Rolling it Out With Yamuna Body Logic

By now you’re probably aware of the many benefits of foam rolling: increased flexibility, improved blood circulation through fascia and muscles, the breaking down of scar tissue-just to name a few. But there’s another version of body rolling that’s been around for more than 30 years! Ever heard of Yamuna? Neither had I. So when I walked by its flagship studio located in the heart of Manhattan’s West Village, I had to learn more.

Upon entering the very well-lit studio, it looked like a slightly eerie child’s bedroom. A bed on the back wall (which I later found out was temporarily set up for a video shoot of Yamuna’s newest work: In Bed With Yamuna), a mirror and cubby holes on the others, ropes and contraptions hanging from the ceilings, mats on the floor, all different sizes of balls laying around… and a skeleton model hanging in the corner to confuse me even more.

But once I got down to business, the whole idea made sense. Using three different sized balls, I followed the instructor as she demonstrated how to massage, prod, stretch, and roll my body out to produce feelings of yoga euphoria and jellyfish limbs. The movements were strategic, aligning with my muscles and ligaments in a way that only three little balls could manage. As Yael, an employee of the studio, explains, “Whereas the foam roller treats the body as one whole muscle, the ball is three dimensional and is muscle specific, allowing you to get in and around the joint (ie. hip and shoulder), and separate each vertebra, creating space.”

More than 30 years ago, yogini Yamuna Zake suffered from physical injuries that would not heal. Three days after her daughter was born, her left hip gave out-she actually heard the bones separate! Zake tried orthopedics, chiropractic, acupuncture, and other healing systems for two months, but when none of them worked, she decided to find her own solution. And she did! What resulted is now the core of what Yamuna is all about: Yamuna® Body Logic. I learned it involved more than just rolling out the body-the idea of the practice is to prevent injuries and heal areas of the body that experience the most wear and tear.

Yamuna has applied her body rolling science to many different forms of movement and all different parts of the body (even the face!). The beginners body rolling class (the one I tried) is a perfect way to introduce you to exactly what the form is all about. However, as the instructor said, it’s important to give it more than just one shot. Getting all the benefits from this therapy will take more than just popping in for one class. My personal favorite, Foot Fitness, is just 15 minutes of foot prodding that left my feet feeling strong, grounded, and happier than ever. Check out the Yamuna blog to learn some techniques for rolling out your feet and see demonstration videos from Yamuna herself!

“Don’t you find it interesting that present standards of fitness do not teach people the downside of any intense activity nor do they offer solutions once you break down? People need to have a fitness program and a Body Sustainability program side by side so they can keep doing what they love,” says Yael.

Truth. I might just be back for more.

Claimed Benefits:

Improved posture

Increased range of motion

Improved alignment in all parts of the body

Increased muscle tone

Increased flexibility

Increased organ function

Different Types of Yamuna:

Yamuna® Body Logic – Master Work

Yamuna® Body Rolling

Yamuna® Foot Fitness

Yamuna® Face Saver

YBR® Hands-on Table Treatment

Check out the Yamuna balls and DVDs here to get started at home! Otherwise you can look up a Yamuna class near you. They have them all over the world!

  • By Heidi Pashman

Runners are well aware of the efficacy of massage for injury prevention and recovery, yet few have the time or resources to regularly visit a professional massage therapist. Former yoga teacher Yamuna Zake has developed an affordable way to be treated to a daily massage.

Yamuna Body Rolling is a therapy, a stretching technique, and in some ways, a workout, that is an ideal adjunct to most any exercise or athletic pursuit. To heal her own leg injury, Zake created a deep tissue therapy she called Body Logic. To replicate the manual pressure she used in her Body Logic therapy, Zake developed the Yamuna Body Rolling ball from a dense plastic that is firm enough to become a self-massage tool. Yamuna Body RollingÝ uses a progressive routine to roll the body over the ball, from muscle origin to insertion, allowing the body to use its own logic—hence the name Yamuna Body Logic—to lengthen, separate and heal. The technique is especially effective for legs and the lower body, because so much tension is stored in the lower extremities.

Zake describes two common injuries for runners—ankles and knees—in her book, Body Rolling, An Experiential Approach to Complete Muscle Release (Healing Arts Press, 1997): “People who walk heavily or do much high-impact exercise also often lose the natural shock absorption of the intra-articular space in the ankles, the space that keeps the bones from touching each other. . . . The decrease in space within the ankle forces the knee to absorb more weighted impact. If this extra stress persists over time, the knee can weaken and become injured, resulting in increasingly limited range of motion in the ankle.” When the lubrication of the joint diminishes and the space decreases, the only way to counteract the injury-producing pressure and stress is to create space between the joints and to separate the muscle and bone.

Rolling the legs, spine, joints and muscles over a small, dense, inflated ball replicates the pressure of a deep tissue massage, relaxing and elongating the muscles with therapeutic effects. The leg routine starts by sitting on the ball, then moving slowly through the hamstrings, calves, quadriceps, adductors (inside thigh), and illiotibial tract (outside thigh). The first four are the most basic and include working from the hip joint down through the ankle, from the center, medial (inside), and lateral (outside) parts of each muscle. Where tender or painful spots are encountered, breathing into the muscle and breathing out the tension—much like yoga—is effective to help release knots and tightness.

Deb Powers is a runner, a massage teacher, and a massage therapist in a chiropractor’s office in Port Huron, MI. She has used Yamuna Body Rolling for preventive maintenance and recovery. “The older I get, I want to enjoy running, but I want to enjoy running injury-free,” she says. “I do a Body Rolling routine before and after runs, in place of, or in addition to, a warm-up and cool-down.”

The preventive maintenance approach has special appeal to Powers, who deals with injuries daily in her therapy practice. “Injuries are not generally in the belly of the muscle. The power of the muscle pulls on the tapered juncture, where the tendon attaches to the bone,” she explains. “Body Rolling helps cure micro-muscle tears where most injuries occur.”

Both Zake and Powers make the point that most people think of bone as being hard and lifeless, but it is a living entity where blood platelets are manufactured and where muscles start and end. By contacting the bone first, Body Rolling gives direct access to the muscles and tendons. “Most modalities treat muscle and chiropractors treat bones. Body Rolling incorporates both very nicely,” says Powers.

An ideal Body Rolling routine for runners is the hamstring release (which also helps to free the gluteal muscles). Do the same routine on the right, then the left leg:

1) Sit on top of the ball, sinking all your weight into the right sitbone—use your hands or fingers on the floor for balance and support. Use the bent left leg as support on the floor and extend the right leg straight out in front of you.

2) Move your body gently forward and backward so the ball rolls behind, then in front of the sitbone—use your fingers and left foot to help you move.

3) Shift your body weight from side to side so the ball rolls from one side of the right sitbone to the other.

4) Roll in a circular motion around the right sitbone, clockwise, then counterclockwise.

5) Pull your body backward and roll the ball a couple of inches down the middle of your right thigh, using your fingertips and left foot to help you move. Deeply inhale and, on the exhale, let the back of the leg sink into the ball, releasing tension in the hamstring.

6) Continue to roll down the leg toward the knee in two-inch increments, sinking into the ball at each point, waiting for the muscle to release a bit more at each spot.

7) Repeat on the left side.

More exercises are detailed in The Ultimate Body Rolling Workout by Yamuna Zake and Stephanie Golden (Broadway Books, 2003). More information, and balls, available at

Yamuna Body Rolling®

What is Yamuna® Body Rolling ?

Yamuna® Body Rolling (YBR) is a completely original fitness and therapy practice that was created by Yamuna Zake in NYC. YBR combines healing, wellness, and injury prevention in a single, simple workout. YBR heals body problems as it helps you get in shape. Its revolutionary approach to health and fitness uses small balls designed specifically for this practice. It is a combination of massage, fitness and chiropractic rolled into one. It heals and releases restrictions in the muscles, stimulates bone, and frees up energetic pathways.

In YBR we use different size balls to target specific muscles. Laying on the ball, the student is instructed how to follow the length of the muscle along the bone from its origin to the insertion point. This allows the muscle to release to its full length. This is different from foam rolling, as it allows the ball to move with the contours of the body, fully sinking into tight muscles to find that release. We use the breath to come into a relaxed state, which also helps the muscle release. We use the core to hold and support the body as we roll. Focus on form and alignment completes the work, and relaxation comes from the release of tension held in muscles of the body. This creates an overall sense of freedom and space in the body that will leave you feeling relaxed and wonderful! You will let go of tension you did not even realize you were holding.

Benefits of YBR:

  • Help increase bone density due to YBR’s weight bearing properties.
  • Use to target specific muscle groups and allow joints to become freer and increase range of motion, reducing restrictions and pain. Excellent for tight hamstrings, joint pain, hip replacement, knee replacement, or shoulder pain.
  • Ease chronic muscle soreness from stress and tension you carry in your body. YBR stimulates circulation and blood flow like a massage or acupuncture session. Not only does it affect the fascia and muscles, but it also stimulates the bones. It has wonderful effects in releasing the old patterns of tension we hold in our bodies. Releasing these held patterns of restriction in the body will allow the skeletal structure to fall into its natural alignment.

YBR Class Guidelines

  • Wear comfortable clothing that is easy to move in. Avoid baggy clothing, as it may make it difficult to roll with loose clothing getting wrapped up in the ball.
  • YBR is best done on an empty stomach, avoid eating right before class. If you must eat, a light snack up to 45 minutes prior to class is best.
  • YBR is done in bare feet or socks, no shoes worn in class.
  • We will provide all balls, mats and props for use in class. Balls are available for purchase at the studio to use for your own home practice.

Save Face


Yamuna created this work after she reached the age that so many women around her were having cosmetic surgery or using Botox and other injectables to prevent aging in the face. She took her same philosophy of stimulating and aligning bone that works so successfully in other parts of the body, to focus on the face.
Bone loss occurs more rapidly in the face than in other parts of the body and so she began to work on stimulating the bones of the face, then realigning them and finally working the muscles to work correctly with the bone structure. The results were more than she anticipated.
Years of repetitive stress patterns melting away relaxed the face and so many of the tension producing patterns began to resolve themselves. TMJ problems, were reported to be greatly improved. Sinus congestion and sinus headaches were radically improved and often corrected after years of suffering. Eye strain from overuse, reduced dramatically. What Yamuna hoped would be more of a vanity treatment to rid the face of wrinkles and improve skin quality turned out to be so much deeper and more profound. Through realigning the bones of the face, the shoulders relaxed and the hips and pelvis realigned!
As with all of the Yamuna work, she wanted this to be a treatment that everyone could learn to do on themselves at home or in a group class. She also developed the work for professional use as a private treatment performed by a trained Yamuna practitioner. In this session the practitioner is able to focus the treatment based on the specific needs of the person. This treatment can be done as a solo treatment or in combination with a facial. The practitioner can then teach the client how to work at home.
What was also seen was that on younger girls, the work was so much more dramatically visible. Once the stress patterns were reduced, so were the beginning of wrinkles! The younger someone starts this work the better chance they have of maintaining a wrinkle free relaxed face through the decades!This is a must for both men and women of every age who are self motivated and like to do work on themselves. We have found that more men than women, love to sign up for this as a private treatment!
In this 4 day training you will learn: the basic anatomy of the facial bones and muscles, how to teach a basic Yamuna® Save Face group class, how to work one on one with a person and perform the treatment therapeutically based on the individual needs of the client, and how to work specifically on problems such as TMJ, sinus congestion, and eye strain.
It is essential that you have had some prior experience with YBR®. We offer a 4 hour intensive YBR® class which teaches you all the basic YBR® lines of the body. (We have found that without previous YBR® experience, it is very difficult to understand the focused work on the face.)Upon completion of the course the following must be completed:
Written test
3 case studies with before and after photos. You will need to provide an initial assessment of what you see, what changes the person would like to achieve, and what the initial plan of action is. Please be sure to note changes each week including comments from the client and their own observations.
*3 individual case studies-must meet 3 times with each.
This is a great supplemental treatment for people who work specifically with the face; such as aestheticians, massage therapists, YBR® instructors, and people who work in spas and wish to have another treatment to offer as an add-on to another treatment such as a facial or a scalp massage.

Save your face – in just 15 minutes a day

08 Oct Save your face – in just 15 minutes a day

Posted at 16:37h in Blog, Lifestyle by Flex Studio

By Yamuna Zake

Yamuna Zake is 60, but you’d never know it. Her body and her energy belie her age, but most of all her face is so radiant it just doesn’t seem possible. Her secret is no secret – she is famous for inventing Yamuna Body Rolling (YBR) and Yamuna Face Rolling. Her face balls, when applied in a regular routine to various areas of the face, stimulate not only the skin but also the underlying muscle and bone, toning and conditioning the complexion. Learn how to turn back the clock in as little as 15 minutes a day at her upcoming Save Your Face workshop on 22nd October, the first time she has introduced it to Hong Kong.

What is face rolling all about?
When I am doing the Save Face work regularly, everyone asks me what I do to keep my face so youthful. However, we do not say it prevents aging. Instead we say that stimulating and aligning bone and then working the muscles helps prevent the natural aging process from showing itself so visually. The more you lift and align the bones, the better muscle and skin tone you will have.

Is there any scientific proof that it works?
Science is now beginning to speak about direct bone stimulation and how this might be an important area to focus on when it comes to the face. Cosmetic surgery means very little when bone loss begins. Unfortunately women lose more bone in their faces than men, as there is a high rate of osteoporosis in the facial bones.

How often do you practice face rolling yourself?
I usually do Yamuna Save Face about three to four mornings a week. I do for anywhere from five to 60 minutes.

Which exercises do you usually practice?
It depends on how much time I have and what I wish to focus on. The more detailed work around the eyes and mouth require more time. If I am just doing a whole face general treatment it will last about 15 minutes. I will change the focus many times per year. Sometimes I want to minimize the little wrinkles in the upper lip, sometimes I feel eye strain from hours at the computer and so I focus around the eyes, other times it might be to relax the TMJ, but mainly I do general sessions to keep the entire face brighter and lifted.

What other benefits does face rolling bring?
It definitely makes me aware of relaxing and not going into old patterns like frowning or squinting. If I begin to do these old patterns, I can quickly stop. If I have not done any face work for a while, and I do it, I realize just how good it is. Then I begin again to do it regularly because it just makes me feel and look better!

Do you still see the difference in your face after all these years?
It makes a big difference in the bone, muscle and skin most definitely. I am 60 so I do have my wrinkles, but after doing face rolling, my whole face is more relaxed, my skin’s quality is improved, my eyes are wider open and my face feels lifted.

What is it you like most about teaching others body and face rolling?
We have hundreds of testimonials about the face work. People that experience it are very impressed. Helping people become healthier, pain free and freer in their bodies during their aging process makes me very happy.

Yamuna will be in Hong Kong from 21 – 25 October with a full schedule of Yamuna Body Rolling classes. Check out her Save Your Face class, in Hong Kong for the first time, on 22nd October at One Island South.

Yamuna Body Rolling
21 October | 12pm – 2 pm | One Island South
21 October | 3pm – 5pm | Central

Save Your Hips with YBR
22 October | 3pm – 4.30pm | Central

Save Your Face
22 October | 6pm – 7.30pm | One Island South

Save Your Back & Shoulders
23 October | 11.30pm – 2pm | One Island South

Yamuna Yoga
23 October | 2.30pm – 4pm | One Island South
24 October | 1:30pm – 3pm | Central

Yamuna Foot Fitness
24 October | 3.30pm – 5pm | Central

Read here for more information.

Related Content

If you haven’t heard of the Yamuna method, you’re not alone. Founded the 70s by Yamuna Zake in New York City, the holistic body work system uses inflatable balls, spiked plastic foot massagers, traditional yoga concepts, and some serious muscle pressure to reimagine the traditional table massage—and there’s only one practitioner in Portland who’s trained to do it.

In a cozy studio above the Max line on SW Morrison, Vicki Seabrook welcomes clients to explore a wide variety of treatments—dubbed Body Logic, Rolling Table treatments, Yamuna Yoga, Body Rolling, Foot Fitness, and Face Saver sessions—based on the idea that healing and alignment occurs best with simultaneous bone stimulation and the application of traction to elongate muscle fibers in all directions.

Seabrook was introduced to the transformative method via her father, who was being treated by Yamuna Zake herself for a herniated disk. “He was still under her care when I had a horse riding accident and couldn’t move—so he suggested I see her,” remembers Seabrook. “It was a life changer. After being in so much pain for so long and not finding solutions anywhere, I was hooked after just one Body Logic session. I started going to her classes and I bought all the balls.”

After practicing the Yamuna method at home for many months, Seabrook enrolled in Zake’s certification course, and practiced in New York at Bliss Yoga Center and worked directly the method’s founder before moving to Portland. There are 457 Yamuna practitioners worldwide, and just 206 practitioners in the US—compared to over 350,000 massage therapists! The community may be small, but it’s united in a shared goal—to make every client independent and able to use the method at home, for free, without a therapist.

Here’s how the method works in all of its myriad forms:

  • Body Logic: Through gentle traction and rotation movements—utilizing the practitioner’s elbows, fingers, and other tools—muscles are traced at the origin of bone and tendon, elongating them towards the insertion, thereby increasing range of motion and eliminating pain and restriction. “I love Body Logic for really addressing what is going on structurally,” shares Seabrook. “I recommend people new to the method start with a Body Logic session, because it gives me the opportunity to see which other practices would be most beneficial for the individual.”
  • Yamuna Method Balls

    Body Rolling and Yamuna Yoga: A bit like foam rolling at the gym but with more focused targeting of muscles, a private body rolling session or Yamuna Yoga class will use 6-10 inflatable body balls and the weight of your own body to work specific muscles in detail, to create suppleness in tight areas and optimize range of motion.”I love teaching body rolling because I really enjoy people’s reaction to standing tall, looking surprised, and telling me ‘Wow, I feel longer and lighter!’”

  • Rolling Table Treatment: Originally designed by Yamuna Zake for the one-and-only Canyon Ranch Spa to translate the Body Rolling class into a relaxing, massage-like session, this treatment uses inflatable balls as a fulcrum within the body’s joints. This allows the trained practitioner to go very deep without pain, using the hands as traction on one side and the ball on the other, giving the client a treatment on both sides of the body simultaneously. According to Seabrook, “It feels like you have two therapists working on you at once to lengthen and align.”
  • Face Saver: Using a small inflatable ball to release and smooth the muscles of the face, this method is very easy to learn and use at home to target TMJ discomfort, headaches, and sinus trouble—in addition to some major aesthetic benefits. According to Seabrook, “the face work deeply relaxes furrowed brows while immediately helping to lift and erase fine lines.”
  • Foot Saver: Your feet are the foundation of your body’s architecture—the way you stand and the way you walk transfers into your posture and over time affects how stable and flexible your body becomes. This treatment teaches clients how to use Yamuna foot saver tools to bring flexibility, whole-body alignment, and stability. “Most exercise and fitness methods ignore the feet. There is nothing like specialized foot work to give each bone and muscle in the foot its own workout.”

As for being the only Yamuna practitioner in the region, Seabrook enjoys a loyal following without competition, but says there is one drawback to being a long ranger: “I don’t have anyone to give me a Body Logic session!”

For more information on Vicki Seabrook and the Yamuna method, including special intro rates and workshops, visit

Fitness Cheat Sheet: Yamuna Body Rolling

By Wendy Toth

If you’ve ever felt the sweet relief of getting a sports massage or using a foam roller after a major workout, like a marathon, then you already know the power of “body rolling.”

The pressure of rolling a ball against your muscles allows a release of tightness, lengthening of muscles, and re-aligning of joints that may have been pulled out of place, allowing circulation again. This translates into much less soreness, increased range of motion, and a faster recovery for the burnt-out athlete.

Image: Yamuna Studio

It’s these benefits and more that Yamuna Zake hopes to share with students of her Yamuna Body Rolling technique.

The class she teaches serves as a self-fixing and sustainability tool with the power to align the body, prevent breakdowns, heal existing ones, and even improve bone quality. She recommends it before beginning any other type of fitness practice to be sure you’re starting out problem-free.

There’s also a second level of healing that takes place.

“It directly stimulates the nerve roots of the spine, which then stimulates organ system functions,” says Zake, owner of Yamuna Studio in New York City. “It is a self-empowering, self-healing tool which allows you to problem solve, prevent, and maintain all your body parts now and in the future. It is also an anatomy tool because it teaches you how to work all your body parts anatomically correctly.”

Wear It… to Class

If you try a class, you should wear easy-moving, comfortable workout clothes, but no oversized T-shirts! “The ball will get all caught up in the T-shirt and not move,” says Zake.

Image: Yamuna Studio

Say It… For Motivation

“Tell a friend that you want to take her to a class where she will walk out taller, with all the stress melted out of her common tension points, and feel lighter, thinner, and freer in her body,” says Zake. “For sure she will be in!”

Just be sure to explain that this has nothing to do with common fitness classes, Pilates or flow-type of yoga. “She has to be open to letting her body unwind and free and correct itself.”

Find It… Near You

If you’re in New York, head to the original Yamuna Studio in Greenwich Village. Not in New York? Go to to find a YBR certified instructor in your area, or you can purchase DVDs and balls through the Yamuna Studio store, if there is no one located near you, says Zake.

Do It…Now!

The main reason people don’t try Yamuna Body Rolling is that they’ve never heard of it. “Though we have been around for a long time, we are not a part of what commonly falls under the category of fitness,” says Zake.

People tend to find the class when they are looking for a new way to approach their body. “Unfortunately most people find us after they have been seriously injured through a fitness choice.”

But Yamuna Body Rolling helps heal their bodies and learn what they need to do to keep their bodies in good shape going forward.

“If somebody does not like gyms or common fitness activities, then usually they love this,” says Zake. “The person who knows it is important to keep the body healthy and in good shape but hates the pushing and intensity of so much of what’s offered at gyms usually loves Yamuna Body Rolling.”

You might also like:
Muscle Confusion: Avoid Stress Injuries & Keep Workouts Interesting
Gyrotonic Unraveled: Help Your Body Massage Itself
5 Moves to Lengthen Your Muscles (and Why It’s a Good Thing to Do)
Fitness Cheat Sheet: Acro Yoga
5 Firming Products That Really Work

Wendy Toth writes and edits stories about fitness, beauty (inner and outer), health and pets for outlets like The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Weight Watchers and Pet360. She lives in Pennsylvania and Brooklyn, which is complicated, but fun. You can ask her about it through

Yamuna body rolling videos

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