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

On The Power of the Pause

Life is moving fast. Even in COVID times. I hear many people say that this has been a year to reflect, to slow down, to Be instead of Do. I have no doubt that was/is true for a lot of people, but I think that peoples’ experiences of 2020 are as varied as the shells on a beach. Tim and I were blessed in that neither of us lost our jobs; we actually have had the opposite experience – we have been super busy with work and multiple jobs. Busy to the extent that we have felt as if we have no time to slow down!

But, as I continue my dive into learning about what makes a Human Being thrive (not just survive), it’s become abundantly clear how important it is to Pause.

To Pause between the exhale and the inhale.

To Pause after moving your body in a new way to see what has shifted.

To Pause to appreciate THIS moment – this moment that will never Be again.

To Pause to notice the progress we have made and to appreciate the process and not get fixated by the destination.

To Pause and let your feet actually sink into the ground beneath your feet instead of skimming across the surface.

To Pause and notice before responding.

To Pause and notice that what you are thinking might not be true.

To Pause and widen your gaze, hear the leaves rustle, feel the breeze play with your hair, smell the wet earth.

To Pause and see what it’s really like to live from within a Human Body, not above it it or in front of it, but from within it.

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. ūüôā

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, 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 ūüôā ), 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¬ģ 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¬ģ 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¬ģ 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¬ģ Method Trainings at CNS! ¬†One of my teachers from my Yoga Tune Up ¬ģ 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. ¬†ūüôā

Here are the links to the classes:

The Roll Model¬ģ Method – The Science of Rolling

The Roll Model¬ģ 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¬ģ 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!

 

 

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

The Electricity of Touch

I’ve long been fascinated with science fiction. ¬†I grew up watching Dr. Who, Star Wars, Star ¬†Trek, Misfits of Science. ¬†I loved Madelaine L’Engle’s books, as well as The Girl With Silver Eyes, Dune, anything by Ursula K Le Guin, Lord of the Rings. ¬†I was so hopeful that there was magic in the world, that we are not just flesh, bone, and blood. ¬†I wanted powers.

And as I get older and find some moments of quiet and observation, I realize that I DO have powers. ¬†The world really does not operate in a linear, A+B = C function. ¬†It’s wiley and impressionable and moldable and multifaceted. ¬†With every interaction, there are innumerable forces at play, most of which cannot be seen, felt, or heard. ¬†Or maybe they can be, but we’ve lost the art of reliably, consciously doing so.

And what is truly fascinating, is that now there are studies that prove that that as humans, we are energetically entangled with each other. ¬†You can read one of the studies¬†here. ¬†The gist of it is, there is an exchange of electromagnetic energy when people touch (especially with the right hand) or are close together (within 18 inches). ¬†If a person consciously adopts a “sincere caring attitude,” it could positively affect the heart rhythm of people within their proximity!!

Here is a quote from the study that I find really intriguing, “…when individuals focus their attention in the area of the heart and consciously generate a positive emotion, the heart rate variability patterns become more orderly and coherent,” and “…individuals who intentionally increase their cardiac coherence by maintaining a focused state of sincere love or appreciation can induce changes in the structure of water and the conformational state of DNA.” ¬†The study goes on to imply that a therapeutic technique could become more effective by the practitioner adopting a “sincere caring attitude.”

This gives me so much hope! ¬†I have learned so much in the past 14 months, but I know I still know NOTHING! ¬†But at least, now I know, if I really care about my patients, my touch will be beneficial to them – even if I’m not treating the exact muscle that needs to be treated. ¬†My touch, generated from a place of compassion and positive intent, can be a “magic” power that helps my patients feel better!

What do you think of this article?  Do you notice effects in your body when you are around a positive person versus a negative person?  Do you think you can affect people solely with your positive atttidue?  I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments. <3

 

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

Butt Stuff

Yep. ¬†Are you like Troy Barnes? ¬†Do you love Butt Stuff? ¬†¬†Well then you’re in luck! ¬†We covered Butt Stuff this week. ¬†And by “Butt Stuff” I mean all that meat that covers your backside. ¬†Did you know that there are actually 3 different gluteal muscles that make up “the glutes”? ¬†Yes! It’s true.

The gluteus maximus is the big boy, as the name implies. ¬†It runs from the lateral edge of your sacrum all the way out to your femur (the long bone in the top of your leg). ¬†The top part of the muscle merges into the IT band on the outside of the leg, and the lower portion attaches to the back of your femur. ¬†But underneath that are two more glute muscles! ¬†The gluteus medius lies underneath the maximus, and underneath THAT lies yet another muscle – the gluteus minimus. ¬†Please see my quick sketch below to get an idea of how these muscles lie in relation to each other. ¬†And yes, I forgot the “l” in gluteus minimus and had to go back in and squeeze it in later. Thank you, Tim, for the .388mm pens. ūüôā

Underneath all of these layers are the deep rotators of the hip, but I’ll have to save those for another blog post, or this will get too massively long, and I have a test to study for! ¬†And a bike ride and brunch to do!

So, your glutes. ¬†Why are they important? ¬†Well, glute max is the largest muscle in the body and can be up to 2 to 3 inches thick! Consequently, it can have a huge impact on postural distortions. ¬†The glute group can cause pelvic extension (a “tucked” tail), pelvic projection (where the hips are thrust forward of the feet and knees), a pelvic tilt (where one side of the pelvis is higher than the other), external rotation of the femur (“duck feet”), and low back pain. ¬†These muscles can also mimic sciatic pain – sending trigger point referrals into the buttocks and down the back and side of the leg.

Issues with the glutes are quite common, considering we are supposed to use them to MOVE all day long, but we generally just use them to SIT all day long instead. As a result, many people have difficulties activating their “sleepy” glutes. ¬†This became really evident to me when I took a Yoga Tune Up¬ģ workshop where we went through the following guided practice:

  1. Lay on the floor, legs straight out (aka savasana).
  2. Try to squeeze your right butt check.  Try the left. Do you know notice any difference in power/contraction?  How far did your hips lift off the floor with each squeeze?
  3. Take a massage therapy ball (a Yoga Tune Up ball, a tennis ball, etc.) and place it under the thickest part of just the right butt cheek.
  4. Contract the right butt cheek for 20 seconds, as you release the contraction, the ball will sink deeper into the glutes.  Repeat 2-3 times, sinking deeper each time.
  5. You can rock your body slowly side to side over the ball.
  6. Without sitting up, reach under your glute and remove the ball.
  7. Let your awareness settle back into the glutes.  Does the right side feel any different than the left?  Any changes in temperature?  sensation?
  8. Contract the right butt cheek. Then the left.
  9. Do you notice any difference in power/activation/sensation in the right side?

If you were like me, you were like, “OMG. ¬†My right side has so much more power now!!!” ¬†You just woke up your butt!!

The YTU balls are great for increasing proprioception and awareness of these muscles, and with regular use, you can keep these muscles active and reduce the chronic tension that is held there.  At the Center for Neurosomatic Studies, we are trained to treat this group of muscles VERY specifically.  In addition to treating the muscle belly (which is what you contact with the balls), we get into the attachments and different layers of tissue, and we can even get into that trough on the medial aspect of the greater trochanter.  The combination of self-massage and bodywork is super helpful for this powerhouse.

Let me know if you have any questions or comments.  If you try the exercise described above, let me know how it feels for you.  I personally store a lot of tension in my glutes, so when I get them treated or I roll them out, I feel super relaxed and down-regulated afterwards.  Good luck waking up your butt!

 

 

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

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 Рthink 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 Рdomed 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¬ģ 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 Рwe 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!

Hlo Out!

 

 

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

On being overwhelmed by free-time

Yep. ¬†I’m on a break from school. ¬†So that means I have no homework to do today. ¬†I have a day off. ¬†No work. ¬†No homework. ¬†Just a day to do what I want. ¬†Oh my God, that is so much pressure!!!

I have this big, long list of things I would do, if I ever had free time. ¬†For example – paint, draw, write, learn to play the ukulele, go to a group exercise class, re-read ALL the things I have already read because I would understand them so much better now, finish one (or many) of the on-line classes I purchased, watch one of the youtube videos open in one of my 10 browser tabs, book a Disney trip for our anniversary, etc. ¬†But, when I get a free day like this, I get a bit overwhelmed by all the options, and it’s also difficult to figure out what I “FEEL” like doing.

So what do I usually end up doing? ¬†Looking at Facebook, shopping on Amazon, going out for lunch, having a drink, watching TV. ¬†Well, at least that is pretty much what I did Saturday and Sunday. ¬†But today. ¬†Today will be different. ¬†Today I meditated. I went for a walk and listened to Katy Bowman. ¬†I am making a slow-roasted garlic pork roast. ¬†And I’m writing a blog post. ¬†It’s a whole new Hlo today. ¬†It’s a breezy day – I can feel a hint of autumn in the air, even down here in Florida. ¬†I think it’s blowing in a good change.

I really do feel a change occurring lately, despite my weekend of semi-non-productiveness.  I have been meditating every day since mid-June.  While I often feel as if I am not really FOCUSED on my primordial sound mantra while I am meditating, as my teacher promised, I think that the daily practice works magic, even if I get lost in thought while doing the practice.

My teacher told me that “every meditation is perfect,” which has really helped me be OK with the rampaging monkey mind that I experience every day while trying to focus on my mantra. ¬†I will realize that I am miles away from my mantra and pull myself back to it, but instead of getting super annoyed and frustrated, I tell myself, “This is perfect” and feel gratitude that I recognized that my mind took off and that I could bring it back to what I WANT to focus on.

Between the meditation and reading “Everything is here to help you” by Matthew Kahn, my perspective on life outside of meditation has changed as well. ¬†While I still feel annoyance, anger, frustration when things don’t go the way that is convenient and comfortable to me, these entrees of emotions are experienced with a ¬†complementary side of observation. ¬†I can watch the emotion bubble up and pair it with the thought, “Everything is perfect. ¬†Everything happens the way it’s supposed to happen. ¬†This is all happening because it’s supposed to happen. What is this teaching me?” ¬†Sometimes I ignore the voice (and get annoyed with it!! ha!!!) and let myself revel in the energy of the emotion, and sometimes I can detach a bit and watch and choose.

This is the path I am traveling down right now. ¬†It’s a practice and a process. ¬†Hopefully as I keep putting energy into approaching life this way, I will get better at it and will have more clarity, confidence, and focus and will be less distracted by the easy path of numbing and procrastinating.