Health & Fitness, massage therapy, meditation, yoga nidra, somatic meditation, body-based meditation, meditation for beginners, Uncategorized, Yoga

On The Importance of Opposites

I recently started a 5-month certification program, called Yoga for The Mind. I’m doing the course with my teacher, Dr. Betsy Rippentrop (Heartland Yoga Studio in Iowa City, Iowa), so I can learn how to use yoga to improve mental health.

The class is ALL about the importance of the mind/body connection. And the more I learn about this topic, the more frustrated I am by the term “mind/body connection” because THERE IS NO SEPARATION BETWEEN THE MIND AND BODY. They are the SAME thing. It’s like talking about the “connection” of the front and back side of a coin.

But, while they are ONE, they are also DUAL. Much like how we as humans are Me but also We.

And so this concept of balance, tension of opposites, grounding down and lengthening up keeps coming up.

In Thursday’s class we talked about the Masculine and Feminine sides of the body. Energetically, the right side of the body is more masculine – more focused on doing, being disciplined, achieving, other-soothing (so interesting!!). The left side of the body is more feminine – more receptive, nurturing, trusting, self-soothing.

It’s interesting to note, “What side of the body do I have more issues?”

In neurosomatic therapy, we often observe that people have more injuries, more pain, more tension on one side versus the other. One explanation could be that one side of the body is longer than the other (a lower limb length inequality), resulting in a sacrum that’s tilted, which can cause imbalances in muscles, fascia, nerves. Another explanation could be the existence of a pelvic obliquity, where one ilium (hip bone) is flared in while the other is flared out – again causing imbalances in the form of a spiral that travels all throughout the body, often leading to one-sided pain.

But (or maybe AND), could another explanation be, that there is an imbalance in energies in the body – one side is more dominant, and we need to focus awareness on developing qualities of the opposite side?

Whether we are talking about structure (bones/tissue/fluids) or subtle energies, the solution seems to be the same – WORK WITH THE OPPOSITES.

If one side of your torso is compressed – stretch it! If you always turn your head to the left to look at your left monitor, put your email on your right monitor, so you start looking to the right more! If you are always going, going, doing, doing, thinking, thinking. TAKE A BREAK. Get out of your Head and into your Body. Spend some time doing restorative yoga. Use the urge to grab your phone and look at Facebook as a reminder to settle your energy into your pelvis and take some smooth, slow, breaths.

Many of us were raised in a culture that values Action, Achievement, Hard Work (it’s the American Way!), so we really need to work on instilling the more feminine qualities of intuition, cooperation, sensuality. Interesting side note – it is WAY more common with my clients to have more pain on the right side of their bodies!

One of my favorite yoga poses to offset the Drive of Daily Life is Constructive Rest. I guide you through the practice here. Please remember to Check In with your heart, mind, body before and after the practice, so you can prove to your Ego that it was time well spent. 🙂

Health & Fitness, massage therapy, meditation, yoga nidra, somatic meditation, body-based meditation, meditation for beginners, Yoga

Why do YOU need Space to Be Human?

I created Space to Be Human to provide people with bodywork, meditation, and mindful movement tools as a pathway to rediscover space for positive change.

Why would I need this form of therapy?

  • You want to feel better in your body.
  • You have nagging pain that won’t go away no matter what you do.
  • You want to learn self-care tools to address “issues in the tissues.”

What should I expect in a session?

  • We will chat about about your story, symptoms, and patterns.
  • Heather will do a postural assessment to identify areas of the body that may be constricted and use that info + your story + your symptoms to design a treatment plan that will help you reach your goals.
  • The treatment plan will address disregulation in your nervous system, muscles, and organs via manual therapy, breathwork, and movement.

Health & Fitness, massage therapy, meditation, yoga nidra, somatic meditation, body-based meditation, meditation for beginners, Uncategorized, Yoga

On Just Doing It

I’ve had a real bad case of “I don’t feeeeeel like it” lately. It’s often served with a side of, “I’ll do it tomorrow.” It’s a potent recipe for not getting *&#! done!

But, each day I am reminded that, I too, am getting old. I thought it wouldn’t happen to me. Somehow, with healthy eating and moderate exercise, I could forestall this fate.

But the grey hairs are glinting through the brown, catching the light with their steely, wayward shafts.

My body is getting all weird and mysterious and unpredictable – pretty sure it’s perimenopause.

I totally HATE driving after dark.

At some point, thousand of years of human history indicate that the tomorrows will run out.

I’ve deduced that my best option is to DO the thing, even if I don’t feel like it. Even if it’s not perfect. Even if it might not work. Even if I get embarrassed. Even if I’m inconsistent and don’t DO the thing EVERY day. I just need to do it.

So here is my gift of imperfection to you!

I hosted a Gratitude Workshop last week, and here are two goodies I would like to share with you:

  1. A worksheet you can use to review 2020, pulling out 3 good memories from each month. Warning – it’s hard!! In the workshop, we started with December and worked backwards. I only made it to September, truth be told. But just reviewing those few months gave us some good insights. At the end of the worksheet are 2 exercises that you can use to set yourself up for a positive 2021.
  2. A guided gratitude meditation (courtesy of ChangeToChill.org) to get your mind and heart in a good space to complete the worksheet.

Oh! And why Gratitude? It helps us focus on the positive, improve wellbeing, improves symptoms of illness and depression, results in more optimism and happiness, stronger relationships, more generous behavior, etc. Science says!! I probably should have led with that…

Let me know what you think of the worksheet and/or the meditation. If you have any burning questions on manual therapy, meditation, thought-work, send me a note!! I live to serve (and write).

Love, Hlo.

Health & Fitness, massage therapy, Uncategorized, Yoga

Space to be Human

Hello My Friends!

As you may have noticed, I finally completed my name change. Heather Longoria Bodywork & Yoga is now Space to be Human LLC.

When I work with you, my main intention is to help you discover more space – more space between the muscles and fascia of your body, more space between stimulus and automatic response, more space in your bodymind to see new ways of being, thinking, and doing in the world.

I also love the sentiment of grace that come with that phrase, “space to be human.” None of us has the Right Answer. The only way to find an answer that works for you or me or him or her specifically, is to approach life with a sense of discovery, curiosity, and humor – to have the grace and self-compassion to try new things and be OK with them not working out sometimes, and to celebrate when you find The Difference That Makes a Difference.

We all need that space to be human – to do our best, keep trying, and keep learning with and for each other. As a thank you for being part of my tribe and for getting to Month 11 of 2020 together, I am offering $25 off all sessions for rest of November 2020. Use code THANKYOU25 when booking here.

And if your spine has been feeling compressed and locked up from the weight of the world (or too much computer-time), here is a short movement practice you can do that will help you start to invite more space into your spine.

If you want more tips and videos like this, check out this article on posture that I wrote for Tune Up Fitness. So many good nuggets in there!

And with that, I’ll leave you be!

With love, Hlo

P.S. If any of your friends or family are struggling with pain or tension, I would so appreciate it if you would pass on my info to them. THANK YOU!

Health & Fitness, massage therapy, Yoga

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!

Health & Fitness, massage therapy, Uncategorized, Yoga

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.

Health & Fitness, massage therapy, Uncategorized

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!

Health & Fitness, massage therapy

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!!

Health & Fitness, kripalu, massage therapy, meditation, yoga nidra, somatic meditation, body-based meditation, meditation for beginners, Yoga

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!

 

 



 

 

Health & Fitness, massage therapy, meditation, yoga nidra, somatic meditation, body-based meditation, meditation for beginners, Yoga

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!