Yoga Tune Up: Tension Tune Down Series “Rotator Cuff”

Jill Miller
Year Released: 2009

Categories: Special Health Conditions , Yoga
- Audio Workout

Video Fitness reviews may not be copied, quoted, or posted elsewhere without the permission of the reviewer

Show oldest reviews first

I’m reviewing this workout after doing it several times.

General workout breakdown: See Beth and Sharon’s great breakdown of this 20-min. CD. I’ll just add that Jill focuses on the four rotator muscles – supraspinatus, infraspinatus, Teres minor, and subscapularis – plus adds a little bonus work along the chest (I believe she focuses on the pectoralis minor).
At first I wasn’t sure about Jill’s more freeform approach to the arm movements, as I like the structured, precise sets done in Upper Back & Neck. But I see now that there’s a method to the madness, if you will: Jill wants you to find your own personal “hot spots,” and she encourages you to experiment to see what feels good where so that you can get the most benefit out of the program.

Level: I’d recommend this to people who have enough body awareness and anatomy knowledge to feel comfortable working with audio-only media; yoga knowledge is a bonus. You don’t need to be particularly “advanced” in anything or have amazing flexibility or strength to do this series at all.

Music: none.

Production: clear sound.

Equipment: 2 Tension Tune Down balls (2 ½” rubber balls). It’s worth getting the ones Jill sells (or, if you can find them more easily, 2 ½” Hi-Bounce Sponge Pinky Balls, which is what my original set from Jill are) rather than using a tennis ball. Although the same size, the denser and grippier nature of the TTD balls will make the exercises just that much more effective.
You may also find a block, pillow, or folded blanket / towel useful.

Space Requirements: enough space to lie down with limbs extended.

CD Notes: As Beth mentions, the CD has 8 chapters, with each area of work featured in its own track; note that the first track is Jill’s general series introduction.
The CD comes with a fold out chart with arrows pointing on images of Jill to the proper location of the balls for each track. Jill refers often to this chart, which can be awkward as you fiddle around with it, the balls, and your clothing (especially if you’ve removed your eyeglasses or contacts and dimmed the lights – and have to fight off a cat who can’t decide whether she’d rather steal the bouncy balls from you or shred the paper you’re waving around).

Comments: As with all of the TTD series, Rotator Cuff works equally well as a stand alone practice, as part of a warm-up, or after your main workout or practice.

As with anything, check with a qualified medical or therapeutically trained professional if you have a serious medical condition, like a rotator cuff tear. If you experience more than a “comfortable amount of discomfort,” Jill reminds you to stop and seek such help out.

I don’t have any rotator cuff issues myself, but between my lifestyle (hunched over computers and books) and my regular workouts (particulary heavy weights) I tend to store tension in my upper back and shoulders. I find this series a nice complement to Jill’s Upper Back and Neck offering, which focuses much more along the spine.

Instructor Comments:
Jill’s instruction and enunciation are both clear. I like that she uses the scientific names for bones, muscles, tendons, etc., yet still takes some time to explain what they are in normal phrases, so to speak (and without cutesy nicknames). She speaks with warmth, humor, and liveliness; she’s a little on the peppy side here, but well within my realm of tolerance. She uses straightforward language and down to earth images (for example, for one position she tells you it’s on the outside of your bikini strap where some folks can get a little pooch). She demonstrates an intelligent yet intuitive knowledge of anatomy, particularly muscles in motion. While she clearly respects yoga and similar systems with all of their traditions, she manages to make her yoga practice her own without making it feel like she’s being different for the sake of being different.



This is one of the newest releases in Jill Miller's Tension Tune-Down series, a series of yoga-based self-massage programs available from Jill's new web site, There are 8 tracks on this CD, and in the first one, Jill simple provides a general introduction to the series and using the balls. The actual practice, which is less than 18 minutes long, starts with Track 2. In this first segment, Jill has you simply lie on your back and become aware of your breath. The ball work begins using both balls to work the posterior supraspinatus. I found this segment to be fairly similar to the first track in Jill's Upper Back & Neck CD, as the balls are placed in a similar location, and Jill has you raise your pelvis to increase the intensity of the pressure on the balls (she also suggests using an option block under the pelvis if needed, which I found helpful). One difference here is that Jill adds what she calls "phantom arms"--she has you move your arms as if someone else were controlling them, moving them in whatever direction necessary to best target your tight spots. The remaining positions use one ball only, working one side of the body at a time. For Positions 2 & 3, the ball is placed directly under the shoulder blade; phantom arms again are used. Positions 4 & 5 are performed in a face-down position with the ball under the sternum. I found the placement of the ball a bit harder to intuit from this position, perhaps because this is an area of the body which is so rarely addressed in stretching. The practice concludes with a brief rest (not a true savasana) lying on the back.

Instructor Comments:
I am a big fan of Jill's; I think she has a wonderful personality and a great sense of humor (although the latter does not come through quite as well here as on her DVDs). She has an amazing knowledge of anatomy and does a great job of teaching this to others.

Beth C (aka toaster)