After further thought…


My students Thursday night asked me a couple of questions that I was not really prepared to answer.  I tossed out the first thing that came to the top of my head, but after further reflection, I have more to add. It takes awhile for my brain to get into gear!

Question 1:  What is the biggest change I have noticed with doing yoga regularly?

This one caused a rush of conflicting thoughts in my head, even though it seems like a simple question.  A lot of this tumult of thought circled around, “I don’t actually DO yoga regularly!”  I have a varied movement practice – I jog a couple of days a week, I lift a couple of days a week, I attend a yoga class once every couple of weeks, I do one of Jill Miller’s videos once or twice a week.

I’m conflicted about even calling myself a yoga teacher, in point of fact, because I feel as if it can give people the impression that I practice 6 days a week for 90 minutes everyday, and I can do handstands and splits and crazy binds.  I can’t do any of that stuff, so I don’t teach any of that stuff.  I help people understand their bodies better with the aid of the Yoga Tune Up® balls and mindful mobility and strengthening work.  We crawl, we swing, we roll, we look at pictures of muscles in books.  Is that “yoga”?  Technically yes (as I understand it), but I fear it’s not what people typically consider yoga to be.

So once all of that darted through my head, I settled back on the question – what is the biggest chance I have noticed?  I told the class that after taking the YTU Level 1 training, I noticed that I felt myself stacked over my feet better – like I wasn’t leaning forward all the time.  That was the biggest change for me.

And that is true, but, upon reflection, what I have really noticed from my mindful movement practices is that I have more Awareness now.  I notice when my shoulders start to creep up around my ears, I notice when I start breathing shallowly, I notice when random parts of my body tense up (like my hands or my belly), I notice (with a slight bit of detachment) when I feel annoyed or angry, I notice when my mind is going a million miles per minute.  Sometimes I just notice these things. Sometimes I notice them and then try to change them – I will stretch, or roll on the balls, or reflect on whether it’s worth it to get angry about this situation.  That Awareness is what I have noticed most from doing yoga.

Question 2:  Does it ever get better, or do you have to constantly work at it (re: muscle tightness)?

My answer to this was, you really do need to keep working at it.  You can’t just roll and relax and be done with it.  You need a relaxation maintenance package. 🙂

And that is true!  But what I forgot to mention was that if you change your habits (especially postural habits), you can start to alleviate tension all over the body.  For example, if you stack your ears over your shoulders, it releases strain in the back of the neck, the back of the head, the tops of the shoulders, and the jaw.

So, while you still should continue to move your body as much as possible (whether in “yoga” or some other mindful movement practice), if you move your body BETTER and use Awareness to re-position yourself in a joint-stacked position, you will over time reduce pain and tension in the body.  Instead of trying to fit another exercise class into your day to keep yourself supple, you can continuously adjust yourself as you are walking, reading, doing the dishes, working at your computer.  As Katy Bowman always says, Stack Your Life!  Improve your mobility while doing the other things in life you have to do.

I’m still not sure that fully answers both questions, but if I wait until I have a perfect answer, I will never get this posted!

Hope you are having a great Memorial Day weekend and that you can get out outside, put your toes in the grass, laugh with your friends and family, and eat delicious food!

 

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New Yoga Sequence on YouTube!


Hey-O!  I’ve gone and done it.  I bought a new microphone, so I could film some high-quality yoga videos. I plugged the mic in, did a 2 second test, and replayed the video.  NO SOUND!!  So I plowed forward, sans microphone, filming a 30 minute video.  Come to find out, you have to REMOVE the mic from the phone during the replay in order to actually hear the audio. Live and learn, right??

Anyway, the point of my rant is not my lack of technical prowess, but rather the fact that I filmed a 30 minute yoga video that will help with spine health.  The video is not amazing.  You can’t see the left side of my body.  BUT, you can generally get the gist of what I am instructing you to do, and you will feel better in your gorgeous bod if you do what I am instructing you to do, so I’m calling that a win.

Here is the link:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCXubOPoS9s&feature=youtu.be.

Enjoy and let me know what you think in the comments!

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Where Worlds Collide


Last week I attended the Iowa Women Lead Change Conference in Cedar Rapids, IA.  It was a really amazing conference, with a lot of thought-provoking speakers.  But what really blew my mind, was that when I went to the Dubuque Yoga and Oneness Festival two days later, a lot of the same concepts were presented.  The scientific research community is finally starting to prove to the the corporate world that what yogis have been saying for thousands of years is actually true.

Here is a brief overview of the cross-pollination – it centers mostly around how 1) we are all connected and 2) the words we use with others and ourselves have a powerful impact on bodies.  I’m presenting this in list form because lists make my brain feel good. 🙂

  1. Action conquers fear.
  2. Progress not perfection.
  3. We underestimate our ability to recover from failure.
  4. Most people talk themselves out of their dreams.
  5. Stop telling yourself what you are not good at – Growth mindset vs. Fixed mindset.
  6. Women are critical to business success because we have a drive for meaning and purpose.  We have strong communication skills and are relationship-focused.
  7. MRI – Most Respectful Interpretation
    1. Interrogate reality – consider your filters: attitudes, beliefs, truths, opinions.
  8. Act from a place of values and vision.  Be authentic!
  9. Pause boldly – don’t let the amygdala (your ancient brain) boss you!
  10. BREATHE to bring the heart into a coherent rhythm and by doing so increase brain performance.
  11. Relaxed brains have more Aha! moments.
  12. We need Periods of Silence in our lives.
  13. Screen time dulls your capacity to think.  After 90 minutes of screen time, take a 20 minute break.
  14. Choose your words wisely.  An employee’s brain lights up when they hear positive words from her manager.  When she hears negative words, 11 regions shut down, and the effect lasts for hours.
  15. Emotions are contagious.
  16. Saying Thank You to an employee releases oxytocin (feel good hormone) in his brain.
  17. Yoga helps get your body into a coherent state.
  18. True failure comes from not trying.
  19. Mindfulness practices are a good way to deal with overwhelm
  20. Our brain does best when we are around others who care about us.
  21. Exclusion lights up the same parts of the brain that are lit up when physical pain is felt.
  22. The brain is hard-wired to belong.
  23. The ancient brain is kind of a jerk. It’s an efficient jerk though.  It quickly grabs on to patterns and integrates them to make decisions.  That is where stereotypes begin.  But we can PAUSE and consciously react differently.
  24. We cannot multi-task!!  The brain just toggles really quickly between tasks and loses 20-30% productivity in the process.
    1. Busy-ness does NOT equal productivity.
  25. We need Rest, Stillness, Mindfulness.
  26. Be mindful of outsiders and pull them in.

Based on that list, where do you think I learned that information?  At the Yoga Festival?  NOPE!  That is what all these smarties and PHds and authors at the conference shared with us!!

But that is basically what I learned at my day at the conference too.  Our thoughts, our heartbeats, our cellular material are all intermingled and shared with the people around us.  Where do “I” leave off exactly, and where does “Other” begin?

I think this article is already long enough, so I will hold off on sharing more from the conference for now. I hope you found this information as interesting as I did!  If you want to learn more, you can check out the following people:

  • Carey Lohrenz : http://careylohrenz.com
  • Sallie Krawcheck: https://www.ellevatenetwork.com/team/sallie-krawcheck
  • Jenn Bleil: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jennifer-bleil-28a5765/
  • Jill Saunders: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jillsaundersprofile/
  • Dr. Steve L. Robbins: http://slrobbins.com
  • Jeff Masters: http://www.jeffmasters.net

 

 

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May Workshops


I have 2 brand new workshops going on at Indigo this month, as well as an old favorite. I would love to see you there!

Location: Indigo Wellness 1621 5th Avenue, Moline IL 61265

Cost per workshop: $25 per 90-minute class or $20 if you register 5 days before the event.

Only 15 spots available, so reserve your spot early at indigowellness.info/Services & Prices/Workshops.

62 Point Rolling and Relaxation Meditation – May 9th 5:45PM – 7:15PM

When you try to “live in the moment” or meditate or focus on ANY ONE THING for more than 8 seconds, do you quickly get frustrated, tense, and angry with yourself?  Meditation and mindfulness are supposed to help RELIEVE stress, not CAUSE it.  But our hyper-active brains often have a hard time slowing down and being okay with inactivity.

I have been, um, “blessed” with an overly analytical, over-active mind. Somatic-based meditations (where your brain is guided through the body) are one of the few types of meditation that can handle my monkey mind.  If this sounds familiar to you, I invite you to join me for this class.

We will begin class with a somatic meditation, guiding the mind through 62 points on the body.  We will then use the Yoga Tune Up® therapy balls on all of the 62 points, bringing the mind’s awareness into each of those areas and letting it settle there for a few moments.  At the end of class, we will go through the 62-point meditation a final time, allowing time for the mind to observe the improved mind-body connection that comes with rolling.  You may find that the combination of tactile sensation (rolling) and guided somatic meditation is a gateway to the calm you seek.

The Primal Core – May 16th 5:45PM – 7:15PM

Ahh.  The Core.  It’s “engaged” in almost every single yoga or exercise class, and we all want a toned, sexy one. But what is it really?  Why do we have such a love/hate relationship with it?  Why is it so important (beside looking good in a bikini/Speedo)?

In this workshop we will use Yoga Tune Up® therapy balls to relieve tension in the multiple layers of core – rolling out tissues from the neck to the base of the spine.  We’ll also use the Coregeous balls to start to tune in to our bellies and stimulate digestion.

This class will also include a brief introduction to the Primal/Paleo lifestyle. You’ll learn why this approach is helpful for many people, and you’ll leave with some helpful tips on how to start to incorporate healthy habits such as eating whole foods, moderating sugar intake, and developing good sleep hygiene into your daily life.

Foundation Tune Up – May 23rd 5:45PM – 7:15PM

Your feet have a pretty thankless job.  They get stuffed into leather coffins all day, they can’t breathe, and they can barely move or wriggle. On top of that, they have to carry the weight of your entire body all day long.  And then the weekend comes, and you repeatedly slap them on unforgiving concrete for a several miles.  And then we curse them when they hurt.  Show them a little love and affection and take them out for a date night with the Yoga Tune Up® therapy balls.

In this workshop you will learn some fun and relaxing therapy ball techniques and mindful movements that will help you treat and train your foundation, all the way from the tips of your toes to the crest of your hips.

This class will be great for runners, cyclists, or walkers (or movers of any type).

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Foot Rollin’


One of my favorite things to do with the Yoga Tune Up® balls is roll the bottoms of my feet. It’s also one of my favorite things to teach.  It’s one of the most impactful areas to roll out. It relieves tension in the whole back body line, brings amazing awareness to the feet, and just generally blows peoples’ minds. 🙂

I made a 5 minute video showing how to roll out the feet. You can watch it here.  I only demo one foot, but don’t forget to do both feet (of course!).

I follow Katy Bowman’s advice and try to “stack my life.”  I keep a pair of YTU balls at work, and I roll my feet assiduously when I am on conference calls.  My feet are much more nimble (and bigger – I grew a shoe size!) now.

Let me know what you think in the comments!

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New Classes


Hola Folkses!!  I have 2 more workshops scheduled at Indigo.  Check out the Teaching Schedule page for detes.

In April I will be putting together at least 1 or 2 core-focused classes that will include   healthy eating ideas, simple recipes, and other ways to take care of the contents IN the gut and not just the muscles AROUND the gut.  Super excited to share all that I have learned through the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute and the Yoga Tune Up® Core Integration Immersion.

More to come!

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The dangers of learning


I just returned home this morning from my 5th Yoga Tune Up® training, the Core Integration Immersion. If you take a body and chop off the head, arms, and legs – well, not only would you have a horrible mess, but in the chunk left over, you have a good representation of the area we learned about in this immersion.

We spent each morning doing a core integration practice which consisted of rolling on the therapy balls to bring awareness into the tissues, and then we activated those tissues in typical Yoga Tune Up® fashion, which means activating them in fun and weird atypical ways. YTU is typically very atypical (see photos below as proof).  Thanks to our teacher, Dinneen Viggiano for taking these pictures!

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As with all trainings that I go to, I leave feeling as if I know NOTHING!!  The more I learn, the more I realize how little I know.  It’s pretty annoying to keep bumping up against one’s own ignorance over and over again, yet I keep doing it!!

However, I know that once my brain gets a chance to recover from being overstimulated, the information starts to soak in, and a tiny piece of a massively complicated puzzle clicks into place.  I integrate and absorb what resonates with me.  The feeling of overwhelm starts to subside, I get the pleasure of sharing my new knowledge with other people who will find it useful, and then I start thinking about what training class I am going to go to next.

Once I get a chance to digest all this information with both the brain in my head and the brain in my gut (yep – there is essentially another brain in that there Core), I will write some more posts on what I learned.  I also promised my brother a short video on how to do Uddihyana Bandha (a diaphragm exercise that has an insanely long list of benefits), so I will make a post about that as well.

So, thank you for reading, and more to come!!

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On Becoming a Roll Model


Well, it’s official!  I attended The Science of Rolling, Ball Sequencing & Innovation, turned in the homework and took the final. I am now a Certified Roll Model® Method Practitioner!  What does this mean, you ask?  It means that I can guide you through some really amazing self-myofascial sessions that will leave you feeling more relaxed, taller, and more attuned to your body.

One of my homework assignments was to create a 5 minute video where I teach all the rolling techniques.  The video is below.  This was our first shot, and it was chilly and overcast, so I called it good.  I learned a lot that I will incorporate into video #2, if/when we make it!  The video will give you a general idea of what I mean when I say either “ball-rolling” or “self-myofascial release.”  This sequence will also help relieve tightness in the ankles and knees (great for runners!!).

Calf Mash from Heather Longoria on Vimeo.

Basically you use the grippy, pliable Yoga Tune Up® therapy balls to lengthen muscles, relieve tightness and tension, hydrate tissues, and just generally make you feel better in your body.

I have been teaching these techniques at a yoga studio, private club, in private lessons, and in corporate yoga classes, and everyone falls in love with the balls after their first session. It is unbelievable how much change you can effect in the body with a few minutes of strategic rolling.  Self care is the best form of health care!

That is my update for now. If you are interested in finding out more about Yoga Tune Up® or the Roll Model®, hit me up in the comments or use the Contact Me link.

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I was published in Marks Daily Apple!


Hola Sweet Readers!  I realized that I forgot to tell you that my primal success story (5 years later) was published recently on http://www.MarksDailyApple.com.  You can read the article here.

Hope you are doing well and Take Care!

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Meditation Experiment of n=1


Shoot. I just logged in to make this post and realized that I haven’t made an update since starting the Primal Challenge.  So, here is the nutshell version:  I did awesome until about day 11 or 12, when we went to Front Street, and a glass of wine sounded really good, so I had one. And then off the wagon I went. I still did really well on my 10 minutes/day meditation and walking for 30 minutes/day.  But the no-alcohol for 30 days was a fail.    This lack of self-control on my part fascinates me. I don’t drink A LOT – just regularly, so why is it so hard for me to take a measly 3 weeks off?  I have an emotional/mental blind spot here that needs some work, I believe.

Anyway, what I really wanted to talk about today was my meditation practice.  I have been working with a therapist, trying to understand who I am and what I want. One way to do this, is to tune in to your intuition.  I have always been pretty intuitive, when it comes to interacting with other people, but when it comes to understanding how I myself feel and what I really want, my intuition fails me  – it’s yet another blind spot!

My therapist recommended using a mantra mediation. She handed me a sheet of Sanskrit phrases, with the English translation next to them. She encouraged me to pick one that resonated. I read, “Aieem Namah” and the English translation (My true self is playful and wise), and for some reason it literally made me laugh out loud. I loved the juxtaposition of the idea of being playful and wise. My mantra was chosen.

She guided me through a 15 minute meditation where we focused on bringing awareness to the body, then the breath, and then to the mantra.  The mantra became an anchor to bring my mind back over and over again as it continued to do what a mind does, which is think incessantly (and very annoyingly, I might add).  When, at the end up the meditation, she told me to let go of the mantra, I did so reluctantly. Having it there as a base of operations was comforting.

My therapist recorded the meditation and sent it to me. For the past 2-3 weeks, I have been listening to either the recording mediation, or my own internal version, for 15 minutes a day.  This is the first time I have ever really devoted myself to a single type of meditation for that long. What are the results?

The results are…interesting.  I feel as if I am less reactive, which is good. But I also feel as if I am more exposed – more raw and open to the energies of the people around me – even more open to the general unease of the entire populace of the U.S. right now.  Everything in my life is going quite well – work is very calm, my yoga workshops are going well, I am reading lots of interesting books, my family is fairly healthy and happy. There is no reason for me to be anxious. Yet I am anxious. Anxious in my chest – a physical sensation with no conscious mental driver. I feel something and do not know why.  I am pinning it on meditation and its opening of subtle body receptors.

But, honestly, the more I learn about us humans, the more I realize how unbelievably complex we are.  Everything we think, eat, drink, breathe, and do has a emotional, mental, and physical effect.  How does one parse out which of the varying inputs is the one causing the shift???  I need an Hlo in Universe B who could act as a control for my experiments.

Consequently, while I cannot with 100% conviction say that meditation is a good thing, I CAN say that I do believe it is making me more aware, more conscious, more in tune with the universe around me.  I look forward to it daily and even awake at 4:5oAM each morning to make sure I fit it in before my day slips through my fingers.

I will continue with this experiment and will let you know if I finally settle on a thumbs up or thumbs down re: meditation. Although, the older I get and the more I learn, the more I realize that the universe strives for balance in all things, so meditation, like anything in life, is probably not good or bad, it just is.

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