Yoga For Pain: Jill Miller's 6 Exercises To Reduce Pain Through Exercise

When you're in pain, the last thing you feel like doing is moving your body — but yoga and fitness therapy expert Jill Miller says that is, in fact, exactly what you need to do to help yourself heal.

"People think of yoga as just stretching," says the California-based teacher. "But it's not — it's literally getting those body parts functioning better."

Trained in dance, Shiatsu and yoga, Miller is well versed in the need for the body to function as it should, but she sees far too many people whose movements are hurting them more than they help.

"Bad movement habits leak into every single posture you have throughout the day," she tells the Huffington Post Canada. "Our postural habits maintain our pain, unless we deliberately and in a disciplined way attempt to make change and attempt to sustain the change we get."

She gives examples like standing with one hip cocked out, or always using one hand to do all your activities, even just reaching for a jar in the pantry. Balance is key, she says, to make sure all the parts of your body are functioning.

As the Livestrong website notes, "a regular yoga practice can also help improve the range of motion of your joints," so the more you engage your body, the better able it will be to function.

Miller has also created her own program, called Yoga Tune Up, based partly on the Bodytuning technique she learned from master teacher Glenn Black, which focuses on using your hands to help others adjust their bodies. Tune Up, on the other hand, emphasizes doing this work yourself, self-assessing your condition and figuring out where you may have overused, underused or misused parts of your body.

Check out these 6 exercises and find out how they can help your issues. Also, Miller's been making frequent visits to conferences lately — look at her schedule to find out if she's giving a class near you soon:

6 Exercises To Help Reduce Pain

Lower Back Lengthener


The balls roll out the multiple layers of back and abdominal muscles that seam together in a large connective tissue tract called the thoraco-lumbar fascia.


This area can become stiff when any of the layers that intersect here are injured or in pain.


1) Place the Yoga Tune Up Therapy Balls side-by side in their tote (tennis balls in a sock can be substituted) across the low back spine.

2) Place feet on floor and elbows on floor and roll the balls up and down between the pelvis and the ribs for 1-2 minutes.

3) Breathe deeply into the abdomen throughout.

Rib Rock


Frees up trapezius, rhomboids, erectors and intercostal tension, mobilizes rib joints and spinal joints, posterior diaphragm rib connections and massages deep back musculature.


Uncorks tension along the upper back and spine so that the spinal bones regain fluidity and mobility.


1) Place 2 grippy Yoga Tune Up Therapy Balls (or tennis balls) along the side of the spine in the upper back region.

2) Breathe slowly into the ribs and rock from side-to side and allow the balls to massage in towards the rib joints. 1-2 minutes on left side of spine, then switch sides, then move the balls into the lower thoracic spine & ribs and repeat.

IT Band Meltdown


The IT Band is often unreasonably tight with any type of knee dysfunction. This thickened sheath of connective tissue on the side of the quadriceps directly threads into the hips, buttocks low back, knee and the lower leg bones.


Stroking the balls both along and against the lateral thigh can make a huge difference in relieving pain and improving muscle function of the quads.


1) Place 2 Yoga Tune Up Therapy Balls (or tennis balls) in a tote against the side of the left thigh.

2) Roll the balls in aside-to side motion tracking them across the side of the thigh. Breathe's going to create a lot of sensation! Approximately 90 seconds-2 minutes.

3) Then keep the balls in place and slowly straighten and bend the left knee. Breathe's going to create EVEN MORE sensation! Approximately 60 seconds.

4) Switch sides!

Coreso Leg Lift


This pose targets the critical relationship between our breath and our posture while toning the innermost abdominal muscles. You will feel a tremendous stretch in the back of the abdominals along the long postural muscle, the iliopsoas.


Hip flexors are lengthened as are the hamstrings, the lattisimus, and subscapularis. You may grow half an inch taller too!


1) Lay on a yoga mat with a block or phone book under your pelvis and engage the following actions:

2) Reach the arms overhead and externally rotate them so that the hands hold on to the sides of the yoga mat and attempt to pull the mat apart.

3) Stretch the right leg towards the ceiling (if hamstrings are tight, bend the knee), lower the left leg towards the ground without touching the floor, but do not allow the spine to lose it's stability or natural curves.

4) Breathe for one full minute on each side while remaining stable

Shoulder Flossing


The shoulders are rarely taken through their entire range of motion. Unless you are a gymnast or climb trees, you may be weak in certain directions of motion.


Shoulder flossing helps to mobilize the entire shoulder joint and rotator cuff while providing strength and stretch to all the shoulders tissues. FLOSS DAILY!


1) Grab a belt or strap in between your hands 2-3 feet apart.

2) Keep the right arm help high in the air, and steer the let arm back behind you until you feel a deep stretch in both shoulders.

3) Slowly alternate the shoulders so that both shoulders are thoroughly "flossed" approximately 90 seconds.

Magician's Assistant


The side body can be challenging to isolate...this pose targets it with precision.


This exercise targets the internal and external oblique layers and the quadrates lumborum- a deep low back muscle. It also strengthens portions of the iliopsoas. (You will feel this one tomorrow!)


1) Place your right hip on a brick and right elbow on the ground.

2) Engage your side-waist muscles (obliques and quadrates lumborum) to raise your legs to hover 4-6 inches above the ground.

3) Make sure that your shoulders, pelvis and ankles line up with each other, and that the 2 legs remain glued together.

4) Sustain the position while breathing deeply for one full minute, then switch sides.