Me? I want it all. Well, to put a finer point on it, I want to LEARN it all. I want to learn Buteyko breathing, I want to learn osteopathic manual therapy techniques, I want to watch dissection videos so I can understand better how our physical layer is put together, I want to learn more about the organs and how to keep them healthy with massage, I want to understand the trains of fascial connections in the body, I want to learn how to be IN my body and help my clients be in THEIR bodies, I want to learn about the world within and how to build the world I want.
And want to hear something a little alarming? I have spent $1700 on several online trainings in the past year to help me learn these things
And you want to hear something REALLY alarming?? Out of these 7 online trainings, I have only completed…
And why is that, exactly?
Well. I used to think this was due to some nasty character flaw. I just chase the next shiny new training that promises to be The One Thing my clients and myself REALLY need – the ONE THING that will bring clarity and amazing results.
I recently met with a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner, who is also a coach, who is also an astrologer. VERY interesting combination. I’ve never really gotten into astrology. I was raised in a religion where astrology was considered “spiritistic” (and not in a good way), but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve tried to let go of black & white thinking. So in my newfound open-mindedness and curiosity, I decided to see what my birth time and place had to say about Heather Anne.
According to my astrological chart, I like to learn lots of things without diving deeply into them. I love to learn and share, learn and share, learn and share. I want win-win solutions for everyone. I am more comfortable talking and thinking than feeling. I have lots of ideas. I am kinda shy. I enjoy talking about philosophy and ideas. My career is super important to me and part of my life’s purpose, but it’s going to take it’s time to come to fruition – probably around when I turn 50.
OH MY GOD. THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH ME. I AM JUST DOING EXACTLY WHAT I WAS BUILT TO DO. Ahhhhhhhhh………
Understanding ourselves better is SUCH a gift. We can see that we have areas of strengths and areas where we don’t naturally thrive, and that’s OKAY! We can make choices that better align with our natural gifts. We can slowly and subtly course-correct to move onto a path of better alignment with who we REALLY are (not who we are trying to be to please people or in order to fit in).
It can be really difficult to get to know ourselves, and here are some ways to get started.
1. Ask 10 friends/coworkers to describe you in 3 words (tip from my SE Astrologer/Coach, Angela Freebird).
2. Subscribe to my friend Angela’s yoga classes and newsletter here. She sends out a few paragraphs with each class recording, and there are so many good self-discovery nuggets in there. She sent out a list of strengths-finding questions last week, which I loved (I copied them at the bottom of this newsletter).
3. Identify your top 5 values. You can download the worksheet to help here.There are probably a million more ways to start the journey of self-discovery, but those are a few that are top of mind right now. I would really love to hear what strengths and/or values you crystalize as a result of these exercises.
Space to be Human Lab
– If pain or tightness is preventing you from doing what you love, book a manual therapy session with me here: Booking link. We’ll co-create an experience tailored to your specific case.
– I am offering no-cost 30-minute embodiment sessions where we can explore how Somatic Experiencing principles can help you find more ease and peace in your body. It’s a win-win; you get to spent some time building the vital skill of feeling your feelings, and I get some practice in holding space. You can book a Zoom or in-person session here.
If you would like to sign up to get these posts sent to you directly, please click here.
“Alex Linley’s Top Ten Strength Spotting Tips (copied from Angela Stewart’s 7/13/22 newsletter)
1. Childhood memories: What do you remember doing as a child that you still do now – but most likely much better? Strengths often have deep roots from our earlier lives.
2. Energy: What activities give you an energetic buzz when you are doing them? These activities are very likely calling on your strengths.
3. Authenticity: When do you feel most like the “real you”? The chances are that you will be using your strengths in some way.
4. Ease: See what activities come naturally to you, and at which you excel – sometimes, it seems, without even trying. These will likely be your strengths.
5. Attention: See where you naturally pay attention. You’re more likely to focus on things that are playing to your strengths.
6. Rapid Learning: What are the things that you have picked up quickly, learning them almost effortlessly? Rapid learning often indicates and underlying strength.
7. Motivation:What motivates you? When you find activities that you do simply for the love of doing them, they are likely to be working from your strengths.
8. Voice: Monitor your tone of voice. When you notice a shift in passion, energy and engagement, you’re probably talking about a strength.
9. Words and phrases: Listen to the words you use. When you’re saying “I love to…” or “It’s just great when….,” the chances are that it’s a strength to which you are referring.
10. “To do” lists: Notice the things that never make it on to your “to do” list. These things that always seem to get done often reveal an underlying strength that means we never need to be asked twice.
Adapted from Average to A+: Realising Strengths in Yourself and Others, by Alex Linley, published by CAPP Press, 2008″
Tag: manual therapy
On Getting a New Perspective
I’ve written before about Balance and how the theme of balance keeps surfacing in the ocean of my experience – the need for balance in thoughts and opinions, balance in work and fun, balance in movement practices. Eventually everything needs to wobble back to center – it’s just that we don’t know the timescale!
I took a manual therapy training class recently that is helping me embody more balance in how I think about manual therapy and in how I practice hands-on work.
I was trained in a school of thought that was very much posturally focused. We were taught how to analyze someone’s posture and note where the patient was twisting or shearing or in some other way moving out of “neutral.” These deviations from neutral provided clues to what muscles or organs or systems needed some attention.
It was/is a useful analysis, and many people WAY smarter than me are using it every day to literally change people’s lives. But, the more I read and learned about other modalities, the more I realized that posture is only part of the story. And in my own personal practice, I noted that many of my clients were feeling much better after seeing me, yet their posture remained essentially unchanged. How to reconcile this??
To further confound myself, I worked on an article for Tune Up Fitness on the importance of posture. I had the privilege of talking to several experts in the field of human performance and well-being, and most of them stated the same thing – posture is just a piece of the puzzle of pain. Oh. And the research says there really is no “perfect” posture. The really important thing is being able to move through a variety of postures depending on your need in the moment.
This whole exploration of the importance of posture helped me practice the skill of believing almost mutually exclusive things to be simultaneously true. Is posture important? Yes. And also No.
So to further develop the skill of becoming comfortable with uncertainty, I took Walt Fritz’s class, Foundations in Manual Therapy. Walt also comes from a therapy lineage that focuses on posture as a primary indicator of pain. However, after taking several classes in several different modalities (that all worked), he realized that while they all worked, their explanations were often not founded on scientific literature. YET THEY ALL WORK!! Why??
Essentially, his answer is, because of the Therapeutic Alliance – that connection between the client and the therapist – the exchange of energy and attention and intention – that communication between two nervous systems – that is really where the magic of therapy happens. It’s not that the therapist released a trigger point or freed up a restricted nerve, or unstuck some fascia. It’s that the therapist jibed with the client.
The core of his approach, “Rather than using a protocol or trusting your knowledge and experience, you’ll instead listen to your patient.”
I so love this.
I am ever grateful for what I learned at the Center for Neurosomatic Studies. But, man, the human body is all sorts of complex, and when my brain starts trying to follow the twists and turns and flexes and extensions found in a body, my insides start to get all wound up too, and my brain gears start overheating. And guess what happens then? I get all up in my brain instead of my in my body, present and accounted for with my client.
When I have scientific “permission” to focus instead on what the human being in front of me is telling me with their voice, their eyes, their body language, and I can focus on that instead of solving a puzzle, wow – then I can be present, aware, and open to possibilities that the client/therapist partnership can open up. And there is so much beauty and freedom in that.
So that is what I am experimenting with – taking all I know, all I don’t know (SO MUCH), all of what the client needs and wants and expects – and putting all that together into an experience for the client that helps them find more space, freedom, and ease. And, oh yeah, trying to have fun in the process. 🙂
Come join me on the exploration, if you want to see what opportunities for healing we can discover together!
What is Neurosomatic Therapy?
You know that quote from Morpheus in the Matrix?
“Unfortunately, no one can be told what The Matrix is. You‘ll have to see it for yourself.”
That’s kinda how I feel about neurosomatic therapy. I mean, at its base, it’s a form of massage therapy. But I feel as if I have to layer on all these caveats and qualifiers, after I drop those words, “It’s a form of massage therapy,” so that people have a more realistic expectation of what treatment entails.
How about I just get started instead of wasting both of our time talking about talking about it!!
NST is a form of very targeted bodywork that is focused on bringing balance back to the body and the nervous system. Each session begins with a postural assessment during which we measure the position of many of your bones, including the bones of your head, in a few different positions (standing, seated, laying down).
We use these measurements to identify areas where the body is tilting, twisting, flexing, or extending. These measurements, along with your history and symptoms give us a good indication of what muscles, organs, or bodily systems need attention.
We’ll review the results of this assessment with you, help you understand what we think could be contributing to your pain, answer any questions, and then dive into treatment.
Treatment usually consists of very focused manual therapy (we might just work your right anterior deltoid, for example, instead of working your entire shoulder or both shoulders). We not only treat the usual suspects (upper traps, posterior neck, etc.), but we also treat muscles commonly overlooked such as the muscles on the face and head, the front of the neck, and inside the mouth, eye muscles, muscles of the hand and foot, etc. Treatment may also include joint mobilizations, breathing exercises, and treatment of your organs (heart, lungs, liver, intestines, bladder, etc.),
The work can be intense for some, as we search out specific areas (trigger points) that are not getting good blood flow. While the treatment may at times be uncomfortable, it should never be painful to the point where you are bracing against the pressure.
What can NST help with?
Headaches, migraines, tinnitus, vertigo, TMJ disorders, sinus issues, neck pain, whiplash, frozen shoulder, thoracic outlet syndrome, tennis/golfers elbow, carpal tunnel syndrome, back pain, scoliosis, low back pain, digestive issues such as IBS, painful periods, hip pain, sciatica, shin splints, foot pain, plantar fasciitis, etc.
Can NST fix me?
With NST we help you and your brain bring awareness to areas of the body that are misused, abused, or confused. This improved awareness, enhanced by expert targeted manual therapy and consciously done exercises, can help decrease pain and improve your performance. Ultimately, it’s YOU that heals YOU, by using this new-found awareness of postural patterns and habits to change how you move and interact with the world.
How long does it take to get better?
Some clients see marked improvement in their first session; however, many clients feel much better after the 4th session. Some clients see tremendous improvement after 10 sessions or so. It really depends on the severity and length of your symptoms, as well as other factors that influence your perception of pain (e.g. sleep, your thoughts about the pain, nutrition, movement, etc.)
What should I expect in a session?
During the session you could be up and down off the massage table, and you may be moving into a variety of positions (prone, supine, side-lying etc.) for treatment. To facilitate how active and varied the session can be, you will be dressed in either gym shorts (if you are a male) or a NST gown (shorts and a shirt that opens in the back) if you are a female.
Each session will begin with the postural assessment and interview. Then treatment will commence. Treatment will include education, using models or anatomy software, to help you understand what is going on in your body. You may also do some exercises, and you will likely get homework. Lasting change can only occur by repeatedly showing the brain how to access the “new normal.”
Here is a video that shows a typical NST session.
What if I have more questions?
Leave me a comment below, or contact me using the link above or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/hloyoga/.
Today’s post will be brief, as I’ve been procrastinating (watching Great British Baking Show, cooking food, looking at Facebook, you know 🙂 ), and I still have lots of studying to do, and Tim and I are supposed to play Jaipur too!
ANYWAY, I wanted to let you know about an exciting development. We are bringing The Roll Model® Method Teacher Trainings to the Center for Neurosomatic Studies! I cannot convey how excited I am about this. The whole reason I found out about neurosomatic therapy is because a Yoga Tune Up® teacher took her son to an NST therapist and was blown away by the treatment. She commented on it on the YTU Teachers Facebook page. I was in the middle of trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life (I wanted to help people in the health/wellness arena, but did not want to go back to school for 6 more years and spend $100,000 on tuition). Her post sparked my interest, and upon Googling, I found my school. And here we are, about 2 years later, and I am on the cusp of graduating from CNS!
Anyway, back to my original point, in school we are taught how invaluable it is to give patients “homework.” It’s vital to help remodel their bodies, and it also helps them realize they have an internal locus of control. Their therapist/doctor is not responsible for their health, the patient himself/herself is! The self-massage that is taught in Yoga Tune Up® is a perfect compliment to the work we do in NST. This has become abundantly clear to me as I’ve progressed through the program, so much so, that I thought, “We HAVE to bring a YTU training to this school!”
I talked to my teacher, mentor, and school-owner, Randy, and he readily agreed. And my dream is coming to fruition! In March, we will offer both of The Roll Model® Method Trainings at CNS! One of my teachers from my Yoga Tune Up ® Level 1 training is going to teach the class. She made a huge impact on me during the Level 1. I remember telling her, “I’m just a part-time yoga teacher. I just do this on the side…” And she called me out on minimizing myself and my skills, and it solidly hit home! The fact that this super-talented, intelligent, gifted woman thought I had something real to offer to people gave me a whole new perspective on what was possible! And she is the person who will be teaching this class. 🙂
Here are the links to the classes:
The Roll Model® Method – The Science of Rolling
The Roll Model® Method – Ball Sequencing & Innovation
If you are at all interested in learning some easy-to-use self-massage techniques for yourself or your clients/patients, I cannot recommend this training highly enough. I would so love to see you there!
Hope you are having a great Sunday!
Adding Adductors to your Body Body of Knowledge
Yes. I purposefully tried to make the title of this blog as confusing as possible. Why? Does it mean I’m not a good writer? Does it mean I don’t care about the edification of my readers? Does it mean my brain finds pleasure in confusing word play that takes a couple of moments to figure out? Because, No, No, and Yes. 🙂
So, Adductors. If you are like me, you probably have only ever heard of adductors as a glump of muscles that get “stretched” in wide-legged yoga poses like prasarita padattonasana (wide-legged forward fold). Before starting school at the Center for Neurosomatic Studies (CNS), I had only a vague notion of some muscles in my inner thigh that were super tight, and which did not allow me to do wide-legged poses without getting a cramp in my butt. Thank you, CNS, for helping me understand with specificity what these muscles are.
Your adductors are made up of several different muscles that connect from the lower portion of your pelvis to the back side of the long bone of your thigh (the femur). I realize the pelvis can be a bit of mystery as well, so here is brief overview of the points we need to know about. The pubis is the bone on the front of your pelvis. If you are like me, you often accidentally ram this into countertops/tables, and it hurts like a mother.
Directly underneath the pubis is the ischium. Sit on your hands. Go ahead – it’s okay. Sit on your hands. You feel those bones pressing into your hands? Those are your ischiums (commonly called “sit bones”). The pubis and the ischium are the superior (aka “upper” or “northern”) attachment points for the adductors, as you can see in the drawing below (which is a view of the pelvis from the front). Disclaimer: these are drawings I did quickly for my own personal study aids, so they are not 100% accurate. They’ll give you a gist of the anatomy, however. You can click on the pictures to make them bigger.
The adductors are made up of the Pectineus, Adductor Longus, Gracilis, Adductor Brevis, and Adductor Magnus muscles. You can see the specific attachment points in the illustration below. (Please note that my anatomy text led me astray in regards to the attachments of Gracilis and Adductor Longus. They should actually be flipped).
From the pelvis, the adductors travel at an angle to connect to the back of the femur, as you can see in the illustration below. I used to think that the back of the thigh was made up of just the hamstrings. But there is a lot going on back there! All the adductors connect there, as well as many of the quadriceps.
Why are the adductors important? For SO many reasons! They have trigger points that can present as pain in the front and inside of the thigh and in the genitals and rectum. They can cause the sacrum to tilt, which forms an uneven base for the spine, resulting in a functional scoliosis. Also, the adductor magnus can pinch the greater saphenous nerve, causing the knee to collapse while walking.
At CNS we learn how to treat the adductors, which can relieve the symptoms described above. But sometimes releasing a muscle is not what it needs. Sometimes it needs to be stronger. Weak muscles can contribute to pain, just like over-active muscles can. I love the Adductor Slides Yoga Tune Up® pose; it helps you tune in to your adductors and strengthen them in a fun and slightly excruciating way. Here is a demo from Trina Altman.
Well, I hope you learned a little something about your body today. If you try the adductors slides, let me know what you think.
Thanks for reading today!
The Delightful, Dynamic, totally Dope Diaphragm
In last week’s post, I mentioned that the psoas shares attachments to the diaphragm, so I figured we might as well delve into the diaphragm next. Please note my extensive use of alliteration within this post, as alliteration is amazingly awesome.
I should start by saying, in this post I will be discussing the RESPIRATORY diaphragm, as there are a few different diaphragms in the body. The respiratory diaphragm, as the name implies, is related to respiration (aka breathing). It is your primary breathing muscle. Or at least it should be. For a variety of reasons we can end up constantly using accessory muscles like the neck and shoulder muscles for breathing. This can lead to chronic neck/shoulder tension, head-forward posture, and an amped up nervous system. But I digress. Man, this topic is hard to write about without octopusing off into a tangent!!
The diaphragm is a large, domed-shaped muscle that sits inside your ribcage – think of a parachute tucked up under your ribcage. This muscle separates your heart/lungs from the rest of viscera (liver, stomach, intestines, etc.). It forms a seal around your ribcage that enables the pressure changes that inflate and deflate the lungs with each breath. At rest (meaning the muscle is not contracted), the diaphragm is in parachute mode – domed up inside the chest. When you inhale, it actually flattens and moves DOWN, pulling air into the lungs, and pushing down on the viscera below. If you want to understand this concept better, you can watch this video (and learn how to make a working lung/diaphragm model yourself!).
We take about 23,000 breaths a day. With each breath, the diaphragm (which shares connections to the pericardium which contains the heart), massages the heart above it and the organs below it, keeping everything nice and mobile and moving stuff like blood and lymph through the body. So you can see why I say the diaphragm is delightful, dynamic, and dope! Such a helpful muscle!
But like any muscle, it can become dysfunctional due to misuse, disuse, overuse, and abuse (to borrow some language from Jill Miller). When this happens, your posture can be affected, breathing issues can arise (asthma, COPD), and your sympathetic nervous system (flight/flight/freeze) can become ramped up, causing anxiety and panic attacks.
But there is good news!! Even though this muscle seems inaccessible, all tucked up under the bony cage of our ribs, it can actually be treated with manual therapy. At the Center for Neurosomatic therapy, we learn how to work with the patient’s breath to get our thumbs up under the rib cage and treat this muscle. And, yes, that is as uncomfortable as it sounds. BUT, it is SUPER effective. Each time I’ve done this treatment, the patient notices IMMEDIATE improvements in his/her breath.
If you don’t have access to a neurosomatic therapist’s thumbs, you can do some self care on your own diaphragm. As with anything, Awareness is Step #1:
Take a moment, close your eyes, and see if you can tell where you feel your breath happening in your body……………………………………..
Done? Ok. Where did you feel it? Did you feel it up in your neck? Your shoulders? Did you feel your ribs expand? Did you feel your belly move at all?
If you feel all your breath up in your shoulders and neck, try focusing on pulling that breath down lower in the body. You can use the Yoga Tune Up® Coregeous ball to help. Check out the video here from one my Instagram Idols – the Movement Maestro.
I hope this helped you understand the darling, dependable, damn-brilliancy of the respiratory diaphragm. Give it some love today – we think we have it rough if we have to work 50 hours a week. It works 24 hours a day, 7 days a week!
Have a fabulous Sunday, and let me know in the comments if you have any questions!
Psoas – The “Hidden Prankster”
My final term at the Center for Neurosomatic Studies began week before last. We’ve only had 2 weeks of school and already we’ve covered tons of interesting stuff in Advanced Technique class. I finally know the official protocols for the diaphragm, illiacus, superficial paraspinals, quadratus lumborum, deep spinal rotators, deep costal muscles, and, wait for it….THE PSOAS, aka, the “Hidden Prankster” according to Janet Travell who literally wrote the book on trigger points.
All of these muscles can be implicated in the number one reason people miss work – BACK PAIN. But the psoas is in a world of its own. Because of its placement in the the body, it can contribute to almost every distortion imaginable.
The psoas lies on the anterior surface (the front) of the transverse processes (the horizontal parts of the vertebrae) and bodies of lumbar vertebrae and attaches to the lesser trochanter of the femur (a little bump of bone on the inside of your thigh). It’s basically this huge strap of muscle that runs deep along your lumbar spine, behind all your guts (aka viscera) that connects your torso to your legs. When you sit all day, it gets shorter, and shorter and shorter and ramps up its pranksteriness to a 10.
Because of its length, placement, and connections in the body, it can contribute to spinal flexion, extension, and rotation; hip flexion, extension and tilt; torso tilt, and pain in the abdomen and back. It also shares attachments with the diaphragm, so it can contribute to breathing dysfunctions, which can lead to to a whole host of other ailments like anxiety, depression, head forward posture, neck pain, etc.
It’s a tricky muscle to treat effectively, however, because it is deeeeeep within the body. We learned a technique to kind of swim down through the viscera to the back of the abdomen. As you can imagine, this is not a FUN muscle to have treated. But it can make a world of difference!!
If you can’t find a neurosomatic therapist, or if you don’t want to fly to Florida and visit me, there are lots of exercises you can do to help stretch out the psoas. Katy Bowman, my favorite biomechanist, describes an easy psoas stretch here, and Jill Miller shares a creative way to use Yoga Tune Up® balls to get into this area here.
All this is to say, I’m so glad I finally learned the official protocol for this little prankster!