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Continuing Ed: Yamuna Body Rolling

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Yamuna Zake, creator of Yamuna Body RollingYamuna Zake, creator of Yamuna Body RollingBy Nicole Rogers

Yamuna Body Rolling™ (YBR) is named after its creator, Yamuna Zake, who developed the technique about 16 years ago as a way to reach more people with her bodywork practice and theories. Her technique uses a small, firm ball and your own body weight to release and align different areas of the body.

A jack-of-all-trades in the world of bodywork, Yamuna was a certified hatha yoga teacher by the age of 16, and as time went on she incorporated herbology and aromatherapy into her yoga practice. With the birth of her daughter in 1979, Yamuna experienced an injury to her hip. She worked hard and experimented to eventually heal herself and create Yamuna Body Logic – a hands-on treatment. For 30 years, people have flocked to her from all over the world to consult her expertise in solving structural issues.

Yamuna describes YBR as work that, “aligns and reorganizes all the body parts in an anatomically correct way. The body quickly corrects and begins to function with greater range of motion and ease.” She basically translated her hands-on technique into a method that people could use on themselves to correct their own alignment and function. The balls are designed to act the same way her hands would when working on someone. “In the beginning Yamuna Body Rolling literally just mimicked a Yamuna Body Logic session,” says Yamuna. “It has grown to be much more sophisticated. YBR can work almost all the muscles, bones and joints of the body in an extremely detailed way. I believe there is almost nothing you can not work out of your body if you know your anatomy and how to use YBR.”

With rollers and balls abounding in fitness and bodywork lately, I asked Yamuna what makes YBR unique. “What makes this work stand out from other fitness and therapeutic work is that the work begins with direct bone stimulation,” she says. “It works to correct the body anatomically. It stimulates bone, then moves into tendons and then into the body of the muscle. In most areas we work from origin to insertion because this is the way natural movement should ideally occur, except in the feet and hands.” She says tha moving through the body in this systematic way preserves the natural order of the body and stimulates the bones and other soft tissue. “The results are improved bone, muscle and skin quality as well as improved circulation,” says Yamuna.

Yamuna invited me to her New York studio to experience YBR myself. I had a knee injury at the time, and the instructor, Patricia, addressed my knee issue directly, as well as the bodies of the other people in my class. She was extremely knowledgeable about anatomy and gave me a psoas stretch that was deeper than anything I’ve experienced. I can see how YBR could be helpful with those clients who have some sort of issue that is not allowing them to get to the deep work in Pilates, and I’m optimistic that it can help me rehab my injury.

Yamuna Body Rolling Green BallTHE PILATES PERSPECTIVE
Megwyn White is a YBR practitioner currently working under Yamuna at her flagship studio in New York. After receiving her BFA from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, she spent the next 7 years focusing on yoga, Pilates and Yamuna Body Rolling. I asked her a few questions about YBR and Pilates.

Q: How did you discover Yamuna Body Rolling?
I knew of Yamuna in college around 1998 through her niece who was in the same theatre wing as me. I always admired her alignment and her body awareness but had not had an opportunity to try the technique until 5 years later after Yamuna had put out her book, The Ultimate Body Rolling Workout. I was impressed by what I read, and by this time had a better foundation for experiencing the work. I went ahead and purchased a ball and couldn’t believe the immediate results. After only about 5 minutes of the hamstring routine my leg was about an inch longer. I then began hosting workshops and studying with Master YBR practitioner Bill Takahashi in Los Angeles.

Q: Has the way you teach Pilates changed as a result of your experience with
My practice has changed immensely. I have a much stronger awareness of anatomy and looking at the body and figuring out where there are “stuck” areas. I use YBR in each of my sessions both on the mat and in combination with equipment work. I can work directly into some of the more illusive muscle groups like the transverse abdominus, illiacus and psoas to help deepen core connections. I use YBR to release muscles in a hands-on manner when I know there are disconnections. It is also a fantastic way of directing a client to experience many of the Pilates principles using the ball as a release and feedback tool. Yamuna’s foot fitness work combines well with the standing footwork on the Wunda Chair and also on the jumpboard with the Reformer, or simply as a warm-up and grounding tool at the start of a session. I can’t imagine not using YBR — because of its power to integrate and relate directly to the body’s intrinsic intelligence.

Q: How has your body changed as a result of YBR?
Because my joints are hyper-mobile I have found it difficult to get connection to the stabilizing muscles. My initial patterns caused me to rely too heavily on my hip flexors and over-engage my rectus abdominus and quadriceps muscles. The result was that my torso was pulled downward toward my pelvis and things like back extension tended to end up working muscles in my low back. After discovering YBR and incorporating it within my practice I saw my body change faster than anything I’d ever experienced. After receiving my Phase 2 certification, my clients began to notice that I was standing taller and developed a much leaner form. I have since found that I have become much stronger and work smarter and not harder and yield much better results. I find that my body is better than it has ever been and tend to “work out” much less vigorously but can perform the repertoire with more grace and ease than ever before.

Q: Do you have any client success stories that stand out?
I have had so much success with many clients. One that really stands out is a client that came to the Yamuna Studio with a serious yoga injury to her pelvis. She had been practicing vinyasa yoga about 7 days a week and was forced to stop when her hip pain became so severe. The doctors told her that she would most likely need to have a hip replacement. She came to the studio with serious misalignment issues and an even more serious fear of getting hurt again. It was through incorporating the YBR into to the Pilates practice that she was able to understand where the breakdown had occurred. I watched her, within about a year’s time, go from being very unstable in her pelvis and disconnected to much of the rest of her body to being profoundly transformed in not only her body but also her awareness to all its parts. She now practices YBR at home and has a mat Pilates practice as well. She continues to work with me and is at an intermediate level as far as Pilates goes. She is very fast now at being able to self-correct and has since developed a passion for her own body as a unified whole. She tells me that people compliment her constantly and say that she carries herself beautifully and has never looked better.

Q: Why should the Pilates community be interested in YBR?
I believe that Pilates at its core is about efficiency of movement and allowing a person to reach their own peak potential as far as optimal alignment and integrative movement patterns that stem from a strong core. YBR allows practitioners to truly teach these principles instead of getting lost in simply cueing movements that people might not initially understand because of restrictions that they might have. Instead of trying to simply master the Pilates movements in an egoic fashion, we are asking people to use the Pilates work to help them master their own bodies.


Locations: Yamuna Body Rolling trainings are offered around the world, however the top training locations are New York, Los Angeles, Vancouver and Spain. The entire training schedule can be viewed on the training page at yamunabodyrolling.com.

Structure: The following requirements are quoted from Yamuna herself, as well as the YBR website:

To become certified as a basic YBR instructor you must successfully complete Phase 1 and 2. There are 3 parts to the exam process: a written, a practical teaching and hands-on. Once certified the following are required in order for you to maintain good standing:
• Signed Independent Contractor Agreement
• Valid proof of CPR certification
• Valid proof of insurance listing YZ Studio, Inc. as an additional insured (in U.S.A. only)
• Annual membership dues
• Attend a recertification course every two years

Yamuna Foot WakersYamuna Foot WakersThere are also other Yamuna trainings: Yamuna Foot Fitness, which also has 2 parts. Part 1 teaches just the use of the Foot Wakers in rebuilding healthy foot function. Part 2 is much more in-depth and teaches a more comprehensive methodology including how to use The Foot Wakers, Foot Savers and black balls in rebuilding healthy foot function and overcoming major foot problems that people suffer from. People who just want to incorporate basic Foot fitness into their existing practices can just take Part 1 and test out.

Tuition for Phase 1 (16 hours): $550
Tuition for Phase 2 (42 hours): $1,100
Tuition for Intensive (Phase 1 & Phase 2): $1,500 plus materials fee

The cost of manuals and balls is about $165.

The Ultimate Body Rolling Workout

For more information: www.yamunabodyrolling.com

Nicole Rogers
is a Pilates instructor and writer. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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Posted on Tuesday, August 18, 2009 at 12:01PM by Registered CommenterPilates-Pro in , , | Comments1 Comment | References2 References

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    Tureya Yoga Online ( ) is probably one of the most comprehensive free online video, audio, and article databases the reviewer has found. While there are other paid services like My Yoga Online which have a wide variety of teachers and lessons, Tureya Yoga Online is a 5 Star site simply ...
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    Continuing Ed: Yamuna Body Rolling - Pilates Pro - Pilates-Pro.com: The Pulse of the Pilates Industry

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September 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLia

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