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Published in Health, Mind & Body/Exercise & Fitness
Roll Your Way to
A Better Body
Wouldn't you like your body to look and function better, without all the work that most fitness programs require? Body Rolling, an exercise program that you do with a ball, will tone, strengthen, and realign your body in a way that's not only easy but enjoyable and extraordinarily effective. This cutting-edge fitness practice-which isn't just for fitness buffs-will make you leaner, longer, and stronger; you'll achieve a terrific shape that you can't get from other workouts. Body Rolling will also prevent and fix all sorts of body problems. It's a workout, a massage, and a chiropractic session all in one!
What makes Body Rolling special is that you achieve phenomenal results in your very first session. Immediately, your whole body feels transformed: you're breathing more deeply; you're standing differently on your legs; your joints are looser. When you look in the mirror, you see clear, obvious changes: you're taller; your posture is better; you look sleeker, longer, and more shaped. And you suddenly feel an amazing sense of ease and well-being throughout your body.
From the start, Body Rolling goes to work on precisely those parts of your physique that are key to your particular self-image and sense of well-being. Laura, for example, had always felt bottom-heavy. She tried the treadmill, running, and stretching, but nothing succeeded in toning and slimming her heavy hips and thighs. So in her first Body Rolling class, she did the routines for the legs, rolling the ball down the front, back, inside, and outside of both thighs. When she finished and stood up, she exclaimed, "Oh, my god-my legs feel longer! I'm standing differently. I feel taller, and I'm even walking more easily. It's hard to believe this, but I also feel thinner! I can hardly believe I got this many changes from one session of just rolling on a ball!"
When Laura actually looked in the mirror, she saw that not only was she standing taller, but her legs were visibly thinner, toned, and more shaped. After spending so many weeks in the gym working intensely to slim her thighs, she couldn't understand how something as simple as Body Rolling could create such big changes so fast-but she was thrilled.
After class, Jackie listened to Laura describe these astonishing results while absently zipping up her skirt. Suddenly she stopped and stared at her waistline. "Oh, wow-my skirt is big on me! Can you believe it? How did this happen in a single class?" For Jackie the key Body Rolling routines were the ones for the back and front of her torso. These routines stretched out all her abdominal muscles and the long muscles running up her back-which meant that, like Laura, she was now taller. As those muscles elongated, they grew narrower, hence her smaller waist.
Laura and Jackie aren't unusual. Everyone feels major changes after their first Body Rolling session. Suddenly they're standing more upright, with their shoulders dropped back and down, and their neck longer and moving more easily. They find they no longer have to work at standing straight or trying to hold their abdomen in or preventing their shoulders from rounding forward. This is because all the Body Rolling routines build core strength, which is what you need to stand up tall.
Body Rolling realigns your body, bringing all the parts back to where they're supposed to be. You start feeling "right" in your body. Some people even remark that they never dreamed they could feel so peaceful and comfortable in their bodies, so much calmer and more relaxed. And they realize that whatever has happened goes beyond just working their muscles, for standing taller makes them feel better about themselves overall. The powerful awareness that your body has just gone through a major transformative change is one of the great gifts of Body Rolling.
Another stand-out benefit is that just by doing the basic routines in this book, you'll be able to prevent common discomforts such as tension, tightness, and pain. And if you already have a problem that's bothering you, Body Rolling will start to relieve it. This also means that you can avoid the stiffness, loss of mobility, and other problems that most people accept as natural when they get older. With Body Rolling you never have to grow stiff and weak; you can live out your later years with remarkable strength and vitality.
What Is Body Rolling?
Body Rolling evolved out of Body Logic, a body therapy I developed about twenty years ago, which is based on the principle that most people suffer pain and restricted movement due to faulty body alignment that results in collapsed posture, muscle tightness, and pressure on nerves. In treating people with Body Logic, I exerted traction on muscle by using one elbow to put pressure where a muscle began and the other hand to pull the muscle in the direction of its natural movement. Once it was elongated, the muscle could take up its full length, decompressing bones, joints, and nerves and restoring full function.
After practicing Body Logic and training other practitioners to do it in New York for several years, I moved to Spain, where I had no one who could work on me. So I decided to invent a way in which a ball could act as a practitioner's hands and proceeded to translate Body Logic onto the ball.
The result was Body Rolling, which consists of a series of routines that use a six- to ten-inch-diameter inflatable ball to stretch muscles, freeing restrictions in all parts of the body, increasing blood flow, and promoting healing. Lying over the ball, you literally roll your body out almost like dough, stretching and elongating your muscles. The Body Rolling routines follow specific sequences that match the body's own logic and order. Starting where each muscle begins, at the point called its origin, you roll toward its insertion, the point where it attaches to the bone that it moves. Unlike other types of ball work, Body Rolling allows you to work specific muscles in detail. You can even get into tight, restricted areas and loosen the muscles up.
Many people now use balls of different sizes for stretching, physical therapy, core strengthening, and balance. These programs consist of individual exercises targeted to specific body parts. But Body Rolling is different, for it stretches, tones, and realigns your whole body, as well as developing core strength. I think of Body Rolling more as a lifestyle than just a fitness program, since when you're more at ease in your body, your whole life feels easier.
No matter who you are, Body Rolling should be part of your life. And making it an everyday habit is easy, because you can do it at home, as part of your workout, or at the office. I've created office routines that prevent headaches; back, neck, and shoulder tension; and repetitive syndromes such as carpal tunnel that result from hours sitting at a desk or computer. You can also deflate the ball and take it on the road. Travelers find that using Body Rolling on airplanes and in hotels prevents jet lag and improves their performance, since their bodies aren't sluggish and aching. And, since most people have a limited amount of time, I've created routines you can do in just a few minutes for specific parts of the body: rolling up the spine, for example, is a great way to relax before going to sleep or to relieve the stiffness many people feel upon waking.
I've never known a single person who hasn't seen amazing results from Body Rolling. Whether you're young and fit and feeling on top of the world or older and more seasoned, you'll see dramatic improvements. You might not yet realize what "better" can be for you, but Body Rolling will reveal your own version of it.
People who are serious about their workouts, such as athletes and dancers, seek peak performance; Body Rolling can help them achieve this. For example, a runner who wants to speed up his time can use the ball to work all his thigh muscles. As he does the routines, he begins to sense which of those muscles are tight and restricting his movement. At the same time, the routines release those muscles, so he moves more freely when he runs and his time improves. Golfers can work out their back twist and prevent lower back problems. And Body Rolling will directly improve their swing.
In many ways, Body Rolling is the perfect manifestation of the new mind-body trend in fitness, as well as the current shift away from earlier motivating concepts like "no pain, no gain" for athletes. In more than twenty years as a body therapist, I've found that many people who go to great lengths to be fit-running, working out at gyms, learning Pilates, practicing yoga-often wind up hurting themselves by doing repetitive movements with bodies that aren't properly aligned. Many others walk around with pain and restrictions that they're only half aware of and accept as inevitable, because they don't know how easily these problems can be fixed. Because Body Rolling automatically restores your body to its correct alignment, it prepares you to do any type of exercise without injury, and it helps muscle tears heal faster.
While Body Rolling is an essential complement to any fitness program, on its own it provides many of the benefits of popular workout systems like Gyrotonics and Pilates, at far less expense. It requires only a ball and a book or video, and it can be practiced at home.
Many people aren't interested in working out. They basically feel fine in their bodies and just want to stay reasonably in shape. To them, the feeling of "better" after a Body Rolling session comes as a surprise, for they hadn't realized how much of an improvement in their physical well-being was actually possible. For these people, as well as those who don't really enjoy exercise but feel they ought to do it-or are told by a doctor that they must-Body Rolling offers an experience that's inviting, instead of being a chore. You don't have to work hard to achieve a toned, well-aligned body-and it's fun! Some people don't particularly like going to the gym; they have to force themselves to work out. But Body Rolling is so easy, and feels so good, that even non-exercisers get hooked. And because they see truly fantastic results quickly, they stick with the program. The more they do it, the greater their results.
A Simple Way to Slim Down
Many overweight people feel uncomfortable and unwelcome at gyms, making exercise even more of an obstacle. Yet these people too will find Body Rolling not only doable but enjoyable. After their first session, overweight people usually feel uplifted. Their weight pulls their body down but right away Body Rolling begins to reverse that, so they feel taller and freer in their movement. This gives them an incentive to do more. And because Body Rolling stimulates the nerve roots (which emerge from the spinal cord to form the major sensory and motor nerves, each innervating a different part of the body), it also stimulates the vital organs, improves circulation, and boosts metabolism, so all the body systems begin to function better. In this way, Body Rolling can actually help them lose weight.
Often people try to shed pounds by doing cardiovascular workouts to burn calories. Or they try weight training, hoping they'll lose weight as well as build healthy muscle mass. They're afraid that if they don't burn enough calories, they'll put on pounds. Yet often a rigorous workout will increase your appetite. But because Body Rolling relaxes you instead of depleting you, your need to eat actually decreases.
An Amazing New Look
As Laura's and Jackie's experiences show, Body Rolling also changes your appearance in ways you will love. Often people tell me that their friends ask, "What are you doing? You look thinner." In fact, they aren't thinner, but their whole body is longer, so they appear thinner. As Jackie discovered, elongating the muscles of your back, sides, and abdomen lengthens your torso and flattens your stomach. Most people find themselves tightening their belts another notch, and their clothes feel looser. Some women go down a whole dress size. The Body Rolling leg and pelvis routines perk up sagging buttocks, and the ball breaks up fatty deposits (otherwise known as cellulite), which is another reason that your thighs will start looking more streamlined.
Wrinkles on the face, sagging cheeks, double chins, and lines in the neck all result from your head dropping down into your neck, so that the muscles of your face collapse. When you elongate and tone the neck muscles, they hold the head up properly, so the sagging skin under your neck disappears and your wrinkles smooth out.
Beat the Clock and Age Gracefully
Picture two women walking down the street. One takes elastic strides, head erect, arms swinging freely. The other woman's head sinks forward, her spine slumps, her shoulders round, her chest is concave, her belly protrudes and sags. Because this posture limits her movement, she walks with a shuffle. From a distance, this second woman appears much older. But they're actually both twenty-eight.
Despite her youth, the second woman has fallen into the classic aging posture. No matter how old you are chronologically, this pose ages you. It doesn't just make you look older; it promotes structural and physiological aging processes in your body. And it can begin at any time, whatever your size, shape, or ethnic and racial background may be. Sooner or later, most people wind up in this posture-simply because they have never paid attention to how they were using their bodies. They look old at way too young an age.
Many people, particularly women, think of wrinkles as the ultimate harbinger of age. In fact, it's bad posture that causes wrinkles. Your skin is the clothing for your muscles, so if your muscles aren't toned, your skin will sag. My mother used to say that you can always tell a woman's age by her neck. And certainly, if you're frozen into the aging posture, your neck sags along with everything else. But if you remain upright, your neck muscles work properly and remain long. They stretch the skin out, and it doesn't droop.
What really determines how young you look and feel is how freely you move. Cosmetic surgery may change your appearance, but it can't make you feel or even look young if your body can't move. Once you've assumed the aging posture, your bones harden into position and restrict muscle movement, so the muscles in turn lose their range of motion. Eventually the posture restricts shoulder and leg movements, limits breathing capacity, and causes neck and lower back pain. The abdomen drops forward and weakens the abdominal muscles, so the intestines slip downward, exerting pressure on the pelvis. Ultimately the posture leads to height loss, arthritis, and osteoporosis.<
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