Whole Body

Have a Ball

Realigning expectations and muscles at Laughing Elephant Yoga’s Roll and Recover class

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I’m no stranger to a yoga studio. An avid Bikram yoga fan in high school, and having dabbled in Kundalini and Ashtanga Vinyasa in college, I know my way around a mat. So, when I got the chance to visit Laughing Elephant Yoga in East Greenwich, I was psyched to sign up for a class and get back into a practice I hadn’t done for months.

The Laughing Elephant offers traditional yoga classes – Hatha, Vinyasa, Forrest – alongside one-of-a-kind additions like Funky Flow (done to music) and Tune Up (to fine-tune your poses). I decided to pick a class I’d never heard of or done before: Roll and Recover. After an extended hiatus from stretching of any kind, I figured this would be the perfect chance to release the muscle tension I’d accumulated, especially after a day at the desk.

Roll and Recover promises restoration, alignment, and self-massage to relieve muscle aches and pains. At Laughing Elephant, it was a small, intimate class of ten, including our instructor, Jessie Dwiggins. She started with a quick overview of our “tools”: a series of rubber balls of varying sizes, a strap, and two blocks. The balls were what intrigued me. There was the Coregeous ball, large and malleable; the Alpha ball, softball-sized and firm; and Tune Up balls, able to fit into your palm and extremely dense. 

We started with the Coregeous ball, tucked under our navel as we lay face down. We were instructed to gently move side to side, and then “north to south”, to engage the superficial layer of muscle. The sensation was strange and mildly uncomfortable, but when we removed the ball to lay flat again, the result was profound: An open, limber feeling in my stomach.

“Be kind to your body,” Dwiggins would remind us periodically as we transitioned between movements. We worked with each ball, placing it in strategic areas and using our body weight to massage even the most deeply rooted tension. The most uplifting experience for me was using the Tune Up balls to roll away tightness in my thighs; when we returned to rest, I could practically melt into the mat.

The hour and a half long class worked through the most crucial points of tension: the core, back, shoulders, and hips. Some exercises were more difficult than others; however, Jessie insisted we modify the positions if we encountered any pain. “Listen to your body,” she encouraged. I’ll admit, after not engaging my muscles like I should for so many months, I definitely had to be patient, particularly with regards to knots I discovered in my upper back.

The class finished with a familiar pose to all yogis: Savasana. Lying flat on my back, palms up, eyes closed, and every fiber of my body now feeling supple and relaxed, I was easily able to float away into a meditative state. By the time we closed the session with a reverent Namaste and applause for our amazing instructor, I was light, limber, and looking forward to trying another class.

Laughing Elephant Yoga
4372 Post Road, East Greenwich • 398-2616