What is Body Rolling?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
A body rolling class may include yoga stretches to loosen and limber the body.
A body rolling class may include yoga stretches to loosen and limber the body.

Body rolling is a physical fitness technique which integrates specialized six to 10 inch (15-25 centimeter) balls into the workout routine. It integrates aspects of yoga to stretch and tone the body, creating longer, more limber muscles which give the practitioner greater freedom of movement and flexibility. Many bodywork professionals use body rolling to take care of themselves, and most people who practice body rolling use other bodywork techniques to keep their bodies aligned, healthy, and happy.

Body rolling with the large, soft yellow ball may offer pregnant women a treatment similar to a gentle massage.
Body rolling with the large, soft yellow ball may offer pregnant women a treatment similar to a gentle massage.

In a body rolling session, the practitioner follows a set routine which focuses on stretching muscles along their entire length, starting with the point where the muscle attaches to the bone. A ball is placed at the joint, and the practitioner slowly sinks towards the floor, pulling the muscle over the ball. The pressure from the ball stretches muscles and tendons, releasing areas of tension and lengthening the muscle to make it more flexible. Balls of different sizes and firmnesses are used depending on the type of stretch desired and the level of physical fitness of the practitioner.

The cat and cow movements are common back stretches in many yoga practices.
The cat and cow movements are common back stretches in many yoga practices.

The yellow ball is the easiest to work with, being the largest and most soft. Yellow balls can be used by older people and pregnant women to provide a gentle experience. More advanced practitioners can use the green ball, which is soft like the yellow ball but smaller, so it is more intense. The red ball is small and hard, ideal for penetrating areas of deep tension, and is used by experienced body rollers. In a typical body rolling session, the three balls are combined, with different balls being used on various parts of the body, and some practitioners adding specialized foot balls.

The concept of body rolling was developed by Yamuna Zake, who was originally trained as a yogi. In 1979, she had a serious injury to her hip and underwent several forms of physical therapy, all of which were unsuccessful. In response, she developed Yamuna Body Logic, a system of stretches designed to strengthen and heal her body, and started teaching the system to interested individuals. Body Logic developed into Yamuna Body Rolling, and Yamuna travels all over the world to offer certification trainings.

A typical body rolling class includes yoga stretches to loosen and limber the body before the session starts, and incorporates many poses familiar to people who already practice yoga and Pilates. In some cases, a body rolling class may be mixed with a yoga or Pilates class so that people new to body rolling can explore it in a comfortable way. However, body rolling gets deeper into the body than these two practices do, and acts almost like a massage, releasing tension while stretching.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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    • A body rolling class may include yoga stretches to loosen and limber the body.
      A body rolling class may include yoga stretches to loosen and limber the body.
    • Body rolling with the large, soft yellow ball may offer pregnant women a treatment similar to a gentle massage.
      Body rolling with the large, soft yellow ball may offer pregnant women a treatment similar to a gentle massage.
    • The cat and cow movements are common back stretches in many yoga practices.
      The cat and cow movements are common back stretches in many yoga practices.