We often hear about the importance of foam rolling. It helps increase circulation and breaks up cellulite in the thighs, while helping to align, tone and stretch out muscles, thereby increasing range of motion. That’s all wonderful, of course, but foam rolling too hard or too often can leave you black and blue, and in pain. What you may not know is that you can achieve the same results with zero bruising thanks to something called Yamuna body rolling, which uses balls of various sizes to strategically massage muscles and ligaments.
“With a ball, you can do so much more detail. You can be very specific about the muscles you are working,” explains Yael, who leads the Yamuna program at Pure Yoga. “With the balls, you can work deep into your joints and with a foam roller you cannot. It’s easier to relax and let go into a ball than a foam roller. A ball can work into your armpits, up each side of your spine, work into your hips, a foam roller cannot.” She also notes that foam rollers are more painful to work with and that people tend to roll them randomly. In keeping with that, Yael stresses the importance of taking a class to familiarize yourself with the body rolling practice. “We teach people to roll the muscles of an area, so they can learn how to release tight muscles rather than just roll up and down.”
As an added bonus, the balls used are all relatively small, so they can easily travel with you once you’ve mastered how to use them. And while you can take classes that focus specifically on either your entire body or specific body parts (like your feet), for the time-crunched, there are an increasing number of Pilates and yoga classes that are incorporating Yamuna to simultaneously help build strength.