Episode 55 – Movement as Medicine with Lara Heimann
Listen to this episode here!
In this episode Rachel is joined by Lara Heimann, physical therapist and anatomy genius. They talk about the dreaded P-word (P-A-I-N) and Lara gives great advice on how to deal with physical discomfort long term. They talk about the dreaded text-neck that’s impacting young adults all across the globe and what remedies to take to avoid it (listen carefully because this applies to us all!). They also discuss myofascial release, how to stay well-aligned and injury free working a desk job, and the key to a healthy life: movement as medicine.
Rachel: Hi, and welcome to another episode of From The Heart: Conversations with Yoga Girl. Today I have a super exciting surprise guest, also a surprise guest for me, because I did not know she was coming to surprise me, I have the one and only, super amazing Laura Heimann on the show! Wooo! Welcome Laura! How are you feeling?
Lara: Awesome! Amazing. It’s so … so happy to be back!
Rachel: Happy to be back! It wasn’t that long ago that we did a podcast together. So, anyone who’s new who doesn’t know who Lara is, Lara is an amazing physical therapist, yoga teacher, anatomy genius, mom of two, vegan superstar … What am I missing?
Lara: I am from Princeton, New Jersey, I own a studio there, and I’m your co-facilitator. I lead the anatomy part-
Rachel: Or our teacher training.
Lara: Of our teacher training. Yes.
Rachel: Yay! And you are … do you ever call yourself a healer?
Lara: I … I don’t call myself that, and I think it’s because I really think that I facilitate healing, but the healing really happens from the individual. I just help it. I really believe that we all have this kind of inner … physician, for lack of a better word, that wants to heal, wants to help, and wants to be as balanced and free as possible. I feel like I’m more a facilitator. If you want to call it a healer, that’s such a compliment, but I think it’s more just I know enough to help people find their own kind of inner self, like we talked about before.
Rachel: Yeah, and specifically in terms of healing from physical pain and body stuff, and the overwhelming amount of questions that we have received, like last time when I was like, “I have Lara Heimann on the show, who wants to ask a question?” We got like 600 questions about peoples’ specific ailments and pain, which is very hard to diagnose on a podcast. So that’s not what we’re going to go into today. We’re going to talk about some more general stuff and things that everyone can apply.
[002:05] But let me share a little bit. So everyone who’s listening, if you heard last week’s episode, you know that I have been in immense, overwhelming pain for a really long time. And it’s just … It’s been, I don’t know, six of seven weeks where, like, I haven’t felt free in my upper back. It hasn’t been constant, intense, stabbing, shooting pain every day, but it’s been waking up every morning feeling really stuck and really tight and really tense. And I’ve spoken about that a little bit, and I’ve spoken about the emotional connection and the connection to stress, and when I feel overwhelmed, and then I get this stuck feeling.
Then last week Dennis went to Florida to do a half Ironman there. And I was alone with the baby for the first time in my life, which is … I felt ashamed saying that, because people are like, “Uh, I’m a single mom, I’ve been alone with my baby every day,” but I just haven’t been. I mean, I’ve had like a day alone a bunch of time, but I’ve never been like five days alone with her, and I was a little nervous about it, because I always have all of this support. But I thought we were going to have so much fun, it’s going to be all great, and then the day before he leaves, I wake up in the morning and I felt so awesome. I even, like, I did … and I haven’t felt good on a yoga mat in so long. So what I’ve done on a mat has been like super mellow. Doesn’t merit like an Instagram, anything. I haven’t shared anything from my practice at all. And then I felt so good the day before that I was like, I did two Instagram Lives, I flowed like three times that day. I was feeling all like, “I’m back in my body. Yay! Everything’s awesome!” Then in the morning I was like, “Dennis I feel so good in my body for the first time. I’m so great.” Then he brought the baby in and I bent over to pick her up and something said snap. It was like a snap, and my neck went, like, “Bye!” (laugh) And I couldn’t move, and I became completely paralyzed. I was like robot person, couldn’t shift, couldn’t look side to side, just, ugh.
[004:03] And I’ve shared a little bit about the journey through that and how my normal reaction is always, like, panic, frustration, and anger, and like, “I shouldn’t have done that! I shouldn’t have picked my baby up!” And all of this stuff. Which is, of course, insane, because we live life and of course I’m going to hold my baby and do the things I do.
Then, randomly, this whole week has just been like a series of events of insane things, where I in one day had, like, a really good massage, randomly, by a person I didn’t know. And then I went to acupuncture for the first time in a year, it was amazing. And then on my way from acupuncture I had this, like, “Enough is enough!” feeling. Like, I’m not going to live with this pain anymore! I’m going to research, I’m going to find people, I’m going to bring people here, I’m going to make my self my number one priority. And then I open the door to my house, and who is squatting behind the kitchen counter like a little weirdo? Lara Heimann! (laugh) Randomly in my kitchen in Aruba! You just like, yeah, tell me how the hell that happened, because-
Lara: Fairy godmother. (laugh)
Rachel: (laugh) Fairy godmother!
Lara: We had talked last week, and then we Skyped, because I really did, I could sense that you were in a lot of pain, and I know you’re really strong, and I know you are determined and so you don’t want to be sidelined. It’s more like, “I don’t have time to be in pain,” type of thing. But I could really sense that it was having more than just … this was a new sense. This was really troubling. I could sense it. And so last week I was like, “I need to get down there,” and you were joking, like, “Really?” And I thought about it, and then I had … I know. “Let me come down there, I just need to get my hands on you.
So … and I thought I didn’t really have time, so let’s try and do a Skype, and we did the noodling, which did help a little bit.
Rachel: Yeah, people asked about that.
Lara: I know!
Rachel: So, Lara was like, let’s do a FaceTime session for a little bit of rolling for your neck. She was like, “Do you have a pool noodle?” I was like, “What, for my pool? Are we doing this in the pool? Should I get naked? What’s going on?” She’s like, “No, get a pool noodle, because that’s how we roll the neck.” And I’ve never seen that before. Why a pool noodle?
Lara: It’s just a really great consistency. I mean, you felt it. It’s just … It’s like that just right amount of compression. So you can be on it, but it doesn’t feel tough. And the thing about a roller that size, or this noodle thing, is it distributes the force. So it’s not like, like, a ball can be good, like a tennis ball. Sometimes I think thicker or tougher than that is too much, because it really directs the pressure into one point, and that can be a lot on an area that’s been stuck, or has a lot of discomfort around it.
[006:53] Rachel: And what does it do if it’s a lot or too much? Because a lot of people will say, “Okay, you’re tight. Grab like a lacrosse ball or something super firm, go into the pain and roll roll roll.” And that’s not your way.
Lara: I’m not into that! I feel like our bodies are so smart if we actually tune in and listen. And to cause P-A-I-N, we’ll talk about why I like to spell it out, but really to cause that wincing sensation … I’ve had people always be like, “Oh yeah, I roll out my IT band, or I do this,” and I’m like … “And how’s it working for you?” They do it all the time, and it’s not getting any better. I’m like, that’s not how it works. It would improve and maybe you’d have to do some tune-ups. So, I think when you have some compression on it that’s not that type of, you know, where you have to wince, that’s what you’re aiming for.
[008:00] And so that’s why the noodle is really nice. It’s firm, you want the tissues to kind of melt around it so they’re releasing, but you’re not going into aggression, because when you go into kind of an aggressive … It’s like if you got an aggressive massage. Your body is the first communicator, and it does this, like, clench. You felt that, when somebody massages you and you’re like, “I’m trying to relax, I’m trying to relax,” but then everything starts to clench. Your body is really sensing, like, “This is too much.” And there are, from a nervous system perspective, there are receptors in the skin, in the connective tissue that have pain receptors in there. Whoops, I said the word. But they have receptors in there! They give you this sense of sensation.
Rachel: Is it true that you can over roll a part of the body so much that you’re little receptors die? Is that real?
Lara: I don’t know! I haven’t heard that.
Rachel: I heard that somewhere. You become, like, numb, people that over roll and they roll and roll and roll.
Lara: Wow, that’s intense! Yeah, that’s probably not a good idea.
Rachel: Maybe it’s not true. It’s a thing I heard.
Lara: Maybe that’s a warning. But yeah, it’s not a good idea. Like, if those receptors are speaking, we should listen. So it should feel like you can be there comfortably, is what I think. I’ve just thought that for the two decades plus that I’ve been practicing PT, that it’s not a good idea to cause people more discomfort. We want to try to help them be their own healers. So, the noodle is really great because it doesn’t … It wasn’t uncomfortable! Even when you were really not feeling great, it didn’t feel bad. It just allowed some of those bound up tissues that really … You know, and when they’re bound like that, they lose oxygen, that causes discomfort. It’s like a cycle. So just to kind of get them to be, like, not on guard all the time is the first line of defense.
Rachel: It’s such a different approach! The communication versus everything.
Lara: It is! You’re communicating. It really is. And we’ll talk more about that, but the connective tissue, the fascia that I talk about a lot, it is just this large communicative network.
Rachel: Tell us about fascia. What is fascia?
[010:00] Lara: So, fascia is … it’s literally connective tissues. So we are, as we were talking about earlier, we are like big bags of water, and we have to have things that connect us. To our bones, to our muscles, to our organs. And so fascia is this kind of wrapping. So you can think of it as a Saran wrap, or like, you and I both don’t eat chicken anymore, but we’ve seen a chicken breast and how there’s that layer of white coating, the goo, and that’s fascia. It’s like a webbing, a network that holds everything together and weaves everything together.
Rachel: How much fascia to we have in comparison to-
Lara: A shit load. A shit load. They used to, in anatomy labs, they used to take it out and put it in a centrifuge, because they thought it was just this kind of goo. Then they started realizing, like, “Whoa! This stuff actually has a purpose beyond just holding on to the muscle.” And they now know it has these communicative properties, the receptors, that tell you … get a sense of tension and discomfort and so … and it needs to have … It’s really a lot of water. It’s like water molecules on top of collagen and elastin, to be specific. And so if you don’t move, those water molecules kind of can dry up. So you do get this more brittle quality to it. But that’s always, always, you can always do something about that, through movement. It’s hydrating. So it brings that water molecule back into the fascial network.
Rachel: By moving your body.
Lara: By moving your body. So the fascia is really important because it … We talk about everything in parts, like, “My hip, my shoulder,” but it’s all connected. And it’s all connected via the fascia. And so even muscles … We’ve just named them, like quadriceps or serratus anterior, because it’s easier to think of them in those parts and the action they have on a joint. But truly it’s all just one network of … Muscle has a different type of property. It has contractal properties to it that makes the muscle work. And then the fascia connects to that.
[012:00] So you can’t talk about them separately. They’re one and the same. They don’t do the same thing, but you don’t separate, like, “Oh my muscle is torn.” Well no, there is fascia over it that also is injured.
Rachel: So what’s the difference between … because a lot of people will talk about getting a massage or body work or something using oil on the body for that type of work, versus miofascial work. What’s the difference?
Lara: So, fascial work you don’t use oil. I just am moving the fascia, which is underlying the skin, over the muscle and allowing it to glide, and kind of finding where there’s stuck parts, like to another muscle or to a bone, and using my fingers to release that. When you have oil you use that communication. So that’s the other part, like, I’m communicating with your fascia today, when I was working on it. My fingertips have the most amount of neurons, practically, in terms of sensation. So I can feel so much. And when I have that lubricating oil between that, that substance, I lose some of that communication, for sure. So, fingers right on top of the fascia, I can really feel like, “Wow, this part is glued down, this part is mobile, this part has more puffiness to it.” I can feel the different quality of the tissue. And the tissue has different quality to it, yeah.
Rachel: So tell everyone what the first thing you noticed about me and my situation, because I don’t know what’s going on, and this is part of my … the emotional strain that this pain puts on my is because I am super control freak. I like to know what’s up, why are things the way they are, if something isn’t good I like to know step one to ten of how to fix the problems so I can get on with my life. And then the pain, it’s just, I don’t know what the hell brings it on. I haven’t been able to distinguish a pattern in when it arrives. What is it that I’m doing wrong. And my last podcast was about completely letting go. It’s so interesting that this podcast is totally different!
[014:00] Lara: And yet it’s not! Freedom, right? Freedom. Same thing.
Rachel: But my big epiphany last week … Freedom … It’s the same, but it’s different, because last week was just, like, I can’t sit here and beat myself up over my day to day and what am I doing wrong and going to my mind about all of this stuff that I should have done different or I should have done less or more of, whatever. It doesn’t help me because I don’t know the answer. So I just sit here and I’m super frustrated and I feel like I should have done something differently. But then last week I was like, you know what? Maybe this is just what it is. Every three or four months I throw my back out and I can’t move for a couple of days, and that’s just life. I’m just going to let it be and meditate into the pain and try to see what comes from that.
And now it’s been one week, and I’m like … (laugh)
Lara: How did that work?
Rachel: That’s just what it is?! Am I fucking insane?! I’m 29 years old! My back should not snap on me every three to four months. That shit is not normal. And the level of pain and discomfort that I kind of have just surrendered to is not cool, like, it’s not good. And then I think about all the things I give energy and time and money to every day of my life, and then me and my pain is like at the very bottom of that list. I don’t want to focus on it, I have better and more important things to do.
So last week was like, “Okay, I’m letting … Let it be, let it be, it is what it is.” And this week was like, “It is what it is, but it’s not going to fucking stay this way!”
Lara: Right, exactly!
Rachel: No, I need to change and get to the root of everything. So the first thing you figured out, because, you know, all I knew is I cannot move, it feels like the pain is everywhere, it stems from my upper mid back, but it’s also in my neck which is really weird, because I normally don’t have neck stuff. And you told me I had a vertebra out of place, or trans process.
Lara: Trans process.
Rachel: … out of place. And you just wiggled that little fucker back into alignment. How does that happen? Because you don’t do adjustments like a chiropractor.
[016:00] Lara: Right, and I was explaining to you, like, a chiropractor, not all of them, but when we think of traditional chiropractors, they adjust, which is a manipulation. So on a scale of 1 to 5, a 5 is a full … it’s a force. There’s a force that’s produced at a joint that makes it move.
Rachel: Like the traditional thing they do at a chiropractor. Snap-
Lara: Snap, and it’s a force. Like, they’re coming in. But there’s chiropractors who don’t do that. They do more of the gentle adjustments, and that’s what I was doing on you. So that’s where I’m just, like again, I’m just communicating with your vertebra. Like, let’s move back in there. So I was just using my fingers, and I was giving it a glide. You can do that on yourself, I’ll teach you how to do that, so if it happens again … Just for everybody out there, if you feel like you can’t rotate your neck, or laterally flex it, which means bring your ear to your shoulder because something is stuck and it feels sharp, that’s your transverse process. So this happens a ton. People sleep weird and they get this kink in their neck. A lot of time it just goes back on its own. But there’s ways of just using your own fingers and just finding that protrusion, which is the transverse process means it goes straight out from the vertebral body, and you can just kind of gently nudge it back into place and do some movements with the neck. It’s very gentle, because again, we’re just saying, “Hey, you know, I’m going to try and take care of you.” So that’s why I’m saying, you can heal yourself. I don’t want to take away from all of us who do this profession, but really, if I could educate everybody just to pay attention and listen to their bodies and then do some very simple things to get things back in better alignment, I would be way happier than having to help people that are in severe pain, right? So that’s what I did with your neck first. You definitely had a reason that you felt like that. Like a robot!
[018:00] Rachel: What it feels like, I mean, for everyone listening, it kind of feels like you’re not doing much. It feels like, you know, you’re in there with your fingers, but you tell me, “Okay, there’s a process out of place and we’re going to get it back,” but then I’m kind of expecting this tug or this shove of some sort, because the thought of the skeletal structure, it’s like if something is out of whack you have to force back, kind of.
Lara: Not at all, mm-mm.
Rachel: Then maybe you worked, I don’t know, like and hour and a half or something, just kind of nudging it, then all of the sudden like, “Okay, yeah, it’s back into place.” And I’m like, “What? That seems weird.” And then I stood up and I could turn my head all the way. All the way around, like the Exorcist.
Lara: (laugh) Took you to a new dimension.
Rachel: (laugh) Oh my god that would be awesome. Can you do that for me?
Lara: I’d be freaked out! Like, okay …
Rachel: Too far, go back.
Lara: Stranger things, yeah.
Rachel: Stranger things. No, but then totally, you know, then after that my neck felt like soooo much better, immediately. There was no force there.
Lara: Yeah, and I think that’s really so important is that we, A, should not be so freaked out by pain. Pain, and I told you I don’t like to say that word because when say “pain” our brain actually has a reaction to that. It’s like, “What? There’s pain somewhere? Where is it? Where is it?” It’s like a little dog. It’s like, “What? What? Where is it? Where’s the treat?” So if you think less of like, “Wow, there’s something going on and my body is just telling me something is awry, so I need to be aware of this and not put it in the back drawer and do something about it, in a gentle way. I don’t have to do anything aggressive. There’s just some of the neck stretches that I’ve done on classes on One0eight, just those little bit of movements that I was doing on you, as I’m doing it right now, but you can do it on yourself. And if you go and get a massage, or if you get a big adjustment and it does not feel good while it’s happening, I’m not a fan of that. I just don’t think that’s great.
[020:00] Because I think, like I was telling you, would you ignore your crying baby? Never! But we ignore our own crying baby in our body all the time when we just kind of put it aside, turn off the monitor and go about our day. And we do that over and over again. And so you have to be gentle with your body, just like you would with a crying baby. You’re not going to go and make it aggressively painful by somebody working on you, or on yourself. So I think it’s just … that’s why movement is important, because movement can be a small thing. It doesn’t have to be, like, people think it’s an all or nothing, like, “I haven’t moved in so long, I don’t know when I’m going to start.” It’s like, start somewhere! Start somewhere.
Rachel: Do something.
Lara: Do something. Do something. Your body is craving it.
Rachel: And what about, because we talk about this a lot, so when you are in that moment of, like, critical or immense pain, like I have been, and then the first thing I notice is of course it’s way worse in the mornings. When I wake up and I’m stiff and I slept all night, it’s like I felt like I’ve taken five steps back and it’s worse than the day before. And then the more I move about, the more blood flow comes to the area, the more I heat up, and then I start feeling a lot better. How does that go together, though, being in pain and still continuing to move your body? Does it mean you have to move the area where you feel pain? Or does it mean just any kind of general movement?
Lara: Well, both, I think. I mean, it’s a really good example. Like, when you wake up in the morning, that’s when you often feel the most pain. Think about it. You’ve been still. You’ve been still, so everything goes … kind of pulls back into this tightening ball, and your body is telling you, “That doesn’t feel great.” Now, for somebody that doesn’t have something out of alignment or discomfort, just a little bit of movement, everything will start to go get better. But, you can get in a shower and get some warmth on there. That superficial heat will feel good, and then start rolling the shoulders. If it’s in the shoulders, if it’s in the place, it’s okay to move it, as long as it’s not creating more discomfort, you know? You don’t have to move the area, but you should move near it, at least.
[022:00] Sometimes the pain is not actually the area, like we were talking about earlier. The pain that you’re experiencing is not actually where the issue is, issue in the tissue. Like, for you, the second thing I did on you was I found-
Rachel: Yes. Let’s talk about that. Because what the hell? What the fork is going on?!
Lara: That was crazy.
Rachel: So, the first day, yeah, we had like 90 minutes, or maybe almost two hours in the morning, and then in the afternoon, like three hours or something where you worked the side of my ribs and upper back and everything. Then today, I mean, I’m feeling like a new person. Like, completely different. I feel like there’s oxygen in my head now. It’s like my brain has come alive again. Yeah, when you can’t move and you’re stuck, there’s no energy moving up there.
Lara: Yes, there’s literally not blood going in the same way it could be. You’re not getting the same amount of oxygen.
Rachel: And right now I feel a little bit high.
Lara: I know! I was like when we do the podcast you’re going to be all high!
Rachel: You’re like, “Should we rub or record?” I’m like, “Let’s rub and then record, because then we’ll be nice and high for the podcast. I don’t know what to compare it with, because I’m not like a druggy person. I haven’t done a lot of drugs!
Lara: It’s like after a good Savasana, right? It’s like after you’ve had a nice-
Rachel: No, I don’t think so.
Lara: No, it’s even better?
Rachel: It’s more, like, buzzy and high.
Lara: Buzzy, mmhm, that is true.
Rachel: It’s not so much grounding, it’s more like (sings).
Lara: Yes, yes.
Rachel: Like, I’ve never done cocaine, but I could imagine that it’s something like-
Lara: You don’t need it.
Rachel: Or maybe ecstasy or something.
Lara: Yes, yeah.
Rachel: Anyway, so, today you were just going to give me like a little tune up and see how we’re doing, and then you found out that I had a whole vertebra out of space.
Lara: Yeah. So, all your cervical stuff was staying, the transverse process was still back in alignment after we got it there, and then I wanted to really dig into the stuff that you’ve talked about, and you’ve talked about on your podcast, this pain in the center of the scapula, heart center type stuff. But you also had a real injury there, eight years ago you said? In Costa Rica? So I thought, “Let’s just go.” And again, the pain is only telling me, or again your discomfort, that sharpness is just telling me something. But it’s often not the actual area. One of my kinesiology teachers said, “Hear about the pain, but go somewhere else. It’s only telling you that the somewhere else is nearby the actual problem.”
Rachel: Right. And why is that the case?
Lara: Because usually, so for you, this vertebra had been shifted. It was laterally shifted, meaning it moved to the side. So it was not in line with the rest of the vertebra. That might not actually cause any discomfort except that there’s tissues attached to it, they have to do more work to hold it in center, and so they are grabbing. It’s like grabbing a rope and pulling. So that’s where you’re feeling the discomfort is the grabbing part. But the actual place that’s out of alignment, you weren’t having any pain. That’s why if somebody has pain in their knees, I almost never look at their knees. I mean, I’ll look at them, but I look at how they’re moving above and below. Often it’s the hip, sometimes it’s the feet, I mean, I look at everything. Sometimes it is the knees are like, something’s off. But 90% of the time it’s hips. But the pain is being experienced in the knee. So, again, it’s just a communication, but you don’t want to get stuck in the area of the communication.
Rachel: But that’s sort of how the brain works, though. And it’s also, the P word-
Lara: Yeah, the P word. Don’t talk about the P word!
[026:00] Rachel: But the idea of being in pain, in P word, it becomes this engrained idea. Also, you get the, what anyone who experiences pain or is sick or has some sort of ailment, and I feel like it gets worse the older you get, how the mind attaches to things, you meet someone and they’ll tell you about their pain, the whole story of it and how long it’s been there, you can go on and on and dig yourself in this pit of pain, because of course it’s awful to live your life with all of this discomfort. Eventually we attach this story to it. Like, how did it arrive, and how does it play out, and when does it come and when does it go and what am I doing right and wrong, and all of these things, and we get so stuck on this one point.
So, me, even when I’m not … So the injury I had was eight years ago. I went white water rafting in Costa Rica, and it was like a class 4, something crazy, river, and I was bouncing up and down, and I had just done a yoga teacher training, so I think I was probably a little exhausted or maybe had something that wasn’t 100% in balance already, but this huge rapid, like, rock, and I flew off the wooden seat, and I went down, like, bam! I could sense something just … it felt like my back had broken right between my scapula… the back of my heart. Since then, like, eventually the pain went away. It took me months, I couldn’t breathe properly, it was a really, really long process. It would go away altogether, then like a year later I did something and a snap of that exact same pain came back. Since then it’s been like every 4 or 5 months or whatever, it happens.
Then even when I’m not in pain I find myself, like if I’d get a treatment or just a massage or go to the spa, I have this thing and I’d be like, “I had an injury there.” And I’m not even in pain!
Lara: Don’t touch it! Yeah, yeah, yes.
Rachel: Don’t go there, because I don’t want anybody to trigger anything. I’ll tell this story about this place where I have pain, even though I’m not in pain. Because it becomes like this fear around it. I don’t want to move the wrong way, or … In yoga class, if I’m doing a workshop or a class with someone I don’t know and they’re like, “Are you okay with an adjustment?” I’m like, “Yeah, but I have an injury here.” But it’s not even relevant, because there’s no P. There’s no pain there. But I tell myself it is, and then maybe it arrives, because my brain is like, “Oh yeah!” Is that how it goes?
[028:00] Lara: Yeah, because you’ve, you know, again, I want to be very clear. I’m not discounting anybody’s experience of pain, discomfort, whatever you want to call it. But what I want to say … There’s … No, it’s behind me. It was Siri, oh my god!
Rachel: Siri is listening!
Lara: Siri said, “What can I help you with?” Siri, we’re cool over here.
Rachel: Siri, we have no pain.
Lara: We have no pain, Siri. Okay. So that’s always wild when that happens, like way away from you, like, what the hell? She’s like … Okay. So I don’t want to discount anyone’s experience of discomfort or pain, ever, ever, ever. I will never discount it. But I will say, like you said, we can create a kind of story and just attachment to this idea of what happened there, and then there’s a vulnerability. And that’s what I think you’re really talking about, is you have a vulnerability, and you don’t trust that … And some of it is primal. Like, you’re guarded. You’re like, “I don’t trust that somebody touching me or doing something is not going to set off that pain. But when you anticipate P-A-I-N, your brain already wraps around the idea. It’s really true. So you have to believe in your heart, once you’ve kind of balanced the body … Every day is a new day, there’s never getting there. But once you have this kind of regular rhythm in your body and the mechanics of it, you have to really trust that it’s going to be okay. Like, if you take care of your body, it really wants to work for you, for many, many years. So people have ideas …
[030:00] Like, the worst thing is I’ll have somebody, 50, 55, 60, they’re like, “Well, I just … I’m getting older, so I just don’t do very much, and this is tight and this is tight, I don’t like getting on the floor.” And I’m like, “Well, you can’t get on the floor? You’re 55. Don’t you want to play with your grandkids? Don’t you want to be able to get off the floor, god forbid you fall on the floor?” And then when I pose it like that, they’re like, “Well of course.” But they’ve had in their mind that this aging is a downhill battle, and I’m just falling apart, right? And the stories that we have about our discomfort or pain are very similar. “Well, I just have this, this happened to me, and I’ve just got to watch out for it.” And I think in most circumstances it’s unnecessary. There’s very few people have to really be guarded in that way, that something is going to happen. But, I think when you anticipate pain, you’re almost always going to experience it eventually.
Rachel: But I mean, this is similar to anything we talk about law of attraction or what we manifest in life. In training or in retreats or workshops or whatever, I’ll ask someone to demo something, and they’ll always say, “Oh, but I have no core,” or, “My hips are super tight, I can’t.” I’m like, “Stop telling yourself that story!” Every day, like, my hips are horrible, they’re so tight, I can’t do anything. Of course we get stuck in that narrative and it becomes extra challenging versus, like, I don’t know, maybe we’re limitless, all the time?
Lara: Like, yeah! Be curious! I think about this a lot with the handstand, and that’s why I love the handstand, for me in particular. I’ve seen it, I’ve taught it to thousands of people, and I can see how it transforms them, because it gives the vision, the idea, the manifestation that anything is possible, because it seems so difficult. Like CRAZY. But it’s not! I remember when I was trying to learn, my brother would just float up. And he was trying to teach me. And I talked about this on the first podcast. I had to teach myself.
[032:00] But I didn’t even start teaching myself until I literally woke up one day and I was like, “Fork it! I’m going to learn how to handstand!” I just totally shifted my attitude! It wasn’t like, “Well, I’ve never handstanded, I’m 35, I’m never going to learn because I’m too old to learn.” It was like, “I’m going to learn! I’m going to learn.” And that, to me, I think it’s helped me in so many areas. To me, I really think you have to believe that anything is possible. That doesn’t mean it isn’t hard work. But that includes getting over this idea that your in tremendous discomfort you’re resigned for that. Figure out a way to make yourself feel better. Do more of that, and don’t anticipate that you’re going to be like that forever, is really the best advice. I can give more advice, we’ll get into that, about what people should do during the day to feel better. But it is.
So anyway, I adjusted your … Your vertebrae was literally … the transverse vertebra had been twisted in your cervical spine, like it just had been rotated. Your actual vertebral body was shifted laterally, meaning it was not in line with the one underneath it!
Rachel: This just blows my mind! You’re like, “Uh, wait.”
Lara: I was like … And we took a picture of it! I’m like, this is … interesting.
Rachel: I’m going to post this picture today, because it looks creepy!
Lara: It is!
Rachel: How is it possible that I’m just walking around as a normal person with this-
Lara: Oh my gosh, well think about … it’s basically scoliosis. You had, like, scoliosis is when everything isn’t quite lined up, and then the tissue that molds around it, it adapts to that. That’s why I said the tissue there felt really boggy and thickened, there’s a density to it, because more connective tissue … It’s like builders, they’re like, “Hey! Bring some more material here. We’ve got to put down some more material to help this vertebra stay in place.” And when we talked about the text neck, that happens there, you get this lumpy thing.
Rachel: Tell everyone about the text neck, because everyone has text neck.
[034:00] Lara: Everybody pay attention! This is a big … this is like a service announcement.
Rachel: Public Service Announcement, everybody!
Lara: Public Service Announcement, because we were just working on Jess, who is 21 years old, okay? It’s actually … I’m seeing it-
Rachel: She’s 21 years old, she’s a yoga teacher, she’s super strong, she moves every day, she’s like super young. She’s healthy!
Lara: Yeah. Right. So the point is that it’s happening to young people. And what happens is if you’ve got this very big head, everybody does, compared to the size of your neck. If your head is a little shifted forward, and you’re looking down, and that’s happens, it literally shifts forward to look down. All of the muscles that hold the skull on top of the very top vertebra, they have to work extra hard. It’s like something’s going overboard in a ship, and you’re like, “Whoa! Don’t go overboard!” So they’re like gripping to not let this thing go overboard. And then they’re like, “We need some more help!” So they have more things come in. Well those things are kind of collagen properties. It’s basically more material, more building material to hold. So it gets thick, and it looks like that kind of hump-
Rachel: It looks like a little lump on the neck, yeah.
Lara: It’s a little lump. It’s like when you get extra bone material. When people talk about bone spurs, it’s the same thing. There’s been something has called the calcium deposits to come in, and you get bone spurs. Because they want you to stop moving in the same way, or they need more, like the Achilles tendon, it’ll get calcification because the demand is too high. So the calcium comes in to try and give it more support. But in the shoulder, the boney thing happens more, the spurs happen, because it wants you to stop moving in the way you were moving. The body is so cool, it has all-
Rachel: So smart.
Lara: So smart! It’s like, you’re not listening, so we’re going to ramp up the communication here and stop you from doing whatever you’re doing, but-
[036:00] Rachel: And how do you adjust that?
Lara: So the text neck is big. It is … it’s serious. I’m working on it with my daughter all the time, and I see her friends. I was telling you I saw this musical she’s in and all I could think of was, “Look at their bad posture!” It’s awful. All these young kids, their necks are stuck in that forward head. So, the thing you can do is, we showed it on your Instagram Live, but it’s everybody sitting in here listening or driving or walking, but you just release your chin down toward your throat. First of all your shoulders are of course back and not overly pushed back, but just back and settled down. And then the chin just drops down. You don’t want to vigorously draw your chin in, like your double chinning, but it doesn’t feel good. You don’t want to take out the natural curve, and that’s what it it does. It’s above that natural curve, the very top end of the skull, that’s tight. So what you want to think about is what we were saying, like if somebody was tugging your ear like you were misbehaving, and they grabbed your ear and kind of pulled it back and up, that’s the feeling you want to have. So both ears are grabbed, pulled back, and up, and the chin will … you’ll feel … once you get used to it you’ll actually feel when your skull settles onto the atlas, that top bone. It feels like, “Oh, okay, that feels right. It’s balanced.”
Rachel: Not doing it now, because I mean for the past days-
Lara: Yeah, you haven’t been able-
Rachel: No no, I mean, I haven’t been able to not think about this all the time, all the time, all the time. I think my problem was I’ve been this stuck for all these weeks, but then I’ve been finishing my book. So everyday for hours I’ve been writing, and I’ve been trying to prop it up, somehow. But I’m sitting at a chair and it’s just, it’s tough, it’s super hard, and I’m dropping my head all the time. Now, since this happened, I’m really super conscious about it. And now when I don’t do it, I’m like, “What the hell is that?” It feels so … the jutting out of the chin and the head forward, it feels terrifying. Terrifying.
[038:00] Lara: Well that’s how, actually, that is, your fright, that’s the-
Rachel: Well that’s how I kind of am all the time if I don’t think about it, because the phone is down there, my baby is down there, my computer is down there. Everything is down there! What the hell!?!
Lara: Yes. And you know what that’s called. That’s called sympathetic nervous system overload. Because that chin, that out, it’s like, “Something’s coming!” That’s in our wiring, that that is a state of, just, not only terrible for our connective tissue, but it’s really bad for our nervous system, because we’re in kind of constant high guard.
Rachel: Like we’re on look out.
Lara: We’re on look out! It’s a startle. That’s what happens when you startle. So, yeah, just you’ve got to watch out for the-
Rachel: You have to pick your phone up.
Lara: Yes. You pick your phone up so it’s in line with your eyes.
Rachel: And this is crazy.
Lara: Yes! Yeah.
Rachel: It’s crazy that not everybody does this, but also, it makes you look sort of, like, intensely weird.
Lara: Yeah. It either looks like you’re constantly filming yourself-
Rachel: Yes! You’re just like, “Hello everybody in the universe. How are we doing?”
Rachel: No but I mean … You need to invent some sort of device.
Lara: I know. I’m working on it. We have to invent it.
Rachel: Can you like grab-
Lara: I know. I have so many ideas.
Rachel: The only think about is, like, one of those, for really bad scoliosis, they would give you one of those, what do you call them?
Lara: The belt.
Rachel: The metal thing.
Lara: Yes, yes, the brace.
Rachel: The brace, but then you have a thing that sticks out in front of you-
Lara: I know, yes!
Rachel: Where the phone sits so that you can just kind of-
Lara: Like a little flying saucer that comes over and reach you-
Rachel: Yes, reads you a text or something. Oh my god, something needs shifting. What I’ve tried doing, which has helped me a lot is that I’m sending texts, a lot, I will do an audio message. Because then I don’t have to look at the phone at all. Just hold in the button, I can put my phone down or away and just talk.
[040:00] Lara: Yes. I tell that a lot, to dictate their texts, dictate their emails, audio message, any of that where you’re not having to look down. Because you have to look down to type. The other thing is if you … if you kind of save your Instagram time or text time to a point where you can be comfortable, like on a couch, where you just rest your elbows on your knees and it’s at your level, but you’re propped up, that’s great.
Rachel: What’s going to happen then? I mean, for kids today who have been on their phones since they were like 8 or something.
Lara: There was a New York Times article where they showed some kids as young as 12, and they’re actually, they’re evolving to have a permanent text neck. It’s fucking scary. Like, it’s a big deal.
Rachel: Permanent text neck.
Lara: Permanent! Because, you know, our bones are always … we kind of think of bones as being hard, like wood, and they’re not. They’re soft. They have a denseness to them, but it’s not like a skeleton-
Rachel: They’re porous.
Lara: They’re porous, right? And then those formative years, from well into the twenties, there’s a lot more kind of softness to them, so they can adapt to the height and weight that changes as kids get bigger. There’s growth plates, all of it. So, those years, when there’s text necking young, it’s really bad. Because it adapts to that, and then when it hardens to a degree, you know, like I said, by the time they’re in their twenties, it’s kind of already done.
Rachel: What do you do then?
Lara: Well that’s the thing. Uh, you don’t. There’s like … the bone has been shaped that way.
Rachel: So how will that manifest in terms of pain, in terms of …
Lara: Um, it might not manifest a lot. It will be interesting to see what happens. So, two things could happen. One is people will have a big, kind of, the hunchback look, because they’ll have to have so much more support back there, because the skull is that much more off kilter. There’s all these great diagrams, you know, in biomechanics. It’s like, if you’re a little bit off, it adds two times your eight pound to ten pound, eleven pound head. When you’re … Like-
[042:00] Rachel: I’ve seen, that skeletal, like, and then it just you tip forward and it shows how much force is-
Lara: Yes. So all of that is a force. So the force has to be reckoned with in back. So there’s just going to be a lot more of that connective tissue thickening, that denseness, that holds it in place.
Rachel: But along with that comes pain?
Lara: Probably. I would imagine. Because that’s not how we … even though that might be a new evolution that’s, like, a de-evolution, it’s not … that’s not how it’s meant to happen. The head is not meant to be that off-kilter, so there’s just, you know, just don’t have the muscle supply. It’s not like we have glutes in the back of our neck!
Lara: They’re not that strong! So yeah, there could be a chronic pain thing, and like you said, how you felt different, you felt that blood flow, well that’s where all of our vessels come up into our brain, and if those are shortened because your head is forward, you know, that could make you feel like you’re just foggy all the time too. So it’s be interesting to analyze-
Rachel: To do like a proper study.
Lara: People who are foggy, are they actually just like not getting enough blood flow, yeah?
Rachel: I don’t know, that make total sense.
[044:00] Rachel: So everybody listening, I mean, you’re listening to this, so you must commit now. Pick your phone up, and then put it down. That’s also key.
Lara: We should start a hashtag.
Rachel: We should start a hashtag for it. Something really good.
Lara: Free the text neck!
Rachel: But it’s scary to see, because when you’re not thinking about it, yeah, of course, I’m on the phone all the time, or I’m doing something else all the time. And now I feel so mindful about it, so it feels weird to not do that.
Lara: And that’s how you want to feel. You want to feel like it’s odd, and it doesn’t feel good when you’re out of alignment.
Rachel: Yeah, not the other way around. So what about just day-to-day alignment. We had a lot of questions about that. People asking that work desk jobs … because I’m sure, I mean, you have a super inspirational Instagram feed, and you are on your mat everyday, several times a day, and you’re moving all the time. Similar to me, I have a job that takes me places, I get to move my body, I can choose in the day how I move about. But many people are kind of chained to a desk maybe for eight or ten hours a day every single day looking at a computer. It’s the reality for so many people, where maybe there isn’t that freedom in the same way. And maybe there’s, you know, the time where each person has each day to move is very limited, and it’s one little point in the day. So how can we, or a person working a desk job, improve or really start focusing on that alignment in the day-to-day stuff, so not just when we have pain?
[046:00] Lara: So, I mean, sitting culture is really tough, because we just, again, from our origins, from our DNA wiring, we are made to move, and we’re made to move millions of cycles through our lifetime, in terms of all of our joints. And so we’ve taken that and limited the movement experience. And I can’t tell somebody, “Hey, quit your job.” If you have to … So this is for, like, if you can’t quit your job, here’s what you have to do. Sitting is not, in itself, horrible. It’s just if you just sit, and you don’t move, if you sit in one position … If you stood in one position, it could be equally bad. It’s that you need to try … so, set a timer, I’ve had people do this, and I’ve had people who work, like, they are workaholics. I’m like, “Okay, put a yellow sticky note, if you’re electronic do like a timer. But for ten minutes of every hour, minimal, but ten minutes of every hour, that’s not that much, but it will-
Rachel: It is so much! If you think in terms of like, oh my god-
Lara: It is, right? But the thing too is, all the research shows after, I can’t remember the exact numbers, but it’s seriously after something like 27 minutes, your focus goes. Like, you need that break, like we, in a way, are almost programmed. We have to do something different for ten minutes and then come back. So, you know, productivity, we should talk about that-
Rachel: What do you do, then, for those ten minutes?
Lara: You think about moving in as many ways, different, as you can. So you’ve been sitting? You need to get up and extend your hips. So, walk, go and do some, like, hip … I have all of these drills on my Instagram where you’re, like, moving your hip around in circles. I mean, obviously, at a cubicle that’s going to be hard to do. Go in the bathroom and do it, go outside and do it, go in the stairwell and do it. Just move your hip in a circle, move your back in a circle, you’ve got to move it in a different way. It’s been stuck in this kind of flex position. Move your head side to side. Rotate it, and then also bring one ear to the other ear. Roll your shoulders, like you were doing in your video. Just roll the shoulders.
[048:00] Lara: Freedom. Move all of your joints in as many ranges as you can. So say the first hour you just do a few things with your shoulders and your neck, and then the second hour you do something with your hips. Or you do something every hour, all of this stuff. But you need to move in a different way. Because all of that gets kind of molded into that seated position, and you have to free the fascia. Free it up, and you can feel it. And, you know, when people like, “Oh, this cracks,” that’s fine. Cracking noise, whatever, it’s fine.
Rachel: Is it just air being released, or what is it?
Lara: No, it’s not air. Some people say that, but it’s not, it’s like the soft tissue is getting hydrated, essentially. So as long as you don’t have discomfort with the noise, don’t worry about it. I mean, it’s fine. Sometimes you’ll roll your shoulders and you’ll just hear-
Rachel: Why do some joints make more noise than others?
Lara: Just because they’ve been in lockdown mode longer.
Rachel: My feet and ankles always, everyday they pop.
Lara: They just have… there’s a lot more joints. There’s like 30 something joints in your foot alone. That’s a lot. You don’t have that in … it’s just a lot more joints to move. The foot gets stuck, let me tell you, the rigid foot is a big problem too. It’s like a rigid neck. People need to get out of their shoes and just spread their toes. They need to have and have mobility in their feet. We should be able to have almost, not quite as much because we don’t have the opposable thumb, but we should be able to pick up stuff with our feet.
Rachel: I love that idea. I had a participant in a retreat. She wasn’t a physical therapist, I cannot remember the name of her thing, but she worked with a lot of professional athletes and baseball players and stuff, but she said what she would do was she would prescribe them to 20 minutes a day, you have to be outside and walk on something slightly uncomfortable barefoot, and if they didn’t have the space to do that, she would make them, like, glue little rocks and gravel onto a plastic mat and put it in the shower, so when they shower, they have to walk around on this thing, because they’re in the shower, so they’re not wasting any time. And I was like, “Oh my god!” This sounds like, to me it makes so much sense. Because I can sense when I’m barefoot on the beach, I never wear like big, I mean, I live in Aruba so I have the luxury of being like-
[050:00] Lara: Even a flip-flop, it’s like it’s a weird texture. The closer you are to the surface without anything being on there, it’s that you’re … there’s energy. Everything has energy. The floor has energy. So when you put a sole between you and the floor, that’s dulling the energy exchange. Then of course if you really, oh my gosh, shoes are a whole other things, but shoes are basically a semi-binding structure. If you think about the Chinese, to bind the foot, we’re doing the same thing in just not as aggressive way. But people, I can’t even tell you the feet that I see. It’s crazy!
Rachel: What about people living in cold places and you have to put boots on?
Lara: Yeah, well you have to take them off though. You have to take those off whenever you can. I know, again, if we’re like, “Well I live in a corporate setting.” Like, well you’ve got to either put the sensible shoes on, which-
Rachel: What’s a sensible shoe?
Lara: It’s not a high heel, that I can tell you. (laugh)
Lara: I know, I’m like the buzz killer for anyone who’s like a fashionista. I’m like the high heel is just … it throws everything off.
Rachel: Do you ever wear heels?
Lara: Very rarely. And, you know what? I kind of prepare that I’m going to feel it the next day, to some degree.
Rachel: Where do you feel it most? Shins? Lower back?
Lara: It depends on what the shape of the heel is. If it throws me more forward, if it’s … that it’s just a thinner heel. Like, if it’s a thicker, chunky heel, it’s not as bad, it feels like it’s more distributive.
Rachel: Versus like a stiletto or something crazy like that.
Lara: Yeah, like something thinner, that’ll hit you in your back, for sure.
Rachel: Yeah, I know, I always feel, like lower back and shins after I’ve worn high heels is like-
Lara: Because it’s throwing you forward, so your shin muscles have to hold you. It’s like they’ve been thrown out of whack, so they’re contracting constantly, to hold you from not falling forward.
[052:00] Rachel: And we’re like completely the wrong people to even … I’m going to my best friend Olivia, who you know, is getting married, and I’m freaking out about what I’m supposed to wear, and shoes, and what do you mean, because I’m so horrible. I think it’s fun, but I’m also really bad at it, and all of our friends in Sweden are like, you know … I think when you live in the city, you’re just more conscious of fashion, and everybody’s hip, and I just have no clue what to wear or what to pair it with or what kind of shoes, and I’m like, “Can I just be barefoot? Please, can I just be barefoot? Please, please, please.” Even for when me and Dennis got married, all I said was I don’t care where we are or how we do it, I’m going to be barefoot. If we’re in the winter, no matter what. And I got to be. He refused. He was like, “I’m not that kind of hippy, like, no.” So he had proper wedding shoes on, and I have bare feet.”
Lara: I got barefoot as quickly as possible too. I mean it’s … when you know you’re going to dance, too, it’s like such a great excuse. So you could wear something a little bit less-
Rachel: What about people, like, a Michael Franti, you know, the barefoot singer guy, he never has shoes. He doesn’t own a pair of shoes.
Lara: Oh, I bet his feet are amazing. I bet they’re amazing! It’s funny, when you look at somebody like that, if you held up the bottom of his foot, you could … and this is what people should do. You should look at the bottom of your feet. There should be a muscularity to it. For a lot of people there’s not. There’s almost this … It’s almost this kind of deadened looking tissue, it just, because it’s not working. So your feet should have some denseness to them, some muscularity to them. When people struggle, like in yoga, in a one-legged leg balance, like airplane or warrior, and they’re like, “Oh my god,” and then they cramp. They usually cramp in their feet, their feet are super … they’re just not strong. That’s the problem. And so the feet … anytime you have a cramp, like we were talking about the other day with Dennis, it’s either a hydration or a mineral issue, or it’s that the muscle is … too much demand is being held on and it decides to clench up. So if the feet our cramping … I always say, “If you’re cramping, you need to do this more. You have to.” And you have to go rise up on your toes and lower. I do this on my Instagram too where you lift and lower on the heels, because you want all that fascia, that connective tissue in the back that goes from the plantar surface all the way up the calf, into the hamstrings, when people have weaker hamstrings, I go to the foot. It’s all connected. So, they need to lift and lower those heels, get the calves stronger, so that the chain in the hamstring get stronger as well.
Rachel: Aside from text neck, what do you think is the … What’s the one thing that people should be doing, that kind of, sort of applies to everyone? I mean, we’ve covered text neck is one thing. Being barefoot more often. But if you could give, like, a general thing that we could all, usually, most of us, improve on.
Lara: Well, I think working the core, I’m always going to say. And how to do that, say like, say you’re, during the day, and you can’t just drop on the floor and do some core work. Whether it’s doing some abdominals or forearm plank, you can go against the wall, stand against the wall where your back is against the wall and try and draw your front body into your back body as much as possible. That also sets this foundation for better posture. So, you stand against the wall, the back of your skull is against the wall, the back of your low back, your sacrum is against the wall. Your knees can be bent, it doesn’t matter, your feet are underneath your hips, and then you just suction your belly back. You draw your front ribs. You kind of feel like you’re going to fasten your two side ribs together, and then just stand there. And then it’ll feel like you’re in a straightjacket.
Rachel: (Laugh) Have fun!
Lara: Yeah, have fun! For people who aren’t used to doing, they’ll feel like they’re just straight jacketing. But they need to start to get that sense of everything drawing into their center axis of energy, which is right along the spinal column. Then they’ll walk away from the wall, and that’ll be blueprinted into their body for a while. And the more you do that … so if you do that, like, once an hour, you do that … Slurp the belly in-
[056:00] Rachel: Let’s put this exercise on your Instagram so when people hear this, if your’e wondering what Lara means right now-
Lara: Yes! I’ll put it on there tomorrow morning or later today.
Rachel: Yeah, you can go find it there. Because that’s a really valuable thing. And it’s such a hard thing to remember, though. Because when I used to be really into, like, super dynamic practice, and I was all about inversions, and then it came so natural to me, that I was always doing core work all the time, then I sort of had the baby and completely lost touch with everything around that general area of my body, and I don’t think of it as a necessity anymore. I don’t know, it’s like I fully lost touch with how important that is, and how it affects everything else.
Lara: Yes, it does.
Rachel: And I want to find my way back there, but I’m just, oh my god!
Lara: You will! We’re going to develop your program and we’ll stick to it.
Rachel: Oh my god, because how we connect to our center, it affects so much of the pain we do or do not experience in the peripherals.
Lara: Yeah, absolutely. So all of the people who ask about what do I do about my paraformis, what do I do about my hamstrings … Everything, honestly, 99% of the answer is more core, because when that is drawn in and integrated, everything can move freely off of that, organically off of that, and with a sense of efficiency. So it’s that idea of not losing our energy and holding onto it, and moving it around better. But it’s not going to happen to that degree if you’ve kind of like just spilled all of the core stuff out. It just gets lost. And why lose your energy, you know? Again, if you really are your best friend, which you should be, and this all goes into the emotional part too, we want to take care of ourselves. Well this is, like we’ve talked about before, it’s not about what you look like, it’s about what you feel like, and if you can be the best person you can be, it’s like being your best healer is paying attention to your body, and that is being strong enough to structurally hold your body to do the things that it wants to do.
[058:00] You don’t have to do a 90 minute vigorous vinyasa practice everyday, or run ten miles. It doesn’t have to be this extreme thing or not. It’s like, Start Somewhere. Just give yourself permission, and then stay committed to it. Movement and connecting to the core.
Rachel: I was thinking about that a lot when we spoke about that a while back, how having a baby and that kind of, I mean, loss of core connection, I mean, of course, because you’re busy growing something there and everything separates. But also then when you have your baby how all of your own energy, everything goes into the child. Whether through emotional, energetic, time, love, breastfeeding, everything that goes into that, and that feeling that I think many new moms have of sort of losing themselves after being a new mom or after having a baby, is that a part of that? How the energy connects to the emotional body of, you know, I lost this physical sense of being here around my own axis, and now my axis over there. Like, that’s how I felt when I had Lea Luna. My axis is … I don’t even care about myself anymore. The first three days after I gave birth, someone had to tell me, “Did you pee? Did you pee today?” And I’m like, “Oh my god, I haven’t peed in like fourteen hours.” I had to tell myself to eat and drink, because I was like, “Nothing else matters, because look at this being that’s here.” It’s just so … How does that connect, that emotional part with all of this physical stuff and how it manifests in the body?
[060:00] Lara: What I would always say is look at your child as an extension of you. If you don’t take care of you, you’re not taking care of your child. We have to start thinking about ourselves as the center of the universe. Not our children, not our spouses, not our job. We are …. Because if we aren’t functioning and if we’re not happy and if we’re not balanced, and we’re not working on always raising the bar for ourselves, then we’re not going to be our best for those other beings in our life. So I would first say that. Because if I can’t tell you the number of women who said to me, “Oh my gosh, I am finally coming back to myself. It’s been six years, it’s been eight years. Whatever …” Like, gaps of time.
Rachel: Yeah, that sounds horrible. I don’t want to be that person.
Lara: But it’s … so I do think there is this idea …. And I don’t know if it’s an idea people have of motherhood, or some of it, I think, is in our hard-wiring, that we are the caretaker. We birth them, they came out of our body, they are part of us, we have to think of their needs first. But it really … it’s not the case. We have to take care of ourselves first, because if we’re not our best, we’re just going to … You’re sleepwalking through life, honestly. I’ve seen a lot of those moms, and I can see-
Rachel: And it’s so easy to get lost.
Lara: Right! And they never intentionally do it. They think they’re doing the right thing!
Rachel: No no no. I mean, and there’s so much love there. I was thinking about that the other day, I was like, Lea Luna has a rash, and we’re at the doctor’s office, I’m googling shit, like natural remedies for this and that, and I look at it everyday, like wondering is it getting better? Is it getting worse? I’m like oh my god, she has a rash! And it’s like a minor rash, it means nothing. And then I’m like … then I have this debilitating pain, I wake up in the morning and I cannot move, and I’m like, “It’s okay, I’ll worry about that later.” Like how does this not make any sense?
[062:00] Lara: Right, and you’re not alone. You have so many other things too. So, think about somebody who has … they think their child is their, kind of, everything and their job, and they just completely shut down taking care of themselves. And kind of the culture supports that. Like, oh, you’re a stay at home mom? Well then you must be staying at home and be very busy doing all of that. And it’s, like, almost like, that’s your job, so you’ve got to do all of this shit.
Rachel: You feel like you have to sacrifice.
Lara: That’s like five people working. Like, a stay at home mom is working harder than anybody, right?
Rachel: We made a decision last week, from here on now, in the company, we’re only going to hire moms! I haven’t written it down in a thing, but mom’s are, if you can be a mom, if you’re taking care of a child, if you birth a child, you’re going to be more patient than anybody else. You’re going to know how to multitask. Mom’s are superheroes.
Lara: Badass. Yes, yes.
Rachel: I don’t understand, there’s like discrimination against moms in the workplace. I’m like, “Are these people insane?” Are you kidding?
Lara: And those are the ones that you’re going to be like, and you’re going to make sure that you’re going to take care of yourself, because the tendency is to do things for other. So I think that if we just start to shift the paradigm, that we are the center and we have to take care of ourselves, like, we have to be our own healer, and when we heal ourselves or take care of ourselves, nurture ourselves first, we’re going to be better for everybody else. And that’s just, you know, marry somebody who has that same idea, and if they don’t, then you better convince them, because that’s a non-negotiable, in my mind. It doesn’t mean being selfish or forgetting everybody, but that’s not often the case. People are-
[064:00] Rachel: But it’s also, I mean, we get stuck in these roles, also, of who we are and what we do in our day-to-day. When I had this epiphany and then when you came and surprised me and all of this stuff, I was like, everyone around me cares so much about me! I was like blown away. Angela, our COO, had made this happen with you. You’re taking time out of your life to be here and help me with my pain, and I don’t even give myself this care? To me it’s totally crazy. We’re traveling on Sunday, we’re going to go to Spain, and this guy who’s really amazing that I work with in Sweden, he’s going to come to Spain for a week and work with me there so that this is not, just, oh that one time I threw my back out and Lara helped me, and then I go back to everything else, and then it happens again in three months. No. This is it, for me. This is new, new life. It is what it is, but it’s not going to stay this way.
Then I was telling Dennis, I was like, “You know, for eight days in Spain I’m going to have Jonas, he’s going to be there, so I’m going to be really busy, because it’s like two three-hour sessions a day, and Dennis was like, “What?! What do you mean!? We’re on vacation and we’re doing this, and what do you mean? Am I alone with the baby?” He was all in his head about all of this stuff, and I was like, because it’s very unusual for me to do anything like this, and I’m like, I need to shift these roles that we have. I need some care now. I take on a lot, I never ask for help, I never do this, this is going to be my thing, and I need you to fully step up and fully support me and be with the baby, and for this to be unconditional. And then he was like, “Of course, yes, of course.” But it was like a surprise.
Lara: Well when you frame like that, like, yeah. I need this.
Rachel: “What do you mean? We’re supposed to have vacation?” I’m like, “What do you mean? I’m dying!” We’re on vacation, I can’t move my fucking head. Like what do you fucking want?
Lara: I’m going to be a robot stuck in France.
Rachel: Fun European vacation. No, so we need to make that shift and, yes, convince the people around us that this is what we need and then make that decision and make it happen. Because how much time and energy and money do we pour onto things that, in the big scheme of stuff, doesn’t matter all as much?
[066:00] Lara: No. I would tell anybody, spend your money on you, not on shit that you think you need, like clothes … Fine, if you have extra money for that. But first prioritize your health and well-being, because your health and well-being, that’s your mental health, your emotional health, your physical. They are not separate. We have got to stir up … Stop separating them. They are one and the same. If you don’t feel good in your body, you’re not your happiest. That’s just, like, duh.
Rachel: Duh! I mean, you know what I mean? It should be included in that then. If you would give us your little recipe for well-being success. What should we be doing every single day, everyone?
Lara: Well, everyone, individually, should find what makes them excited. What makes them excited? That doesn’t mean you’re going to walk around excited, but what kind of movement or, you know, again, do the hobbies and things that are not necessarily moving also, but knowing that you need the recipe for better health is going to be movement, because we are bodies of energy, we need to move. Plain and simple. And the more you move, the more energy you’ll have. The more energy you have, the better you’re going to feel, the happier you’re going to feel.
Rachel: And the more you’re going to want to move.
Lara: The more you’re going to want to move. It’s an antidote for everything. Like, chemical, everything. Everything really depends .. You know, for those of you that have had chronic pain, you need to move even more. Like, stop telling yourself that you don’t need to move. You need to move. Connect to your core, so move. But do something, like, if I told you to walk five miles, but you hated walking? Like, that’s not going to work. You’re not going to keep doing that. But you’re like, “You know? I really like to garden.” Great! Do some gardening, but move differently in the gardening. Don’t just move in one way. Dance around the garden! Like, do something fun. Be playful.
[068:00] That’s the other recipe is be more like … tap into your inner child. We have all grown up way too quickly, honestly, I think. And we’ve lost it. Everybody’s too serious, I think that’s why people are kind of surprised and tend to like my classes, because I just give them permission to be like I kid. Have fun. You don’t have to come into yoga and be serious! My god! That’s like … life is so serious. I think we have to give ourselves permission to have fun. Skip! You know what I mean? Like go in the grass and skip. Anybody that skips for ten minutes, you’re going to feel so frickin’ great. Do things like that that are just unexpected and things you’d never think about, and be curious. What feels fun? Go out in the woods and walk. There’s nobody that has every complained about walking in the woods. You’re convening with nature. We are coming away from … unless you live out in nature, most of us are not getting enough time in the earth, near the earth. That’s a vibration that we miss out on as well. So, I would say, whatever it is, but make it sacred. This is, like, no money can buy this. So, I don’t care if you’re like, “I gotta work, I gotta work!”
Rachel: It means everyone who’s like, “Okay, I’m going to get a gym membership,” and like drags themselves to a gym that they hate!”
Lara: If you don’t like going to a gym, don’t go to a gym! Don’t go to a gym! Do a video of something, move yourself, put on dance music like we’ve talked about. Dance, have a fun little dance party. Do something that feels fun for you. And be curious. Maybe there’s something that you don’t even know. I think also, just like we have a story about pain, we have a story about what we can do, what we can’t do-
Rachel: You were yesterday telling me about the Peloton, I was like, “Oh my god, that’s not for me.” Then I was like, “I don’t know, I haven’t tried it!”
[070:00] Lara: Yeah! Right, exactly, exactly. My husband loves the Peloton. Like, I think he would really marry it. He loves it. Vegan Daddy, look him up, he’s got the numbers, let me tell you. And it’s really fun! I don’t do it like he does, but he loves it. He loves it. And I could sit there and be like, “Well he should be moving in different directions.” It doesn’t matter. He loves it, it’s great for him. So find something that you love, and stop waiting for the right time, because it’s never going to happen. Do it now. Just find a buddy, write it down, whatever it is, stick to it. It doesn’t have to be a lot, but it has to be something, and don’t wait.
Rachel: Move everyday.
Lara: Move everyday. Move every damn day. (laugh)
Rachel: Move every damn day. It doesn’t matter for how long. Is 15 minutes of movement enough? Or do you have a magical number?
Lara: You know, for me obviously it’s different, because this is what I do. I move, I try and move for at least 60 minutes in some way. Then in addition to that I’m moving. I’m taking my dogs for a walk, I’m walking as much as possible.
Lara: Sitting, yeah whatever. I don’t really have an issue with that. If you have a regular 9 to 5 job, get up as much as you can and move. We were talking about, yesterday, with Amanda, how these people measure their steps, and that has really probably been very revolutionary for people, to have an idea of how little or how much they’re moving. So I think something like that is awesome. Because people need metrics. They’re like, “Oh! I’ve moved enough, I didn’t move enough.” Because they don’t know! You don’t know what you don’t know. Like, sometimes it’s like, “Holy moly! I only moved 500 steps today! That’s crazy!” So, I would get something like that. But walk up and down the stairs-
Rachel: Whatever works.
Lara: Whatever works! Whatever works. Play with your kid, yeah.
Rachel: And it’s also such a good antidote for if you’re having a low moment or a bad day or you’re sad about something or in your head about something. Like, the first thing, like move your body. It’s the number one way to get out of your head and back in the moment and get perspective.
[072:00] Lara: Yes. I would almost also add, like, create a reward, this works really well for people who are like, they get home from work and they just want to, “I want to put on Netflix,” it’s like, “Okay I’m going to watch Netflix after I do 20 minutes of calisthenics.” Whatever it is. Jumping jacks or high knees or walk around the block. Whatever it is. But give yourself kind of a little treat, but don’t forget the movement first, because you will never regret that. You won’t. Then watch your Netflix, but you’ve got to move first.
Rachel: You’ve gotta move first. I love that, I love that.
Lara: I should create a puppet, where everybody buys me and I’m like, “Have you moved today? Lara says move!”
Rachel: Oh my god. And it’s so funny because also I’m thinking about the dynamic of me and Dennis. Dennis who likes to like, he goes and moves for eight hours. He likes the long distance, endurance, all of this. And I’m like, “Oh my god, this is just … no.” For me a 90 minute yoga class is like 15 minutes longer than I want it to be. An hour, 75 minutes, for me that’s perfect and exactly what I need. But then I get up and I move throughout the day, and I walk the dogs or dance with the baby or I clean the house. It’s just that natural peace. But the idea of sitting on a bicycle for six hours? Like please kill me. That’s never, ever going to happen. But it brings him so much joy, so much joy.
Lara: That’s the thing is know what you like. But sprinkle it in as often as you can. As often as you can. It will add years to your life. You will feel happier. This is a guarantee. It’s a guarantee.
Rachel: I love that. It makes so much sense, but we need the reminder, and also I think the reminder of the idea of joy and I think when people sometimes move with the idea of “I need to lose weight because I’m ugly or I’m fat. I’m not good enough,” and we beat ourselves up about having to change something, because we don’t feel enough in the body. And then,
Okay, well I’m going to go to the gym or I’m going to run every day, I’m going to do yoga, but it starts out with this kind of icky feeling, like I’m not good, so I must look better, so must move. And that’s a totally different type of energy, and then it’s going to be really hard. You’re going to have to force yourself and drag yourself to the gym, and there’s little reward after that because you have moved, but it’s a different type of energy within the body. So finding what makes you happy and moving because it moves you happy, that’s the recipe for success.
[074:00] Lara: Yeah, it’s not a punishment. It’s like, be your own best friend. Be your own best friend. What would you give your best friend for advice? You want them to be happy, supple, mobile, no text neck, you know what I mean? It’s just like eating. You eat well because it feels good to eat well, not because there’s an amount of calories or whatever. Just nourish yourself, love yourself, self love.
Rachel: Self love, all the way!
Lara: Self love all the way.
Rachel: Yay! Thank you for days, thank you for flying here, for help facilitating my healing. For getting all my vertebra and all my processes back in place, and for bringing me so much joy and being such a good friend and such a motivation for me, really, truly.
Lara: Thank you, likewise. I love you.
Rachel: I love you! Everybody listening, you can follow Lara on Instagram at Lara.Heimann on Instagram, and I’ll share it also on social media, so you can go and find all of her videos and all of her super motivating things you can do, whether you’re at home or at the desk at work, or you have a whole hour you want to practice, she’s also on one0eight.com. So, lots more where that comes from. And I think, I mean, you’re going to be back here in June, so we’ll do another episode by then, so any questions you have, write them down and save them for a couple of months.
Rachel: I’ll see you all next week!
Transferwise – transferwise.com/podcast
ZipRecruiter – ziprecruiter.com/yoga
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Quip – getquip.com/yogagirl