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To complement the MASSAGE Magazine article, “Massage + Fitness = Success—Integrate Personal Training into Your Practice,” by Vincent Cambrea, in the June 2014 issue. Article summary: Professionals with interdisciplinary skills—licenses in massage therapy and certifications from nationally accredited personal training organizations—are transforming both industries by taking bodywork to its maximum potential.

So much of fitness seems to be getting more extreme. There is pressure in our culture to stay in shape, get fit, work out, burn calories, and be cut or toned. People who do not like going to the gym for fitness workouts often feel guilty or unhappy by societal norms.

As massage therapists, our bodies are our tools. They need to be cared for and fine-tuned and not injured by doing any crazy, intense physical training. What we do in our profession already creates repetitive stress in our bodies, so going to extremes physically makes no sense. We need a way to unwind gently and free our bodies from our work patterns.

Staying fit, for a massage therapist, means keeping the body well aligned, with all the joints utilizing full range of motion; and practicing good posture while working. Also:

  • Our muscles need to be strong, toned and flexible.
  • Our breath capacity needs to be developed and utilized while working to keep us physically and mentally energized.
  • The feet, being our foundation, need to be strong and support the body correctly so there is no breakdown in the body into the feet.
  • Our hands and wrists need their own workout to stay strong and flexible.
  • We need to have a way to get our work out of our body daily so we do not build up work patterns that, down the road, will cause us pain and injury.

I developed Yamuna® Body Rolling as a way for manual therapists to be able to systematically work their anatomy in order to keep all their body parts aligned and free. We all know what our work patterns are—but while we are working, it is difficult to change them. If there is a way to undo our work patterns daily or weekly, then we can keep our individual repetitive stress patterns to a minimum and avoid breakdown.

Here is a practice from my new system called In Bed with Yamuna:

Relaxing Practice

For this practice, you will need two Yamuna balls no larger than 4 inches in diameter; In Bed With Yamuna materials (www.yamunabodyrolling.com) to learn how to work every part of your body; and time for yourself several times a week to rest and heal your body while in bed.

The practice:

  1. Lie on your back with your head resting on your pillow.
  2. Place two small Yamuna black balls, or two other balls of no more than 4 inches in diameter that are soft and yet have good resistance, side by side along each side of your tailbone.
  3. Lie back and relax. Just be. Breathe easily for several breaths
  4. Micro-move both balls up the sacrum.
  5. Stay at each point for 30 to 60 seconds until you feel your body respond.
  6. Work the balls slowly up to the top of the sacrum.
  7. Take the balls out and feel what happened.

Within seconds, you will begin to feel the sacrum and sacroiliac joints respond. Sensation develops in the area, which draws your attention to it. Your mind begins to follow the absolutely minute detail of movement and adjustments that are beginning to take place. You feel the differences between the two sides, and how the sides try to become balanced. You notice the point where the balls are, and body weight sinking into them, creating a direct link to the brain. The neuromuscular system is heightened, and the changes at that point of contact speed up. It is as though your body takes charge and begins to make the exact adjustments it needs. When you let your body do the work, it just knows.

Since we have more somatic and tactile awareness that do most people, the concept of having a way to work deep into the body, feeling all the sensation and being able to self-correct and unwind is the perfect way to stay in shape.

Yamuna Zake has educated thousands of people to achieve healthy, fully functioning bodies for more than 30 years. She is the founder and director of Yamuna® (www.yamunabodyrolling.com), a company dedicated to educating people about body structure and optimal function. Her New York, New York-based company offers classes, individual treatments, professional trainings and self-therapy products. In Bed with Yamuna is her newest work that promises even deeper self-healing.

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