Practice Yoga? You Probably Need a Yoga Tune Up

Yogi Mado on Her Love of Yoga Tune Up (And Why You Should Try It)
iStock/fizkes

Mado Hesselink grew up with asthma, which made exercise a challenge. But she didn’t let that stop her from delving into martial arts and yoga. After having a child at 24, Hesselink turned her focus from martial arts to yoga. With yoga as her only form of exercise, though, she began experiencing pain in her joints. Through her research into alignment and a Crossfit class, Hesselink found Jill Miller, founder of the Yoga Tune Up method. As Hesselink puts it, “The Yoga Tune Up Level One Teacher Training rocked my world, and the rest is history.”

Today, Hesselink is a certified Yoga Tune Up teacher, Yoga Therapist, and E-RYT 500 yoga teacher. She offers yoga teacher training, workshops, and series classes at Asheville Community Yoga in North Carolina. She’s also the founder of Yoga Teacher Resource, an online mentorship website for yoga teachers.

Hesselink shares her love for Yoga Tune Up with us, how you can benefit from it, and where you can find your own YTU instructor.

Image via Timothy Burgin

So, what’s Yoga Tune Up?

Organic Authority: For those of us that haven’t heard of it, what is the Yoga Tune Up method?

Mado Hesselink: Yoga Tune Up is a method for improving movement so that we can experience less pain, better posture, and superior performance. YTU incorporates self-massage, both traditional and novel yoga postures, breathing methods, and meditation.

There are some hallmarks to the Yoga Tune Up method, including self-massage with grippy rubber balls (both for relaxation and awareness), poses and exercises chosen specifically to illuminate and heal body blind spots, detailed explanations on the how and the why of each exercise, and a guided relaxation at the end.

Image via Micah McKenzie

OA: How did Yoga Tune Up come into being? Do doctors or other professionals endorse it?

MH: [Yoga instructor] Jill Miller created Yoga Tune Up when she realized that the demand for her style of combining yoga, anatomy, and self-massage was greater than her capacity to reach people. She decided to sit down and codify her approach so that she could pass on her abilities to other teachers without creating carbon copies, and Yoga Tune Up was born.

Yoga Tune Up is endorsed by medical and fitness professionals including mobility expert Dr. Kelly Starrett, biomechanist Katy Bowman, VP of 24 Hour Fitness Lashaun Dale, and many others.

OA: What type of person would Yoga Tune Up appeal to most? Is it good for people who are dealing with chronic pain or injuries?

MH: I see three basic populations that can most benefit from Yoga Tune Up:

  1. Regular yoga practitioners who wish to step outside of the box of whatever tradition they practice in order to improve body awareness and gain a deeper understanding of how their current practice might be supplemented to be more balanced and sustainable in the long term.
  2. Athletes who wish to focus on active recovery in order to improve performance and recovery.
  3. Injured or de-conditioned people who want to experience the benefits of better movement in a safe and evidence-based environment. 

    Image via Mado Hesselink.

OA: Can you tell us more about “body blind spots”? How do these blind spots develop, and how can Yoga Tune Up help with them?

MH: We all have body blind spots. Think of body awareness as a continuum from the places we are most aware to least aware. Our body blind spots are the places on the less aware end of our personal spectrum. These are the places where we are most likely to experience dysfunction and eventually injury.

The Yoga Tune Up method is focused on helping us become more conscious of these subconscious patterns while also teaching how to compensate for them. Shining a light on your blind spots won’t eliminate them entirely, but it will move your entire spectrum to the side of more awareness, more function, and therefore less injury and better performance.

OA: On your website, you talk a little about the “deeper processes of yoga” and the “philosophy of yoga.” Can you tell us more about it? How much of yoga, for you, taps into that deeper part of it?

MH: Yoga is as much about changing our mindset as about changing our bodies. When we practice yoga, our attitude is as important as our alignment. That doesn’t mean we need to start out in a certain state of mind in order to practice (quite the opposite – yoga is most beneficial when we are struggling).

The first step to “the deeper process” is a commitment to noticing and being present with reality. Hatha yoga is a fantastic context to practice this because being in a body and noticing the physical sensations is a great tool for taking us out of our stories and into what’s really happening in the present moment. If we are doing yoga, we are tapping into this deeper awareness.

OA: How does a practice like yoga connect to self-care?

MH: The term ‘self-care’ in great part refers to managing our nervous system; ravaged by over-stimulation, stress, and sedentary lifestyles. Yoga is the ultimate modality for self-care within that context, and Yoga Tune Up takes that to a new level with the addition of self-massage as well as specific training and emphasis on the nervous system. The philosophy of yoga invites an internal locus of control which allows the practitioner to notice what they need in a given moment and empowers them to act on it.

OA: How can readers find an instructor near them that offers Yoga Tune Up?

There is a searchable database of instructors where you can locate the certified Yoga Tune Up teacher nearest you.

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5 Common Yoga Injuries (And 6 Ways to Avoid Them!)

Lauren Krouse
Lauren Krouse

Lauren Krouse is an autodidact, travel addict, amateur Buddhist philosopher, and proud black lab mama. She believes in sounding her barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world Whitman-style and is frequently found writing in the woods perched on a log or reading on the coast with her belly in the sand.