Foam Roller : Targeting Serratus Muscles with Pilates

HOW TO Target Serratus Muscles with a Foam Roller

Featured Product: Foam Roller 
Purpose: Use for sports training, to help enhance balance, for body awareness, to improve flexibility, and during dynamic strength training. In therapy or rehabilitation they help with muscle re-education and myofacial release. Use a foam roller to self massage the entire body
Compatible Exercises: Pilates, Strength Training, Self-Myofacial Release, Stretching

The serratus exercise in this video helps to work the serratus muscle which runs from the ribcage to the back.  A short 1 1/2 minute video to strengthen and stabilize the core.

Find your 36″ Foam Roller here.  These are high density foam rollers that will maintain their resiliency and shape for a longer period of time as compared to the white open-cell foam rollers also available on the market.

Foam Roller : Pilates Movement The Swan

HOW TO do The Swan with a Foam Roller

Featured Product: Foam Roller 
Purpose: Use for sports training, to help enhance balance, for body awareness, to improve flexibility, and during dynamic strength training. In therapy or rehabilitation they help with muscle re-education and myofacial release. Use a foam roller to self massage the entire body
Compatible Exercises: Pilates, Strength Training, Self-Myofacial Release, Stretching

Here’s how you can do the Pilates move called the “Swan” while using a foam roller.

There are several kinds of Foam Rollers that you can find in our store – 18″ vs 36″, and textured or non-textured. Currently we only sell high density foam rollers because they are more durable and hold their shape longer.  You can find our selection of Foam Rollers on our Fitness Page.  These items are very versatile and can be incorporated into a variety of both Pilates and general fitness exercises.

Foam Rollers : Massage & Release

HOW TO do Massage and Release with a Foam Roller

Featured Product: Foam Roller 
Purpose: Use for sports training, to help enhance balance, for body awareness, to improve flexibility, and during dynamic strength training. In therapy or rehabilitation they help with muscle re-education and myofacial release. Use a foam roller to self massage the entire body
Compatible Exercises: Pilates, Strength Training, Self-Myofacial Release, Stretching

Foam Rollers are available at our store – available as a 36″ high density foam roller or an 18″ high density foam roller.  The next few weeks will cover a number of exercises for these versatile rollers.  Foam Rollers can be used to release tension and overworked muscles or also as a prop to add challenge to your fitness, Yoga, or Pilates routines.

Foam Rollers for Myofascial Release and Massaging Tight Muscles

by Elizabeth Quinn

Use a Foam Roller
Photo � E. Quinn

Foam rollers offer many of the same benefits as a sports massage, without the big price tag.

The foam roller not only stretches muscles and tendons but it also breaks down soft tissue adhesions and scar tissue. By using your own body weight and a cylindrical foam roller you can perform a self-massage or myofascial release, break up trigger points, and soothe tight fascia while increasing blood flow and circulation to the soft tissues.

How It Works

The superficial fascia is a soft connective tissue located just below the skin. It wraps and connects the muscles, bones, nerves and blood vessels of the body. Together, muscle and fascia make up what is called the myofascia system. For various reasons including disuse, not enough stretching, or injuries, the fascia and the underlying muscle tissue can become stuck together. This is called an adhesion and it results in restricted muscle movement. It also causes pain, soreness and reduced flexibility or range of motion.

Myofascial release is a body work technique in which a practitioner uses gentle, sustained pressure on the soft tissues while applying traction to the fascia. This technique results in softening and lengthening (release) of the fascia and breaking down scar tissue or adhesions between skin, muscles and bones.

Myofascial release has also been shown to relieve various muscle and joint pains such as IT band syndrome and shin splints as well as improving flexibility and range of motion.

Foam rollers are inexpensive and with a bit of experimentation you can target just about any muscle group.

How to Use a Foam Roller for Myofascial Release

Using a foam roller is simple, but working some areas may take a bit of practice and some body contortion. You start by finding a relatively open area with some floor space. Position your body with the area you want to work on top of the foam roller. Your body weight creates the pressure that massages and releases tight spots in the fascia. You control the pressure by applying more or less body weight on the foam roller and using your hands and feet to offset your weight as needed. It’s helpful to try a variety of positions and see what works best for you.

Tips for Using a Foam Roller

* Always check with your doctor before using a foam roller for myofascial release.

* Perform foam roller sessions when your muscles are warm or after a workout.

* Position the roller under the soft tissue area you want to release or loosen.

* Gently roll your body weight back and forth across the roller while targeting the affected muscle.

* Move slowly and work from the center of the body out toward your extremities.

* If you find a particularly painful area (trigger point), hold that position until the area softens.

* Focus on areas that are tight or have reduced range of motion.

* Roll over each area a few times until you feel it relax. Expect some discomfort. It may feel very tender or bruised at first.

* Stay on soft tissue and avoid rolling directly over bone or joints.

* Keep your first few foam roller sessions short. About 15 minutes is all you need.

* Rest a day between sessions when you start.

* Drink plenty of water after a session, just as you would after a sports massage.

* After a few weeks you can increase your session time and frequency if you choose.

* Do not use a foam roller without your physician’s approval if your have any heart or vascular illness or a chronic pain condition.

Stability Ball for Prenatal & Delivery

Exercise Stability Balls can be used in many forms of exercise – whether it’s Yoga, Pilates, or Fitness workouts. What some people don’t know is that these same balls are not only used for Prenatal Yoga, but in preparation for delivery of a baby. Hospitals and birthing centers incorporate “Birthing Balls” as part of their birthing preparation classes. This video will give you some ideas as to how this may be done.

When following along with this video, have your Yoga Ball / Birthing Ball, a Yoga Mat, and even a folding metal chair available to try some of these exercises.

Prenatal Yoga – Volume IV

Following is the fourth video in our series of Prenatal Yoga on a Ball. Each have run about 10 minutes long. To make one continuous practice, watch each of the last four Tuesday videos for a nice practice. In today’s video, Sara shows us a side stretch and some gentle backbends on the ball. You’ll need a yoga bolster and a Yoga Ball for this portion of the video series.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this series.  Even if you aren’t pregnant, you may enjoy trying some of these yoga poses on the stability ball, or even to learn how to incorporate a yoga bolster into your practice.

Anxiety & Stress : Mindfulness Practice

Mindfulness Meditation for Stress Relief


Meditation that cultivates mindfulness is particularly effective at reducing stress, anxiety, depression, and other negative emotions. Mindfulness is the quality of being fully engaged in the present moment, without analyzing or otherwise “over-thinking” the experience. Rather than worrying about the future or dwelling on the past, mindfulness meditation switches the focus to what’s happening right now.

For stress relief, try the following mindfulness meditation techniques:

  • Body scan – Body scanning cultivates mindfulness by focusing your attention on various parts of your body. Like progressive muscle relaxation, you start with your feet and work your way up. However, instead of tensing and relaxing your muscles, you simply focus on the way each part of your body feels without labeling the sensations as either “good” or “bad”.
  • Walking meditation – You don’t have to be seated or still to meditate. In walking meditation, mindfulness involves being focused on the physicality of each step — the sensation of your feet touching the ground, the rhythm of your breath while moving, and feeling the wind against your face.
  • Mindful eating – If you reach for food when you’re under stress or gulp your meals down in a rush, try eating mindfully. Sit down at the table and focus your full attention on the meal (no TV, newspapers, or eating on the run). Eat slowly, taking the time to fully enjoy and concentrate on each bite.

Mindfulness meditation is not equal to zoning out. It takes effort to maintain your concentration and to bring it back to the present moment when your mind wanders or you start to drift off. But with regular practice, mindfulness meditation actually changes the brain – strengthening the areas associated with joy and relaxation, and weakening those involved in negativity and stress.

Starting a meditation practice

All you need to start meditating are:

  • A quiet environment.  Choose a secluded place in your home, office, garden, place of worship, or in the great outdoors where you can relax without distractions or interruptions.
  • A comfortable position. Get comfortable, but avoid lying down as this may lead to you falling asleep. Sit up with your spine straight, either in a chair or on the floor. You can also try a cross-legged or lotus position.
  • A point of focus. Pick a meaningful word or phrase and repeat it throughout your session. You may also choose to focus on an object in your surroundings to enhance your concentration, or alternately, you can close your eyes.
  • An observant, noncritical attitude.  Don’t worry about distracting thoughts that go through your mind or about how well you’re doing. If thoughts intrude during your relaxation session, don’t fight them. Instead, gently turn your attention back to your point of focus.

Prenatal Yoga – Volume II

The following Prenatal Yoga video using a Yoga Ball is the second in our four-part series. If you missed last week’s video, you may wish to start with that 10-minute video before watching this 9 1/2 minute continuation of this practice offered by Sara Varona.

In today’s practice you will practice doing the ever-so-important-for-pregnancy squats in which you will use the Yoga Ball, but you may also wish to add a Yoga Bolster, Yoga Blocks, or a Yoga Blanket if you struggle with doing squats with your heels flat on the floor. This is also a great time to use Yoga Wedges which will offer that stable, sloped angle to raise your heels and still have the necessary support.

In addition to squats, you will perform some arm-strengthening exercises – perfect practice for carrying your new baby!

Prenatal Yoga – Volume I

Over the next several weeks we are going to offer several videos on Prenatal Yoga. This is the first of four videos from Sara Varona. In these videos, Sara recommends having a Yoga Ball, 1 or 2 Yoga Bolsters, and a small pillow to rest your head in Savasana.

For this first video, all you’ll need is the Yoga Ball. Yoga Ball manufacturers provide sizing charts to allow you to choose the right size based on your height. You’ll find this information on each of our product pages.  Primarily you will want a ball that will allow you to sit with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle.

Yoga Balls are also called Stability Balls, among many other terms, and can be used in many exercises – not just for these prenatal yoga poses. These poses can also be performed by anyone just to add some variety to your practice.

Before starting this video, I’d recommend turning up the volume on both your computer and the video itself, and find a nice quiet room.  The one drawback to this series was the volume being slightly too low.

This video is just the first 10-minutes of her entire practice – so don’t leave yourself unbalanced, be sure to do the Warrior II and Side Angle on your opposite side, too! And come back next Tuesday for more of Sara’s Prenatal practice.

Senior Exercises : Hip Adductor

Another video in our series for Seniors. Or not so senior — if you’re nursing an injury or want to start your new fitness routine gently — keep watching! This is an easy-to-do adductor exercise that can be done at home sitting in a chair or while you’re watching TV, even.  Great for those  inner thigh muscles.

We offer several sizes of mini-exercise balls.  These are light-weight, vinyl, inflatable balls and are available in 6″ , 7″ , or 9″ diameters.  Visit our Fitness Page to see all of our mini-exercise balls.

Senior Exercises: Hip Adductors — powered by