Yoga Tune Up: Post Athletic Stretch Routines

Jill Miller
Year Released: 2010

Categories: Athletic Stretch , Sports Specific Training , Yoga

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Iím reviewing this workout after doing the routines at least half a dozen to a dozen times each.

General workout breakdown: Beth has already described the DVD itself and the individual practices well. Iíll just add a few comments about the practices in general:
- These are all premixes of individual poses rather than flowing sequences. Even the transitions are separately filmed poses. Fortunately the editing is rather smooth. That said, be prepared to change positions with some frequency; Jill is more interested in sequencing poses to accomplish the opening, strengthening, or ability to achieve a pinnacle pose that sheís looking for than in grouping all of the standing work together and all of the floor work together.
- Remarkably only a few asanas Ė other than tadasana, balasana, ardha savasana, savasana, and the transitions Ė appear in more than one segment. I think one appears in three different practices, but the others only appear in two. Each routine feels distinct. Although they tend to have the same basic focal points Jillís approach is a little different in each practice, and even someone whoís not into the individual sports like me can see how the poses are meant to complement the activity in question.
- I agree that some poses feel rushed or at least that Jill doesnít linger in them as long as she could (although there are a few where Iím totally fine with that). Once you know the routines better you can move straight into the poses and stay a few seconds longer, which sort of helps. At least she doesnít rush the transitions between poses.

And here are some thoughts on each practice:
- Running Ė This one won me over instantly because itís the least vigorous and most relaxing. Itís also a versatile segment good for just about any lower body-heavy activity; Iíve done it after long walks, hikes, other forms of cardio, and weight sessions, particularly ones focusing on the lower body. Iíll spend all day walking on concrete and cobblestones, pull out this segment plus some of Jillís Tension Tune Down ball work for the feet and calves (on her Quickfix Rx DVD and her TTD Mini Series CD) before bed, and then wake up the next day with fresh legs and happy feet. Thatís what this DVD is about: undoing the damage of repetitive motion and restoring the body to a naturally healthy state.
- Cycling Ė This is becoming my most used segment because I do it after my weekly spin class, and the combo is fantastic, freeing me from stiffness and even soreness. My only complaint is that it doesnít do much to eliminate the saddle soreness biking newbies experience, so Iíll have to toughen up on my own. :-p Iíd also recommend this one to anyone who spends a lot of time sitting, even if itís in a car or at a desk rather than on a bike, because it helps to undo upper and lower body tension related to long periods of sitting, especially if youíre leaning forward while seated.
- Swimming Ė This is a surprisingly vigorous segment. As a non-swimmer Iíve found this one useful to counteract weight workouts that are overzealous on the shoulders, particularly ones led by instructors who insist on shaping up the front while forgetting the back. I suspect swimmers who jump out of the pool and then tackle this one can sympathize when I say that doing this right after strength workouts is somewhat torturous and not exactly fun, but afterwards the shoulders and upper back especially feel much more stable. Iíve also used this one as part of a warm-up, too.
- Tennis Ė I like this segment a lot, too, and find it kind of fun, as thereís a playful element to a number of the poses here (and youíll need to be able to laugh at yourself when you try open sesame for the first time, because it may not go quite as smoothly as Jillís). This is another great one for desk jockeys and those who are more sedentary than theyíd like because it has some great shoulder, chest, and hip openers.
- Golf Ė This is another one with some good shoulder and hip work (the half moon rises are particularly intriguing and great for hip mobility), but for some reason this one doesnít call out to me as much. Perhaps itís because the twisted triangles are tricky for me.
- Pre-Athletic Warm-up Ė This one will warm you up by increasing blood flow, improving range of motion, waking up your core muscles, and even getting your heart rate up. Itís not a barrel of fun, but it is effective and efficient (the Menís Health / Womenís Health Big Book of Exercises features a blueprint for designing your own dynamic warm-up, and Jill covers pretty much all of the moves in significantly less than half the number of exercises the book recommends). I will say that when I was doing this and other dynamic warm-ups before my cardio and weight sessions with foam rolling, static stretching, and yoga afterward I saw significant Ė for me Ė gains in flexibility plus avoided injuries during a relatively intense rotation, so I think thereís something to this push for swapping out dynamic moves for static stretches in warm-up.

Level: Iíd recommend this to people with some prior yoga and/or similar experience, some preexisting strength and flexibility, and decent body awareness, but you certainly donít need to be all that advanced. Jillís work can be strong at times, so proceed at your own pace, do the best you can with your current abilities, and be careful if you have any physical issues.
Iíve been practicing yoga for a long time (almost 8 years now) and still have some strength and flexibility limits plus one or two physical issues. I found these all doable, although some poses are rather challenging and vigorous for me. As you might have guessed from my comments above, Iím not a runner, cyclist (well, unless you count my attempts at spin class), swimmer, tennis player, or golfer, but I still find these routines useful and helpful.

Class: Jill alone, instructing live (although every once in a while she uses voiceover instead, like during savasana).

Music: none.

Set: neutral-colored pleasant living room-looking set.

Production: clear picture and sound, helpful and non-distracting camera angles.

Equipment: Youíll want a mat, 2 blocks (substitute: thick books, a thick folded towel), a strap (substitute: an old tie, a dressing gown belt, a long towel), and maybe also a blanket (substitute: towel, another mat).
Jill does all routines barefoot.

Space Requirements: You should have enough room to lie down with your arms and legs extended and move your legs out to each side. You may need to clear additional room for the monk walks in the warm-up practice, although you can do them around your yoga mat (which is what I do).
Youíll also need access to a wall (substitute: a closed door, the straight back of a sofa or chair).

DVD Notes: The routines are chaptered by pose, so you can skip an exercise that bothers you or repeat one that feels extra good.
This is a pressed DVD.
This DVD is in widescreen format. If your a/v set-up isnít currently set to accommodate that, you may notice the text will be clipped on the menu screen, but youíll be able to see Jill during the routines, which is what really counts.

Comments: You may have to be willing to give this DVD a chance (although I recognize that Jill and her stuff isnít for everyone), because it might not be quite what you expect or want, especially if what you expect or want is a series of relaxing, flexibility-focused athletic stretches you can flop on the floor and do after a hard sports session. Instead, PAS gives you intelligently designed yoga-based routines that will help keep you active longer by improving your flexibility, strength, and range of motion. Once I let go of what I had in mind when I ordered this DVD and let it be what it is, I started to like it a lot. In fact, I appreciate the practices more every time I do them.

Iím a big Jill fan and have most of her media. This and Quickfix Rx get a lot of play because theyíre so much easier for me to fit into my schedule. Her Yoga Links are just too long for me to get in with any regularity, for example. One big plus for me with regards to PAS is that these practices donít just focus on one body part, as most of Jillís other media does; you get full body routines in about 20 min.
I donít really have anything else exactly like this on my shelves. I have tried lots of yoga media and have a number of therapeutic yoga DVDs, and Iíve recently acquired a joint mobility DVD. Still, nothing else I know of combines yoga with pre-hab / re-hab like Jillís stuff.

As you probably gathered from Bethís review, a number of poses particular to Jillís repertoire reappear here, so those who also have most to all of her media will recognize most of the individual asanas. I donít think thatís not necessarily a bad thing; because theyíre rearranged here, they feel fresh to me.
A note to those who have or who are considering Jillís Yoga Tune Up Yoga At Home programs: youíll see many of the same poses in both PAS and YTUAH. In fact, the clips that comprise the premixes on the At Home DVD-Rs and PAS DVD were filmed at the same time and in many cases appear in both (and this goes a long way to explaining why there are no specific mentions of specific sports or activities here, since Jill uses these segments in other programs not necessarily aimed at athletes). I agree with those who recommend PAS as a trial run for those who arenít that familiar with Jill who are thinking about the At Home program. I will note that Iím currently working through Level 2, which I find more accessible than the PAS routines; both are doable to me, but YTUAH Level 2 is less challenging.

Instructor Comments:
Jill is a great teacher, and I always find her approach informative. She demonstrates an intelligent, intuitive knowledge of anatomy, particularly muscles in motion. I appreciate that she uses the technical anatomical terms rather than cutesy ones; Iíve learned more about anatomy, particularly how it relates to my own body, from using her stuff than from some anatomy books I have. Her respect for and internalizing of yoga and similar systems (sheís also well versed in dance, Pilates, and some bodywork programs) is apparent, and yet she manages to make her practice her own without being different for the sake of being different. There is real method behind her madness (although sheís not mad!).
Jill is always focused on teaching but still has a warm, encouraging, and lively personality. I also like Jillís real world images and quirky sense of humor: she tells you to find the ďcomfortable amount of discomfort,Ē and in one pose she tells you to avoid letting your spine do the Mary Lou Retton. Her language is straightforward, although, as mentioned, she uses scientific names for body parts, Sanskrit names for some poses, and the occasional more metaphoric phrase. She speaks in a more conversational way here, as if sheís leading you in a small class or workshop, and she is very good at engaging the viewer through the camera so you feel like youíre working there with her.
Jill cues for her right and left, rather than the viewerís. She usually faces the viewer, although once or twice she turns around for a pose done along the back side of the body to give you a better view or do the ones on the floor with her side to the camera. Her instruction is clear enough that I donít have an issue with the lack of mirrored cuing; I find it easy enough either to follow her verbal instructions or mirror her movements.



According to the DVD case, these new routines from yoga instructor Jill Miller are designed to "Improve Performance - Recover Faster - Prevent Injuries - Be Your Best." Although targeted towards athletes and broken down by specific individual sports (see below), these routines are really appropriate for anyone looking for short, yoga-inspired practices that will assist in improving flexibility and preventing injury.

Despite the "Athletic" part of the name, these definitely ARE yoga practices. Jill uses Sanskrit names for many of the poses (although she generally repeats the English name as well), and even the transitions between exercises are mindful--pausing in mountain pose before moving to the next standing pose, remaining briefly in dandasana, child's pose, or crocodile before coming to lying, etc. Jill also includes various "mini vinis," or brief, often quickly moving vinyasa sequences. Given all of the above, I think that this DVD is best suited to those with at least some prior yoga experience.

The Main Menu of the DVD offers a brief Introduction by Jill, a Play All option (which doesn't really make much sense given how the DVD is designed to be used), and then lists the five routines plus the Bonus segment individually. I have broken down each segment in some detail as described below.

Running (19.5m)
This routine starts with standing postures: tadasana, runner's lunge, revolved side angle, and wide-angle standing forward bend with the hands clasped. Jill then performs an asymmetrical forward bend (1 foot on a block) and down dog with the heels touching. Next, she moves to a wall for 1/2 happy babies pose and 1/2 apanasana. Jill follows with the reclined leg series, performing all three variations of reclined leg pose (a strap is optional here). She concludes the segment with a brief (1.5 minute) savasana.

Cycling (20.5m)
After starting in tadasana, Jill begins this practice with prasarita lunges combined with a shoulder roll. She then moves to the floor for a dynamic version of revolved stomach pose #2. This is followed by bridge pose and then leg stretch #3. Coming to a face-down position, Jill demonstrates cobra with a block between the thighs. Next is "open sesame," a nice chest opener which Jill has performed in previous DVDs, and then Jill flips back over for leg stretch #2. Coming back to standing, Jill performs "twister," a twisting version of wide angle pose. She returns to the floor for equal angle/lateral splits, wide-legged lunge, and leg stretch #3 with the buttocks on a block. A short (1.5 minutes) savasana finishes the practice.

Swimming (20.5m)
Jill begins here with shoulder strap opener #1 (fans of Erich Schiffmann will be familiar with this!); this is followed by an easy wide-legged forward bend and dolphin pose. Next comes an eagle squat mini vini, stepping from side-to-side in eagle, reversing the cross of the arms and the legs. Jill then performs a standing posture, twisted side angle, before moving into another mini vini, the table mini vini (moving from table pose to an abs tucked position). She then comes down to the floor for locust, face-up pigeon, side-bending head-to-knee, and finally, double pigeon. A short (1.5 minutes) savasana concludes this practice, which was one of my favorites.

Tennis (20.5m)
This routine begins in a lying position for the "half happy baby mini vini"--here Jill has you move between a 1/2 happy baby position, reclined leg stretch #2, and reclined leg stretch #3. This is followed by a nicely held frog pose and then upright runner's lunge with a side bend. Standing poses include triangle and eagle, and then it's back to the floor for "holy cow at the troth," a shoulder stretch performed with a block between the hands (Jill also does this move in her Yoga Link Shoulder Shape-Up DVD). She comes up to seated for a 1-legged seated twist and then returns to the floor for reverse crucifix and open sesame. For the final savasana, Jill has you touch your index finger and tune into your heart beat. This practice was another favorite!

Golf (19m)
Jill begins here on the floor in child's pose; this is followed by gate pose. She then instructs "bridge arms" in a standing position. Continuing with the shoulder work, she performs shoulder strap opener #1. This is followed by triangle pose, with the modification that the feet remain parallel. You'll then need two blocks, first for the moon rises mini vini, where you lift in and out of half moon (with the hip) while the hands remain on blocks, and twisting triangle. This is followed by a brief standing backbend, and then EXTREME twisting triangle, where the feet are positioned in opposite corners of the mat. The finishing seated postures include seated wide angle with a twist and full seated forward bend with the toes out. Jill concludes with a short (1.5 minutes) savasana. The pace of this practice seemed a bit quicker than the others to me, and for that reason, this one wasn't a favorite.

Bonus Stretch: Pre-Athletic Warm Up (11.5m)
In the DVD insert, Jill notes that dynamic stretching is the best way to warm-up prior to any type of sports or workout. Here she begins on the floor in ardha savasana (half-relaxation), coming from this position into moving bridge. Returning to standing, she performs a "pranic bath," a breathing exercise which involves the arms flowing around the head (this is another exercise that appears in her prior media). Next are "monk walks," aka walking lunges. Coming back down to the floor, Jill performs bicycles and revolved stomach pose #3. She finishes standing with a grapevine crawl, sort of a lunge side-to-side while grapevining the feet.

Instructor Comments:
Jill is extremely likable--warm, friendly, and down-to-earth. Her knowledge of the body in general and particular anatomy in particular is admirable; I would love to take a class with her! However, I wouldn't necessarily recommend this DVD to someone who is new to Jill's work, as she moves rather quickly at times in these practices, and she does not mirror cue.

Beth C (aka toaster)