Yoga & Myofascial Release: The Bodymind Ballwork Method with Ellen Saltonstall

Are you plagued by chronic aches or movement restrictions in your body that persist even with a good yoga practice? In addition to finding help through chiropractic, massage or physical therapy, you can help yourself with simple yet powerful techniques that you can do right at home.

Myofascial release techniques are gaining popularity as a way to relieve stress and chronic pain. Using simple tools like rubber balls, we can explore tension patterns and gain flexibility for whatever we do, whether it’s yoga or sports or simply living an active life.

The body has much to tell us, but often we need to learn ways to listen. Myofascial release techniques sharpen one of our senses that is often called the sixth sense: interoception, the ability to recognize sensations and signals from inside the body.

Our all-pervasive fascial web functions as support, as force transfer, and as sensory feedback throughout the entire body. But it can significantly restrict our movement if it is chronically tight. Myofascial release techniques take advantage of the rich nerve supply within the fascia; by applying specifically targeted pressure to the fascia, the body and mind release tension and movement becomes easier and more enjoyable.

In this webinar we will look at one such technique called Bodymind Ballwork. The distinct feature of Bodymind Ballwork is the use of rubber balls of varying sizes and textures (as small as a walnut and as big as a melon), which support, massage and stretch localized areas of the body. There are techniques for every part of you, from head to toes. The work involves creating very specific pressure into the myofascia, and then doing simple slow movements. The result is a wonderful feeling of lightness and ease in the body, and quiet alertness in the mind. To quote one student: “It’s like having a massage therapist in your pocket.”

The name “Bodymind Ballwork” underscores the truth that any and all experiences register in the mind and body simultaneously, often at an unconscious level. What we think and how we react to situations and relationships will be “recorded” and “digested” into the tissues of the body, whether we like it or not. But it’s not just on the negative end of the scale (frustrations giving you a headache, etc) but also on the positive side – we can shift our mental state for the better by working with the body. Even fifteen minutes on the ball can calm you down significantly. The truth is, we are already “integrated” but we don’t usually feel that way. This technique is an elegantly simple and profound pathway toward the experience of an integrated self.

We’ll look at the science behind the relaxation response and its benefits for overall health – not just relieving aches and pains, but also gaining the emotional benefits of being fully “embodied.” Practitioners report feeling more centered, calm, and able to meet daily challenges with equanimity and positivity.  We’ll also look at the characteristics of fascia and see how the pressure from the ball brings about relaxation.

We’ll look at several key techniques for daily practice, as well as specialty techniques to relieve problems like plantar fasciitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, headaches, and sinus problems.  This method uses several different types of balls, offering choices of texture, size, and hardness for different body types and personality types. Some like a soft pressure, some like more firm pressure. While working with the balls, you are either lying down, sitting in a chair, or standing near a wall.  We avoid holding positions of strain, which would be counterproductive to the goal of releasing tension.

Bodymind Ballwork evolved from my forty-year practice of Kinetic Awareness, a bodywork method developed in the 1960s by choreographer and film-maker Elaine Summers. The origins of this approach to bodywork education go back to pre-war Germany, to the work of Elsa Gindler, an innovative physical education teacher.

One student’s comment: 

To participate in Ellen’s ballwork classes, in an intensive series as well as in weekly sessions, gives me an exceptional chance to heal my body and lighten up my mind. Ellen is one of the most dedicated teachers I’ve ever encountered: her knowledge of the body is superb and she knows how to convey that knowledge; her style of presenting the exercises combines compassion and humor. Attending her class enables me to be disciplined and gentle to myself when doing the exercises at home – often getting totally rid of any pain. What a blessing! 

This Course Also Includes:

  • Yoga Practice Video: Enjoy a yoga practice video that Ellen created for this course.
  • Recordings of All Webinar Sessions: It’s generally acknowledged that many people only retain 10-20 percent of what they learn in a workshop. You will get access to the recordings of all webinar sessions (both MP3 (downloadable) and MP4(streaming), enabling you to go back and listen to the workshop as many times as you like.
  • Transcripts of All Sessions: Ever wanted to refer to a certain part of a course? Even the best note takers miss a point every so often. With the transcripts of the  webinar sessions, you can go back and refer to particularly important passages or clarify sections you were in doubt about.

The course qualifies for 2.5 CEs with Yoga Allliance.

Related courses

Ellen Saltonstall (E-RYT 500, C-IAYT) is a yoga instructor & body therapist based in New York with extensive training in the Iyengar & Anusara methods. She has been a practitioner of yoga & meditation for over 45 years.

$127/ Lifetime Access

I appreciate the work you do very much. Keep it up! You really raise the bar for yoga education. I will savor all the material on my Dashboard.
Barbara P.
Your website is a blessing to guide me deeper into my personal practice and my teaching practice.
I wanted to expand on my thank you. Yoga U Online has been an absolute lifesaver for me. I moved from a yoga mecca to a yoga desert. Instead of having my choice of teachers and styles and special workshops, I now have to travel an hour to take a class. The excellent teachers and interesting topics at Yoga U Online have kept me moving ahead in my practice. I am grateful for all the wonderful yoga you bring to me. Thank you.