In Yoga Link | Shoulder Shape-Up: Shoulder Solutions from Hands to Heart, Jill Miller leads viewers through exercises that mobilize the shoulders from every conceivable angle and prepare the arms and shoulders for every category of asana. “The arms are like the body’s tool kit,” Jill says. “The shoulders are our physical link to implement ourselves into the world. Liberated shoulders depend on the support of a healthy upper back and a breath-loving, expansive ribcage.”
This DVD also contains a bonus “Blackberry Stretch,” to help release tension in the palms, wrists and fingers that often results from the overuse of computers, cell phones and texting devices.
Easy Access to an Ageless Art
Each DVD in the Yoga Link series targets specific regions of our bodies that, according to Jill Miller, tend to be areas of chronic weakness and congestion: "We spend too much time sitting idle at computers and in cars with poor posture. Using Yoga Link's techniques, anyone can create healthy balanced hips, shoulders, and a powerful core to break through the cycle of pain that stems from our everyday habits."
Each of the DVDs is divided into two main sections: a workshop that provides detailed instructions on all the exercises, including the use of props and adaptations, and a practice section, which provides complete practice routines that viewers can do as often as they would like. On each DVD, Jill recommends that viewers first watch the Yoga Link chapter, which provides the basis for the entire system and then the Breathing Primer, which provides essential breathing techniques that are used throughout the practices. "The Primer teaches basic breathing techniques because most people don’t breathe properly. The Primer also serves as a guided relaxation routine because often stress and emotions can affect breathing,” Jill says. “If you change how you breathe, you can change how you feel."
Highlights from this DVD include:
* • Shoulder Workshop - detailed exercise instruction (38 min)
* • Shoulder Practice - a full routine for regular practice (43 min)
* • Breathing Primer - essential breathing techniques (15 min)
* • Bonus exercises for the wrists and hands
* • English Subtitle option for all material
* • Bonus MP3s of practice for audio-only class
* Audience: Beginners to teachers
* Focus: Yoga exercises to improve shoulder function
* Intensity: Challenging strength work
* Props: Yoga mat, yoga block, staff or dowel, blanket
* Style: Dynamic and static exercises
Those new to Jill Miller and craving someone who can teach them about the way that their body moves are likely to find a new love here. Personally, I'm glad to see Miller getting the increased attention and recognition that she deserves through this new series, as she casts a unique light upon a crowded yoga media field.
"And finally, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Jill Miller's Yoga Link series in general and this DVD in particular...few other yoga teachers will challenge you to explore your body in such an intense yet accessible manner"
-- Beth Cholette, Ph.D., Metapsychology Today
"Of all the joints, the shoulder is one of the most complicated, easily injured, and oft complained of. Here Southern California yoga teacher Jill Miller offers a a tune-up for the shoulders "from hands to heart."
The DVD is divided into three sections. There's a 16-minute primer on pranayama (breathing techniques), a 49-minute "shoulder shape-up" workshop and a 43-minute practice. The workshop explains all the ranges of motion of the shoulder (flexion, extension, elevation, depression, internal and external rotation, and detraction) and breaks down Miller's sequences in detail.
The workshop also serves as a kind of prelude to the practice, which consists of around 20 different exercises with engaging names like Pin the Arms on the Yogi, Holy Cow at the Trough, and the world-famous Jane Fonda Light Bulb Exercise. These and surprising variations got me thinking and practicing outside the usual box. If you don't have time to do a whole sequence, check out Miller's short stretches (one to three minutes) for your thumbs, palms, wrists, forearms, and shoulders."
-- Richard Rosen, Yoga Journal
This DVD is part of the new Yoga Link series offered by Pranamaya.com. The instructor for this series is Jill Miller, who
had previously created her own self-
produced video series called Yoga Tune
Up. This new series from Pranamaya
incorporates many aspects of Miller's
prior work but adds excellent production
values plus a variety of additional
workout and DVD options. For starters, there are two
main aspects to this DVD, the Shoulder Workshop, in
which Miller uses live instruction to break down the
individual moves in great detail, and the Shoulder
Practice, which Miller presents the same exercises via
voiceover for a more flowing practice experience. Also
included is a 16-minute Breath Primer: this same
segment appears on all three of the DVDs in the Yoga
Link series, and it offers an opportunity to obtain
detailed instruction on the types of pranayama, or yogic
breathing, which Miller utilizes in these practices.
The Shoulder Workshop includes a 38-minute
session plus 11 minutes of Shoulder "Extras." The
workshop itself focuses on the 12 directions of shoulder
movement (a brief primer on this precludes the
workshop), with exercises on Flexion/Extension,
Elevation/Depression, Internal/External Rotation,
Protraction/Retraction, and Detraction. Starting from
the warm-ups, Miller introduces exercises that are as
unique in their ways of targeting the body as they are
in their fanciful names (from "Jane Fonda Light Bulb
Exercise" to "Pin the Arms on the Yogi" to "Holy Cow at
the Troth"). She concludes the workshop by putting all
of the various directions of movement together for a
Dolphin/Down Dog sequence. The Shoulder Extras
which follow include short (1-3 minutes) stretches for
the forearms, wrists, palms, thumbs, and shoulders;
these exercises can be performed virtually anywhere.
Miller's advanced knowledge of anatomy and human
movement shines through her teaching, and her
easygoing, down-to-earth style allows her to connect
with her students in a straightforward manner.
At 43 minutes, the Shoulder Practice is actually
slightly longer than the Workshop, as it includes a full
number of repetitions for all the exercises. Although
Miller instructs via voiceover here, she still offers plenty
of cues on breathing and especially form. As
mentioned above, she performs all the same exercises
as in the workshop, and so she uses the same props as
well (yoga mat, 1-2 blocks, dowel, blanket, and table).
The DVD case rates the intended audience for this
practice as "beginners to teachers," but I think that
those new to yoga are likely to be intimidated by the
level of flexibility demanded by many of the
movements. Miller does frequently reminds viewers that
they don't need to look like her; she encourages each
individual to go at their own pace and to respect their
own limits. But even experienced yoga practitioners like
myself are likely to feel a bit daunted at times, as I did
when I attempted Miller's "1/4 Urdva Danurasana at the
Wall": although I can attain a poor-man's version of
urdhva danurasana (upward bow or wheel pose), this
exercise completely blew me away, as my own shoulder
flexibility was barely adequate to allow my arms to
straighten even slightly. Miller sometimes demands
much from her viewers in other ways, too. For
example, her "Body Surfing" exercise, part of the
shoulder retraction series, is ideally performed lying on
a blanket while pulling yourself across a long expanse
of smooth flooring--a bit tough for those of us
practicing on carpet (the trash bag substitution is less
than adequate, and most home exercisers are likely to
have small space restrictions as well).
The goal of these shoulder exercises is to
mobilize the shoulders from every angle, and by the
end of the practice, Miller certainly achieves this
objective (your muscles will no doubt achingly bear
witness to this fact). This DVD is ideal for
counteracting the effects of poor posture, overcoming
imbalances, and strengthening weak muscles. Those
new to Jill Miller and craving someone who can teach
them about the way that their body moves are likely to
find a new love here. Personally, I'm glad to see Miller
getting the increased attention and recognition that she
deserves through this new series, as she casts a unique
light upon a crowded yoga media field. I do think that
the specific formatting of the Yoga Link series, which
separates the more intensive workshop-type tutoring
from the actual practice, fails to make the most of
Miller's best quality, which is her vibrant live instruction;
in her own Yoga Tune-Up series, the teaching and
practice were seamlessly rolled into one. Still, I
wouldn't hesitate to recommend Jill Miller's Yoga Link
series in general and this DVD in particular to any
experienced yoga practitioners; few other yoga teachers
will challenge you to explore your body in such an
intense yet accessible manner.
About Jill Miller
A student of yoga since age 14, Jill Miller brings more than 23 years of expertise, including the moving arts of Modern Dance, Pilates, Bodytuning, Breathwork, Shiatsu, and Butoh. Her teaching playfully integrates the nuts and bolts of human movement coupled with yogic philosophy, creating a unique experience that builds conscious awareness within every aspect your practice. With a focus on removing tension from the body, releasing entrapments of the mind and reconnecting you to your core, her innovative approach strengthens you from the inside out.
Jill’s enthusiasm for yoga is contagious. She inspires all levels from newcomer to teacher with her daring, playful and highly original style; her philosophy is deeply rooted in the work of longtime mentor Glenn Black (Iyengar Yoga/ Bodytuning Massage). For nine years she has taught at The Omega Institute for Holistic Studies in Rhinebeck, NY, while also leading workshops, retreats, and trainings internationally. Well known for her deep gut work, she has been featured in Fit Yoga, Yoga Journal, Breathe Magazine, Yogi Times and NPR. The Los Angeles Times calls her "kinetically arresting."