Coregeous

Jill Miller
Year Released: 2012

Categories: Abs/Core , Balance/Medicine/Mini/Stability Ball, Total Body Workouts, Yoga



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Coregeous is the latest Yoga Tune-Up (YTU) release from Jill Miller. (I may be wrong about this, but I don't think she uses the word "yoga" in the entire DVD--perhaps she is trying to appeal to a wider audience?) As with Miller's other YTU DVDs, Coregeous features Miller teaching alone, mostly instructing line (although she incorporates some brief voiceovers here and there). There are seven practices on this DVD, four "main" practices and three "bonus" practices. Each practice can be used as a stand-alone workout, but the main practices in particular build on each other--i.e., Miller advises that you shouldn't proceed to the next segment until you are comfortable with the preceding one. Finally, Miller utilizes a variety of props, including her YTU balls ("Pinky" balls are a good substitute for these; tennis balls are less ideal but will work), a yoga block, a small squishy ball (sometimes called a Pilates ball), and a larger physio or stability ball.

For each of the practice segments, Miller provides a brief introduction (1-2 minutes), then moves on to the workout. The entire DVD is very well-chaptered, so once you have watched them, you can easily skip the intros. I have broken down each segment in detail below. (Note: the times I listed are without the introductions included.)

MAIN SEGMENTS
1. Core RE-form (13.5 minutes)
This section uses the YTU balls for a massage designed to increase access to the breath. I've had a lot of prior exposure to Miller's ball work (both via her Tension Tune Down CD series and her prior DVDs), so I wasn't expecting to find much new here, but to my surprise, I loved this section. The exercises included a single ball diagonal roll to address trapezius tension; Erector Equalizer, a double-ball roll of the upper back; Rhomboid Wringer, which uses the balls in a "x" shape to get at these muscles; Lower Back Lengthener, a double-ball roll of the upper back; and finally, a wonderful Quadratus lumborum massage using the ball on top of the block (ouch!, but in a good way).

2. Get COREganized (12 minutes)
This section centers around opening the psoas muscle at the front of the hips. Miller alternates reclined leg lifts with what she calls "Magician's Assistant" (MA) work: you lie with your sacrum on the block (both on your back and on either side) so that you are in effect "floating" like a magician's assistant. The first set of leg lifts consists of slowly lower each leg in turn to the floor, followed by MA work involving simply hovering. Next, both the leg lifts and the MA work become more dynamic, adding movement. For the third and last round, Miller performs the leg lifts on the block, adding in a twist; the MA moves include leg circles and a side reach. Miller finishes with a back stretch which she calls "half-frog, half-cobra." She definitely cautions you to make sure that there is no tightness in your lower back while doing this stretch before moving on to the next section.

3. InCOREporate (19 minutes)
Miller uses the squishy ball for this segment. She begins lying back over the ball, placing the ball between the shoulder blades and performing a small backbend. From this position, she moves into intercostal crunches. Changing to like face down over the ball (ball above belly button), Miller moves through locust backbends,adding in arm movements and eventually a massage. (Note: she suggests that you might want to do the bonus Abdominal Massage segment prior to this one.) Next comes a reverse spinal twist backband (this is somewhat similar to the "Reverse Crucifix" that Miller includes on some of her other DVDs). She finishes by addressing the shoulder core via "Mega Plank," a held plank with shoulder protraction.

4. Get COREgeous (19 minutes)
Miller describes this as an "advanced series" which alternates between "hard" work and "soft" moves. She utilizes the physio ball here. She begins with the feet on the ball in Mega Plank, adding in a rotation; this is followed by resting in sphinx. She then performs Mega Plank a second time, adding in a backwards twist. This is followed by a "Walk the Plank" move (again with the feet on the ball) which evolves into swimming. Another rest follows, a squatting backbend over the ball. Miller returns to a second round of Walk the Plank, adding in a rotation and an abduction of the top leg. To rest, she performs child's pose on the ball, knee circles, and a full back bend over the ball. The next move is a pendulum twist performed on the knees. After side stretching over the ball, Miller repeats the pendulum twist, this time with the feet rather than the knees on the ball (very advanced!). She concludes with another full backbend over the ball.

BONUS SEGMENTS
1. Tubular Core Activation (5 minutes)
This section is a primer on how to hold the core muscles in the proper position for performing all of the above exercises. Miller offers several different techniques to get the proper feel for this; I found her advice to "cough without coughing" to be the most helpful.

2. Abdominal Massage (8.5 minutes)
For this section, Miller lies face down over the squishy ball, starting with the area between the ribs, moving to belly button level, and ending with just below, rolling out each of this areas to massage them. As mentioned above, she recommends using this segment prior to the InCOREporate if feeling at all tight in this area.

3. Abdominal Churning-Nauli (11.5 minutes)
In this last section, Miller offers techniques for learning nauli, an advanced abdominal exercise. She begins with simply learning how to empty the belly of breath, using bridge lifts (performed lying on the floor) and a similar move in a standing position. She also talks about learning how to isolate the rectus abdominus before building up to full nauli.


Those who are familiar with Miller's prior work will recognize a number of the moves included here from her prior DVDs (e.g., the "bridge lifts" were also featured in her Core Integration). Despite this, the work in this DVD feels completely fresh and new. There were several things that I particular liked about this DVD: 1) the attention to the ENTIRE core, including stretching the psoas (an important muscle for low back pain) and focusing on the breath throughout, 2) the use of props, which allows for a different experience with each segment, and 3) the excellent chaptering of the DVD, allowing users to to select from the available options as needed.

Instructor Comments:
I really like Jill: I appreciate her combination of knowledge/expertise and down-to-earth style. Although I don't mind the title of this DVD, I could have done without her extending the play on words to terms such as "coreso" (for torso), which she unfortunately uses throughout the DVD.

Beth C (aka toaster)

04/01/2012

I’ve liked the core work in Jill Miller's DVD programs for years. This new release is the best presentation of her method I’ve seen, with innovative moves and honed focus. It's so smart, concise and to the point.

I hope someone else comes along with a full breakdown on this DVD. I'm very short of time (and I'm a terrible writer), so here are some brief notes covering my first (and second, and third) impressions:

When Jill talks about the core, she doesn’t mean just the abdominal muscles. She's talking about relation of the psoas with the respiratory diaphragm as well as the obliques, rectus abdominis, lower back, well, you get the idea…

The main workout is in 4 progressive sections (more or less 20 minutes each). However, I can see them functioning as stand-alones once familiarity with the moves and sequences is developed. (I’m very clumsy, so some of the moves took a second, or third, look)

Section 1: Small-ball massage (introduction to the anatomical context), starting with the upper traps and working down to the lumbar spine and the quadratus lumborem, where the key core connections are located. (Jill’s tune up balls, or the pinky balls, or even tennis balls will serve, although the rubbery alternatives form a better grip with the skin.)

Section 2: (the organization/”tubularization” sequence) involves integration of the psoas with the other core muscles (stabilization) – eloquent oblique references. And there’s some shoulder opening/engagement as well, with a unique reclining mat pull (hard to describe but very effective for tight shoulders). The magician’s assistant series is a lot of fun, and tough -- love the use of the block to support the pelvis, bringing balance into the stabilization process. I used the round block Jill sold with her Strength DVD (Gaiam?)and it was perfect. A regular block would of course work just fine.

Section 3: Lower back “incorporation" with a squishy ball, including locust, ending in a moment-of-truth megaplank. (Lower back is so often neglected in core programs -- not here.)

Section 4: The stability ball segment is the first big ball material I’ve liked in years and years. So smart and purposeful. The prep work for the ball is some very interesting tango planks. Love these and I’ve never seen them before. I literally had to dust off my ball, so I think it will take a few tries to find my ball legs again. But I’ve already located my ball core.

The three “extras” are surprisingly helpful (5 – 10 min, each): tubular core activation, abdominal massage (relating diaphragm to transverse abdominis), abdominal churning (if you’re close to nauli, this segment will definitely move you forward).

The negatives (and there aren’t many): I don't like some of the patter: "coreso" for example. And I have a hard time bringing myself to type the title. I'm way too edgy an old broad to have much tolerance for cutsey. But, that's a really small issue, all things considered and I am cranky by nature.

So glad to have something I can grow with. I've been doing various “ab” routines for over 30 years, and although I get lots of good work in my regular yoga classes (which tend to be core-centric), I'm delighted to see some media that gives me somewhere to go. For me, this one’s a winner.

Instructor Comments:
Jill is very down to earth here. She knows what she's talking about and it shows,and presents her material particularly well and clearly. She demonstrates the sequences with impressive precision and grace, and she's not afraid to let her sense of humor show.

Sharon Frost

03/27/2012