Yoga Tune Up: Tension Tune Down Series "Mini Series"

Jill Miller
Year Released: 2009

Categories: Yoga
- Audio Workout

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I’m reviewing this workout after doing the mini series and the bonus feet and calves series several times each.

General workout breakdown: This 25-min. CD has two parts: one is an almost 12-min. compilation of exercises from Jill’s other four TTD series (Upper Back & Neck, Rotator Cuff, Lower Back, Hips & Buttocks), and one is an approximately 12-min. bonus focusing on the feet and calves.
The Mini Series has one exercise from each of the other TTDs; Jill has rerecorded the tracks, so they’re not lifted directly from the other CDs. (This means you have to put up with her saying, “If you want more, check out the full CD” at the end of each segment, though.) The practice begins with the balls along the upper ridge of the upper shoulder (a track found on both the Rotator Cuff and Upper Back & Neck series, actually, although Jill uses the phantom arm movements from the Rotator Cuff version here), moves onto the middle of the upper back, mows through tension in the lower back, and ends with some focused attention on the piriformis and gluteus muscles.
The bonus begins standing with work on pressure points along the bottom of the feet, which will help relieve tension in the plantar fascia, as well as eversion and inversion of the ankles, which helps strengthen them. You then sit on the mat for drumming your calves while pointing and flexing your foot as if it’s on the accelerator before kneeling with the balls between your calves and thighs. Jill has you stand “in poise” before and afterwards to feel how the work on your ankles and calves affects your balance, your standing posture, and even the way you move around.

Level: I’d recommend this to people who have enough body awareness and anatomy knowledge to feel comfortable working with audio-only media; yoga experience 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 ˝” rubber balls). It’s worth getting the ones Jill sells (or, if you can find them more easily, 2 ˝” 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.
Jill recommends two blocks at a wall for the lower back segment; if you don’t have blocks, thick books (phone books, that discount complete works of Shakespeare, etc.) will do. You can try this on your mat without blocks and the wall, too.

Space Requirements: enough room to lie down with limbs extended. You’d be best served with some space along the bottom of a wall for the lower back segment and a wall or another sturdy object (like a tall chair) you can use for balance if you need it during the bonus segment, too.

CD Notes: This CD contains 13 tracks, with each exercise in its own track. It is worth noting that not all tracks contain exercises, however: track 1 is an introduction to the series, track 6 is a rest in half corpse, tracks 7 & 8 set up the calves & feet bonus, and track 13 concludes this portion of the practice with a return to standing to observe how things have changed.
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 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, the Mini Series and the bonus work equally well as stand alone practices, as part of a warm-up, or after your main workout or practice.

Like Sharon I wasn’t sure if this one would be redundant since I have the other CDs in this series, but I agree that it’s worth it for the feet & calves bonus alone. So those of you who are thinking of using this as a trial run of Jill’s stuff shouldn’t hesitate that you’ll have wasted your money if you decide to buy all of her others afterwards, because chances are you too will keep it just for this part.
Unlike Sharon, I’ve never done that sort of footwork before, but now that I have I’m very glad this has been brought to my attention. The calves & feet bonus seems like it would be great for anyone who’s on his or her feet all day, but let me tell you hikers that your feet will love you for doing this after scampering over rocky trails.
I have used the first part for a quickie when I didn’t feel like doing a full TTD party (my term for when I run through all of the TTD practices in one go); it’s great after lifting weights or helping friends move or even sitting in a chair for too long.

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

Instructor Comments:
Jill’s instruction and enunciation are both clear. 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 (like telling you that one position is where the inside seam of your jeans pocket would be). 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.