Allow me to introduce you to the newest instrument of torture accessory in my yoga class. It may look like a giant piece of styrofoam into which you could stick artifical flowers and the like to craft some tall, round centerpiece but trust me, you can't. It's hard as a rock; no floral pick is going to penetrate that baby.
It's a foam roller, a piece of equipment that's crossed over from rehab training into fitness workouts because it's lightweight, versatile and inexpensive, relatively speaking. Mine came from Target and it's about 24" long and 6" in diameter but they come in longer sizes too. Given that I'm a rule-follower, I got one exactly like the instructor held up when she asked us to start bringing them to class.
And what do we do with them, you ask? She took it pretty easy on us the first class but I don't think that's going to last. We laid on them and rolled back and forth, first with it in our lower back then down on our glutes, progressively working our way over to our hip. You put your body weight on the roller then use your arms to roll yourself back and forth. It's a cheap form of deep-tissue massage that hurts but in a good way and your arms get a workout to boot. Since this came at the end of the class, my complaining body was glad to have a rubdown even if it did have to work a little to get it. In fact, I used it again after I got home to soothe my quads and glutes after four miles on the treadmill after class.
That massage-thing is just the beginning though. One glance at the box my roller came in tells me it won't be long before we'll be sitting on for core work. Unstable surfaces just make the muscles in your stomach and back work that much harder so I see sit-ups balanced on the roller in my future. And she's bound to know a way to work it into our stretches as well. I like the massage idea...the rest I'm not so sure about.