Awakening, Health & Fitness, Yoga

On The Hardness of Going Soft

Tim and I took a perfectly timed trip to Florida over Christmas break. We left at 5AM on Christmas day and just positively SAILED down to Destin, FL.  We were there in 15 hours, even with pee and fuel breaks.  There was NO traffic, and the time passed swiftly due to some fascinating podcasts and the audio version of Wheel of Time: Eye of the World.  We returned home on Thursday, right before Davenport got buried in about 6 inches of fluffy white stuff that was most definitely not sand.  On our way back north, we saw so many instances of cars at a standstill going south.  Sometimes it really pays to go against the grain!  😛

We had 4 full days down in Florida.  Our hotel was right on the beach, so our days consisted of waking up (without an alarm), partaking of the free hotel breakfast (the Fairfield Inn hot breakfast is really not bad!  They actually had protein options instead of just bagels, oatmeal and sugary yogurts), grabbing our gear, and heading to the beach.  We sat on the beach, read, watched the waves, actually got into the water a VERY little bit, headed to town for lunch, came back to the beach for more reading, watching, wading, then walked or drove to supper, and then tried to watch TV in the hotel (SO MANY COMMERCIALS), and then went to sleep.

It was so eye-opening how HARD it was to actually let ourselves relax though. 

Should we “make the most” of being there and DO more stuff – go stand-up paddle boarding, go hiking, check out museums, visit Seaside (the town where Truman Show was filmed), find all the best restaurants?? 

We decided that outside the door of our hotel was a gorgeous ocean with soft white, squeaky sand dissolved from quartz ages ago.  That was enough to appreciate for 4 days.

Ft. Walton Beach, Florida

While at the beach I read a really amazing book, Healing Ourselves – Biofield Science and the Future of Health.  The whole book is about our ability to heal ourselves and others via energy practices.  At face value that may sound very woo woo, but there are dozens of studies that show the healing power of our thoughts, attention, and intention (what do you think causes the placebo effect!).  Two things are very clear from the research the author relays in the book:

  1. We are all interconnected.
  2. We have so much more power to heal ourselves that when have been taught. 

I plan to dive in to the practices outlined in the book and will share with you the ones that I love.  In the meantime, to explore the concept of self-healing for yourself, you could start simply by taking a moment to notice your feet on the ground, soften up those soles, think about plugging your feet into the earth like you would plug your charger into a wall socket.  Notice the energy in your feet, calves, and upper legs.  Take a moment and ask yourself, “Who do I want to be today?”  Set that intention for the day (I prefer to write it down to make it more concrete and visible), revisit it often, and see what changes in your experience of your physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual self/layer/body.

Space to be Human Updates

  • If you were unable to make it to my Introduction to Meditation class, but you are interested in the topic, you’re in luck!  I recorded the class, and you can watch it here at your leisure.  Feedback and suggestions are much appreciated!  If this class piques your interest, and you would like help in developing a meditation practice, you can book a session with me here.
  • Did you know that the Quad Cities is hosting its very own yoga festival?? The QC YogaCon will be held March 4-6, and guess who is teaching!  Me!  I am teaching a Yoga Tune Up® class (Total Tension Tunedown) on 4/5 at 4PM.  You can find more details here.

That’s all for today, my friends!  Happy 2nd day of 2022!  Please reach out to me at heather@spaceotbehuman.life or book a session with me here if you would like to feel better in your body.

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Awakening, Health & Fitness, Yoga

On #Winning & Secret Desires

We are at the start of new year, which means it’s time to run a Lessons Learned to close out this project that is Life in 2021.  What went well?  What could we do better next time? 

What Went Well

Why should we review “What Went Well?” Oh for SO many reasons!

  • Our brains are wired for negativity, which is a helpful yet annoying survival mechanism.  We downplay our successes, and we latch on to our failures.  Does any of the following sound familiar?
    • We get our annual review.  The boss says, “You did an amazing job this year.  We love you.  You’re awesome.  Next year we would like you to show more leadership on your projects.”  What runs through your brain?  “Shit.  I’m a loser.  I should have been more assertive.  I should have worked more.  I better start looking for a different job…”  So much good feedback, yet we glom on to that little bit of feedback and use it as proof that we are a failure.
    • Here’s a personal example.  A few weeks ago, I co-presented on the topic of Emotional Intelligence for Lead(h)er.  Public speaking is a big trigger of panic for me, but by using some calming techniques and mindset work, I was able to keep my voice from shaking, I logically went through the material, and my face did not freeze into any weird contortions.  But.  Then came the Q&A.  A question popped up that did not compute in my brain.  I stumbled through some answer that I’m not sure made any sense or that even remotely addressed the question.  So – great little presentation where I actually exhibited some poise and overcame something very scary for me  – but the rest of the night I had a pit in my stomach, and my mind kept recycling the core belief, “I suck.”  Fun times!
  • We need about a 3:1 ratio of positivity to negativity to offset the negativity bias.
  • Life moves fast, and we are usually focused ever on the future.  “What do I have to do tomorrow, next week, next month to move towards my goals?”  But, Baby, look at how far you’ve come!!  You’ve grown SO much, accomplished so many of your goals, Past You would look at Current You and be like, “Daaaaammmnnn – that’s me?!”  Take some time to relish this.

What are your Wins, your Successes, your Peaks for 2021?  Don’t be shy!  Write them out.  Send them to me or share them with a friend.  Get them down on paper and DOCUMENT THEM.  Brag!  Don’t let self-judgement hold you back you in this exercise.  When it pops up, say, “Thank you, Sir, for trying to keep me safe and small, but I don’t need you right now.”  And Write.

Here are a few of the things I accomplished in 2021 that make me proud:

  • My therapy practice almost tripled.
  • I worked with a psychologist and a life coach and did a lot of work on learning how to feel what I am feeling (instead of stuffing it down to deal with “later”) and how to question the stories on constant, speedy, reflexive repeat in my head.
  • I asked and was granted a decrease in my hours at the bank, enabling me to put more time into my therapy practice.  And I was able to deal with the, “Oh God, Oh God, how am I going to have enough money?!?!” fairly well.
  • I co-presented 2 Emotional Intelligence presentations, which made me super duper DUPER nervous.  One of the worst case scenarios actually did happen during the first presentation – the network at the presentation location was down, so none of the A/V equipment worked.  We printed out the slides as a fail-safe, only to scramble madly when the network came up minutes before the presentation was scheduled to begin.  But, BIG BREATH, it all ended up totally fine.
  • I put my money where my mouth was and hired a personal trainer, and I’m getting stronger. I overcame one of my most favorite thoughts, “I’ll do it later, when I feel like it.”

What could we do better next year?

I propose a new take on this.  Instead of thinking about things that went sideways and how we could keep them on track next time.  Let’s think about what we want for next year.  What do you desire for next year?  Better yet (and thanks to my coach, Kate Reuter for this question), what do you SECRETLY desire? No one else has to know besides you and your pen and your paper.  If anything was possible, what would you desire?   

Don’t be alarmed if you try this exercise only to find out you don’t know what you want.  You might know what you DON’T want (that one is a lot easier).   Ask yourself, if you DID know what you want, what would that be?  If you are an intuitive, empathic person, chances are you are used to having your feelers attuned to what everyone around you wants.  So when you ask yourself this question, you may just get a blank stare.  But trust me.  You do know what you want.  You just need to practice asking and listening.  Again, bring self-compassion, non-judgement, and a sense of massive curiosity to this.  THERE ARE NO WRONG ANSWERS!  If you do it wrong, you’re doing it perfectly.  😛

To give credit where credit is due, I’m borrowing, mixing, and integrating the work of so many people in this post.  Here are links to my main teachers, should you care to dive into this stuff more:

The Life Coach School Podcast – How To Be Proud of Yourself

Kate Reuter Coaching

Dr. Yoga Momma – Yoga for the Mind program

Lashaun Dale

I hope you can find some time to reflect on the year and appreciate how far you’ve come!

And that is it for today.  As always, if anything I wrote piques your interest, and you want to know more, holler at me.  And if you need help with reducing pain, improving your performance, or with feeling more at home in your body, you can book with me here

Have a fabulous day!

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

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.

BUT

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!

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!

Uncategorized

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/.

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!

 

 

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. 🙂

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® 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!