flexible. So I dedicate this blog to all of you who wish to become more supple and mobile. Let the bending begin!