Blog Posts

On Humility

I am reading a really beautiful, thought-provoking book, “Yoga Therapy as a Creative Response to Pain” by Matthew J. Taylor. I was first introduced to Matthew Taylor when I read, “Yoga and Science in Pain Care.” He wrote a chapter on the history of pain science, and it literally made me laugh out loud. Not the reaction you would guess to a chapter on pain science! But the chapter tickled me so much that I looked up Mr. Taylor and sent him an email thanking him for writing such a fabulous chapter.

And lo!

HE WROTE ME BACK!

Come to find out, this PT, PhD, C-IAYT (and past president of the International Association of Yoga Therapists), lives in Iowa City, IA – literally 45 minutes from me. As we chatted back and forth via email, I found out that he is friends with Jill Miller (my teacher and founder of Tune Up Fitness), he lived and worked in Galena, IL for several years, his wife graduated from the same college I did (St. Ambrose University). His grandma had a house 2 blocks away from where Tim and I lived for 10 years. She was also a bank teller at Davenport Bank, which essentially became Quad City Bank & Trust, where I now work. #syncrhonicities

This super brilliant man was so kind, curious, and humble. I called him Dr. Taylor, and me told me to call him Matt. 🙂

Fast forward a couple of months, and I was asked by Tune Up Fitness to write another article. They suggested that I interview Matt, and I jumped at the chance. I emailed him, and within a few hours, he emailed me back with a “Yes, I would love to!” and we settled on a date and time.

He spent 45 minutes sharing his insights and perspectives with me (more to come on that, when my article gets published). During our conversation, I found out that he had written a book. I was so intrigued by our conversation and his very inclusive, open, humble approach, that I quickly added his book to my collection.

It’s an amazing book. He is teaching me about philosophy, systems thinking, holding space for paradoxes and uncertainties, and at the same time, drawing connections between all these things and yoga. There is enough in this book to keep me studying for years, but one concept really caught my attention, as we are going through this very divisive time. On page 83 he talks about 3 forms of humility:

  • Agential humility – that recognizes that there are some things we simply cannot change.
  • Epistemic humility – that recognizes that we can never know all the factors involved in a situation.
  • Predictive humility – that recognizes the uncertainty of the final outcome and all the ramifications of our actions.

Practicing these forms of humility opens up SO MUCH SPACE for compassion, understanding, and patience. While I may believe something 100% and have NO DOUBT of its veracity, I can never know all the factors involved. I cannot judge you or your opinions as “wrong” because I don’t know all the relationships (context) involved. Also, let’s say I could somehow know that you are “wrong.” Well, I don’t know the final outcome of any actions you take based on that “wrong” belief. As Galadriel says, “Not even the wisest can see all ends.”

The only thing I know for sure is that I know nothing for sure. If we could all approach life and each other with that foundational belief – just think of the space that would open up for new ways of thinking, new ideas, new connections. Differences of opinion would be food for conversation and exploration instead of vitriol and dissension.

As a therapist and a life-long perfectionist, I really struggle with feeling inadequate. I have felt as though I should be able to tell a client, “Oh yes. I know the problem. Here is what you need to do.” But that is not me. I have a big long jumble of ideas of things that could possibly, maybe, hopefully help, and I share those ideas with an invitation of “Let’s try and see.” In reading this book, Matt reiterates repeatedly that our role as therapists is to 1) Create a safe environment and 2) Empower clients to create new responses.

So maybe I’m NOT doing it wrong??

What’s the point of this whole post? Well, firstly, if you are at all interested in yoga and pain management, you must read this book. And then you must contact me so we can digest it together (it’s DENSE). And secondly, don’t be so sure. Don’t be so sure you have the answers or that you don’t have the answers. Don’t be so sure you are wrong and someone else is right or vice versa. The answer is always “Yes and no, maybe, and it depends.”

Hold space for the unknown – there is space to play and create and connect there!

Are you Enough as Is?

Do you harbor an idea that there is something wrong with you? Have you been on a hamster wheel of trying to better yourself to be worthy of love/acceptance? How might your life look different if you believed that there was nothing wrong with you and nothing to be fixed?

I am taking an 8 week workshop called Remind with Betsy Rippentrop at Heartland Yoga in Iowa City, and these questions were provided as part of our homework this week. I am reading, “Yoga Therapy as a Creative Response to Pain,” and the sentiment of “You are complete and whole as is” is reinforced in this beautiful book as well.

If you felt that you were whole, complete as is, how would your life change? How would you feel if you were told that you ARE complete? You were born complete – no need to prove yourself. No need to push and strive and do things you hate, just to impress others or because you felt as if it’s what you “should do.”

I almost can’t wrap my little brain around that concept.

But I think – I think what I would do – if I were whole, complete, as is, I would just do what I really ENJOY doing. I would do what makes me happy, what makes me lose track of time.

And what I really enjoy doing, is learning. Well, learning, and then sharing what I learn with others. Sharing an idea, or a practice, or a perspective that opens up space in another for new opportunity, a new way of being, space to explore – that is what I really love.

And that gets me to the point of this post – I am in the process of changing my business name to Space to Be Human. Honestly this year has tossed a lot of my goals, plans, and drive to execute on their heads! BUT, the important thing is to keep moving forward, enjoy the process, and trust that things will work out the way that they are supposed to work out.

So, all that is to say, if someday, you wake up and try to book a session with me, and Suddenly! my website and booking software say, “Space to be Human” instead of “Heather Longoria Bodywork & Yoga,” do not be alarmed. It is all legit. I’ll explain my rationale for the name (which I am 100% totally in love with) in the next post.

In the meantime, I recommend getting some paper, a fun pen, setting the timer for 10 minutes, and writing out your own response to the opening questions. I would love to hear what you come up with.

Love, Hlo.

On Balance

“Everything flows out and in; everything has its tides; all things rise and fall; the pendulum-swing manifests in everything; the measure of the swing to the right, is the measure of the swing to the left; rhythm compensates”

― Three Initiates, Kybalion: A Study of the Hermetic Philosophy of Ancient Egypt and Greece

And that, my friends, explains everything – Life, The Universe, and Everything. Oh, and Neurosomatic Therapy too.

The universe, our bodies, our lives – we all strive for homeostasis, for balance. In NST, we look at the body and observe where it’s tipping, tilting, twisting away from balance. Not that any of these movements are bad, in and of themselves. But over time, done repetitively, the body starts to adapt. It shortens and lengthens muscles (Davis’s Law), it grows and destroys bones (Wolff’s Law). It adapts to be more efficient at the positions you put it in most often. Unfortunately, this means that if/when you want to move and hold your body in a different position, your muscles and joints doth protest, and that protestation can manifest as pain.

In NST, we do 84 measurements of bony landmarks in your body to see where you have made accommodations over time. Based on these measurements, we can target muscles that need incentive to relax and let go or that need stimulation to get the attention of your brain, so that the brain can start operating them better.

I have been listening to a great podcast, The Optimal Body, which is hosted by two physical therapists who have an easy-to-understand balanced approach on getting people out of pain. They introduced me to the concept of 30 for 30. For every 30 minutes that you are in a static position, spend 30 sections doing the EXACT OPPOSITE thing!

For example, if you are (like me right now), usually sitting, hunched over your computer, wrists extended, shoulders rolled forward, head craned toward your computer, eyes focused intently 2 feet in front of you, then ===> Stand Up. Extend your spine. Ramp your head back so your ears are stacked over your shoulders. Flex your wrists. Stretch your arms out to the side and point your elbow pits up to the ceiling. Look out your window and at the farthest, farthest tree. Do that for 30 seconds.

This is SUCH a simple exercise – no fancy cueing, no complicated instructions to remember. Just DO THE OPPOSITE OF WHAT YOU USUALLY DO. You remember that episode of Seinfeld where George Costanza does the opposite of everything his instincts tell him to do, and his life suddenly turns around?? Well, in this rare instance, follow George’s example.

I am in the process of figuring out when/how to return to NST practice. Miss Rona is being very difficult. But I will get it all figured out soon. In the meantime, feel free to reach out to me with questions, comments, suggestions for what you would like to hear about next. Thanks SO MUCH for reading!!!

Take care, My peeps!

What is Neurosomatic Therapy?

You know that quote from Morpheus in the Matrix?

“Unfortunately, no one can be told what The Matrix isYou‘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/.

IAmA New Therapist

Hola My Peeps!

Being a new therapist, I have lots of questions. LOTS of questions. Fortunately I am surrounded by brilliant minds who generously want to share their guidance and experience.

I’ve been doing 30 minute(ish) video conferences with therapist I admire, and we discuss a variety of topics of interest to new therapists – how to build a business, how to network effectively, how to take care of your body, etc.

You can find all these videos on my YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLu1NZIuFEBw1rMAut7cADbuCQGxYi1fPP.

Let me know if you have any questions you want me to chase down!

You are What You Think

Exciting News!! Tune Up Fitness gave me an outlet to write about a subject that has been fascinating me lately – the power of our thoughts. I’m tempted to write a whole dissertation on why I find this topic so interesting, but I want you to have time to read the article! So I’ll let you go for now.

Let me know if you have any questions, comments, insights after reading the article!

WordPress

Can Negative Thoughts Make You Sick? The Science of How Thinking Affects Your Body

I learned something new – Rock Pods!

Well, I’ve been practicing neurosomatic therapy for about 3 months now. I’ve learned a lot. And I have A LOT to still learn! One thing I’ve noticed is how important it is to be mindful of my body while treating patients. I’ve been using my thumbs too much, which is a habit I need to break ASAP.

So, in an effort to get some relief for my poor pollicis, I took a Rock Pods course yesterday! Rock Pods are a silicon cupping option offered by the company Rock Tape. On Instagram I saw a Rock Tape instructor demoing how to use the pods to mobilize a scar, and it immediately caught my interest. How handy to be able to essentially attach handles to the skin and pick it up and move it!!

The class was great – for the price of tuition I got 6 hours of education, a Rock Pod set, and a RockBand Flex (a stretching band). The pods are super easy to apply and have a variety of benefits and uses:

  1. They create space between the layers of the skin, superficial fascia, deep fascia, and muscle, allowing more room for fluid to move through the layers (creating more slide and glide between the layers).
  2. They decrease “corticol smudging” which means that they improve the sensory map in the brain, which decreases pain and improves motor control. Basically, using the pods helps the brain understand what is happening in the body more clearly, which can down-regulate pain.
  3. The feeling of touch (which can be provided by the pods) promotes the release of nerve growth factor, again improving proprioception and motor control.
  4. This one I need to study more – the pods encourage the body to release heme oxygenate, which is an enzyme that breaks down heme (described as “blood garbage” by our instructor). When heme is not broken down, it leads to oxidative stress and inflammation, tissue injury, fibrosis, and excessive scar formation. When the heme oxygenase breaks down the heme, it release carbon monoxide (among other things), which modulates pain in the spinal cord.
  5. Cupping can also stimulate the immune response and decrease inflammation.
  6. The cups can also be used as a visual and tactile (aka haptic) tool to cue movement.

I am excited to start using this option with patients! I’ll just need to remember to forewarn them about the visual effects of the pods (and prepare them for lots of questions from curious strangers). 🙂 As you can see below, the marks are VERY noticeable, at least on me.

This first picture was taken right after class:

This picture was taken today:

Hit me up if you want to play/experiment with these fun tools!

Hope you have a fabulous Sunday!!

Welcome to my Mindpage

I’ve been trying to succinctly describe what this website and blog is for and about. And I keep coming back to, it’s about all the things I find interesting and want to write about. 🙂 I’m on a journey of discovery to figure out life, the universe and everything. I’m 42, so I guess that’s appropriate.

ANYWAY, I have to get ready for worky-poo, so I can’t write much, but it’s been AGES since I’ve written, and I had to break the seal on that, so that the words can start flowing again. So, more to come shortly.

Happy Friday and go do something fun that makes you laugh and move in a way you haven’t in the past week or month! Here is a picture of my brothers and me that you can use as inspiration. Put a measuring cup on your head as a hat, and see how it makes you feel. 😛


Hlo Heaven

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!

 

 



 

 

The Fabulous, Fantastic, Fearless Foot

I now know ALL the muscles in the body.  Ha! I wish.  I mean, I think I’ve probably learned about all the muscles in the body, but I don’t remember them all.  Yet.  We just finished up learning about the lower body, all the way down to the feet.  I had no idea that feet are so complicated!!  As we learned in class, the complex nature of the feet makes them capable of amazing feets/feats (get it!!), but it also makes them prone to a variety of issues.  How many people do you know that have bunions or plantar fasciitis or heel spurs or hammer toes?  A lot of these issues are caused by misuse/abuse of the feet.  I’m going to try to provide a very high level overview of the feet and then show you what you can do to bring relief and increased awareness to the feet.  And before I forget to mention it, if you have any of these issues, neurosomatic therapy can help!!  I graduate in February, so come see me!!

Ok.  First of all.  Let’s look at the boney structure of the foot.  You have the big heel bone (aka calcaneus), on top of which sits the talus, which fits into an arch (aka mortise) made by your shin bone (aka tibia) and fibula (the bone that’s on the outside of your lower leg).  This forms the joint of the ankle.  Next you have an assortment of oddly shaped bones that fit together like puzzle pieces – the navicular, cuboid, and cuneiforms.  Next you have the long skinny bones of your foot, the metatarsals, which connect to your toes, which are made up of phalanges.  Here is a picture to give you an overview:

These bones are held together by tons of ligaments (very strong connective tissue), and connecting with these bones are all the muscles of your lower leg and foot.  These ligaments and muscles maintain the two arches of your foot. Yes! There are two arches down there!  There is the longitudinal arch, which forms your instep.  And then there is the transverse arch, which goes horizontally across your foot.  These two arches work together to absorb force from the ground and transmit it up the body.

Man, I’m just getting started.  I really wanted to discuss the the muscles IN the foot too.  Did you know there are TWELVE of them (depending on how you count them) and FOUR separate layers of muscles?  Just bonkers. But we’ll have to discuss the bonkeriness in another post because this one is already getting too long.

Let’s get to the really fun stuff. What can you do if you have foot pain?  One easy thing to do is to get a small, soft ball (I recommend a Yoga Tune Up® ball, due to its squishy, pliable nature) and step on it.  Yep.  Just stepping on the ball will increase your awareness of your feet and start to dissolve tension between all those tiny joints.  Here is a video that will guide you through an eye-opening foot roll.

You can also increase awareness of your feet (and help bring energy down from that monkey mind into your feet, which is very grounding) by meditating on your feet.  Here is a 10 minute meditation that will guide you through that.

Hopefully you have a better understanding of your amazing feet now!  I hope you find some time to give your feet some love today.  Let me know what you think of the video and or meditation.

Have a great Sunday!