Self-Massage and a Tennis Ball

July 02, 2020

The benefits of incorporating massage into your yoga practice are profound. Self-massage promotes circulation, stimulates your lymphatic system, and offers myofascial release. Fascia is the thin connective tissue that holds your organs, muscles, bones, nerves, and blood vessels together. Unhealthy fascia can lead to tight muscles and limited mobility.

Incorporating yoga with self-massage is a great way to warm up and loosen muscles. A natural pairing is Yin Yoga, a gentle paced practice that focuses on relieving stress and targeting deep connective tissue by holding restorative poses for 3-5 minutes. The practice is especially attractive to those with tension, injuries, or chronic pain.

The basic idea of using a tennis ball (or any other small firm ball), is to pin the ball between a hard surface and the targeted area on your body. It acts similarly to a foam roller, but with the ability to accurately pinpoint your tension.

Here are different techniques to try:

  • Roll a ball under each foot for several minutes to release your plantar fascia and loosen tight hamstrings.
  • Target tightness in your upper back by putting a ball between you and a wall or your mat. You can incorporate small movements or allow stillness for single-point pressure. Make sure to do each stretch on both sides of your body to encourage balance, or you can use two balls at the same time for a nice heart opener.
  • While lying on your side and propped up by your elbow, place the ball underneath your armpit where your deltoid and breast tissue meet. Hold this position for at least 30 seconds before rolling on the ball.
  • Place the ball right under the fatty tissue beneath your piriformis muscle and relax into savasana. If you have two balls, you can do both sides simultaneously.

Allow your breath to be your guide, breathing deeply through each position to deepen the stretch. Since you’re dealing with sore parts in your body, some pain is expected. However, if you can’t breathe through the sensation of pain, you’ll need to adjust the pressure or location.

And as always, make sure to drink plenty of water after self-massage to support the increased circulation that massage promotes.

By Hannah Parks; All Rights Reserved @2020

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