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Originally published Friday, July 19, 2013 at 11:15 AM

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Melt (Method) away imbalance with this regimen of rejuvenation

Essentially guided self-massage for connective tissue, and also to sooth the nervous system, Melt works for those who need to realign and for injured athletes.

Special to The Seattle Times

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Melt Method

www.meltmethod.comYoung Pilates

www.youngpilates.com2100 Thorndyke Ave. W., Seattle

206-282-2504

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RELAXING COMES easily to some. I'm not the best at it. I get a little twitchy if I don't have something active on the schedule every day.

But my body still insists — sometimes very loudly — that it needs days off. And I listen.

I really like to lounge on the couch. But sometimes I like for someone else to tell me how to relax, like a restorative yoga class. I dig relaxing classes that do good things for my body. Cue the Melt Method.

I went because I felt physically spent, and I liked the idea of a class where I could melt like ice cream. But Melt has become the big thing, or that's what I gathered after hearing that Melt founder Sue Hitzmann showed up on national television with Dr. Oz.

A few gyms and studios offer Melt — and I feel certain more will show up soon. The Melt Method, which is essentially guided self-massage of our body's connective tissue that also soothes the nervous system, works both for people who need to realign their bodies and for injured athletes. Teacher Nikki Naab-Levy told me she was perpetually injured until she started to Melt.

It apparently is appropriate, by the way, to use Melt as a noun or a verb.

Naab-Levy met Hitzmann at a fitness conference. She was hooked immediately and has been teaching it since 2011, mainly because of the benefits she saw in her own body and in people who come to her class.

I took Naab-Levy's class at Young Pilates, which offers Melt weekly. She started our class with some foot massage in which we put three tiny balls of varying firmness into our palms, then rolled over pressure points on our feet — including the toe knuckles and heels. After that, Naab-Levy had us fold over and feel the difference between our hamstrings on each side. The side I rolled felt far more open.

Naab-Levy explained that when we sit all day, the tissue in our legs gets compressed and then dehydrated because fluid can't get in there. Melt techniques help us rehydrate our tissue.

After working our feet, we moved to the floor. Naab-Levy had us lie on our mats and observe where our upper backs and ribs were on the floor to determine if our low backs were compressed or our hips were out of alignment.

From there, we used a soft foam roller to rebalance, using it lengthwise to stimulate the nervous system, moving our arms around to get more mobility in our shoulders, and then rolled our pelvis and hips to decompress our low backs. She had us pause on the crunchy bits in our hips, IT bands and inner thighs to soften them. For a few moments, it didn't feel so mellow.

The Melt foam roller is softer than ones I've used before. Naab-Levy said that's because our connective tissue responds better to a gentle approach, which I can appreciate.

We also worked on rolling out the cervical spine in our necks, and some gentle twists to complete.

I emerged relaxed. I felt like my body was realigned. I loved the idea of pairing the work with more intense fitness to help prevent injuries. I hope more Melt popularity means more classes pop up around Seattle. My body is already demanding — loudly — that I return.

Nicole Tsong teaches yoga at studios around Seattle. Read her blog at papercraneyoga.com. Email: papercraneyoga@gmail.com. Benjamin Benschneider is a Pacific NW magazine staff photographer.

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