Interview With Cecilia Douglas – Why is Fascia so Crucial to Our Health?

In a way, they stole the body away from us; we should have this education in school

Lena: You’ve had a long and fruitful career in the world of health and wellness, starting with different massage therapy techniques before transitioning your career into teaching movement; when did you develop a passion for movement? 

Cecilia: I always had a passion for movement. As a child, I could never sit still; I was always running around and climbing trees. I did a lot of track and field, running around in the forest and I have been working professionally with horses. I started as a massage therapist and took my first course in 1982. I was injured a lot in my childhood. I was a very fast runner but I had to stop running when I was around 13 or 14 because I had bilateral achilles tendonitis; I got 10 cortisone injections in each Achilles tendon. I also started to get a lot of pain in my lower back.  All of that led me to massage. That was more to learn about my own body because I never really got any help from chiropractors or doctors, my pain kept coming back. I was not planning to be a massage therapist full time but one thing led to another. I Started with Pilates in 2004. I needed more tools for clients, I noticed that people were sitting too much, they needed more help to move, to get active again and find their core muscles. 

So massage therapy was then not a long-term solution for your clients?

No, I could help them to get rid of their tensions, pains but for them, they needed to take more self-responsibility.

You are a fully certified Stott Pilates Instructor, a trained and experienced Garuda instructor and in the last few years, you have dedicated yourself to becoming a Slings Myofascial Practitioner and Teacher Trainer for the Art of Motion Academy based on the work of Tom Myers. What led you to choose this particular path in the world of movement?

Pilates had a great effect on my body; I finally got help with my mobile body. I started to get stability in my pelvis. Pilates gave me stability but it made me kind of rigid at the same time and then in 2012, I started with Garuda and I found more movement joy in it. It was also more in line with my idea of Fascia Movement. I have been working manually with fascia since 1994 when I took my first course in connective tissue massage. There wasn’t much literature on fascia, it was more of mouth to mouth and we were like nerds talking about it in the basement. I began to work with a Swedish ‘’Naprapat’’ who had been in contact with Rolfing in the US and then I started assisting him in his Revolving courses – which  is a myofascial technique that he developed and was inspired by the work of Ida Rolf. So that is where my interest and knowledge in fascia started.

So how did you come into contact with the Art of Motion’s Academy Slings Myofascial training course?

First through Garuda; it’s a technique that has a fascial movement quality. I love Garuda and it’s an amazing technique but it didn’t give me all the answers I was looking for. I wanted to know more. In 2016, I read about the course Anatomy Trains in motion that was going to be held at Anatomy Trains Summer School in Maine . I read Tom Myers book, Anatomy Trains when the first edition came out in 1999. Tom Myers was also in Sweden in 2011 to give a manual workshop. That was the first time I met him. His work for manual therapists has always been a big inspiration for me. The Anatomy Trains Summer School program in Maine and Anatomy Trains in Motion, was the first course being given outside of Switzerland – and I just had to go there to learn the movements based on Tom Myers myofascial slings. So that is how I found Anatomy Trains in Motion. 

Who is Karin Gurtner?

She is from Switzerland originally and had her own Pilates Education program.  Then she started to read Tom Myers books. She realized that there is more than muscles and wanted to understand more about the fascial system, so she took the whole Manual Therapy Anatomy Trains education: Structual Integration. Not to be a manual practitioner but more to understand why and how; what is really happening in the body. How can we move with these myofascial lines? After the education, she went back home; she developed the Slings Myofascial Training and the first course of that training was Anatomy Trains in Motion .  She is amazing, how she really goes outside the box and can build something and create. She presented the material to Tom based on his myofascial lines and he said ”wow yes”. That’s how the Anatomy Trains in Motion started. He gets contacted from people often saying they have the perfect myofascial movement technique. It took some time but eventually,  he took her under his wings and she was allowed to use the name Anatomy Trains in Motion.

That is very impressive and inspiring.

For someone that may find the term myofascial a little abstract, could you give us some examples of movements or techniques used to stimulate fascia?

Don’t get me wrong, all movements are a collaboration of fascia and muscles. Pilates is training the Fascia also. In training though it is possible to adress one system more than the other. Let’s say you train more traditional weight lifting, you focus then more on the muscle fibres; when you are running it is more the cardiovascular system. Karin Gurtner has defined 12 different movement qualities of the fascia; muscle collaboration is one of them like when the muscle and the fascia are working in collaboration. Tensile strength is another quality when you lengthen in opposition. That is a way to strengthen the fascia.

Plasticity is another fascia quality. In Yin Yoga for example, they work more with the plastic quality, when you lengthen the fascia. There is also elasticity, buoyancy; there are many different ways of working the fascia. What is unique in Karen’s work is that she combines these 12 qualities in her movement sequences.

Can you explain in your words, what is fascia and why it is important for everyone, whether they are weight lifters, dancers, or the everyday person to know about it? 

Wow what a big question! Fascia is the biodynamic tissue that connects every muscle, bone, organ, and nerve in the body; it connects everything and separates everything in the body at same time. It is a communication and sensory system. Some fascia is very solid like tendons, ligaments, endomysium, epimysium, perimysium and aponeurosis. But the fascia is also a part of the extracellular matrix, what is between all the muscles and allows the sliding, gliding and communicating in between structures of the body. The periosteum (the tissue enveloping the bones) is also fascia. 

Fascia needs to be moved, stressed; you need to elongate it for example with pendular movement like cats do. When you sit too much or just don’t move your body in different directions, it can retract and create adhesions. That’s the normal  physiological response. Like every morning when we wake up, or we have been sitting for a long time we are a little bit stiff.   When we move our bodies in different directions like in yoga, we also stimulate the fascia ”cytes” which is a cell devoted to fascial gliding, between the different layers in our bodies. There is a research from Carla Stecco in Italy; a big fascia researcher who has seen that when we move, when we stretch, we stimulate the fascia cytes to create more Hyaluron. That is basically our lotion, our glide in the body and in the joints.   It’s the same when you put coconut oil in the fridge, it gets rigid, but when you stir it, when you warm it, there is a change in the viscosity.

This is important, because stiffness can come from lack of movement, trauma, and a common problem today: sitting too much. Lack of movement will decrease communication in the body; it stiffens up and creates adhesions. The fascia glues together. It’s like if you wash your favourite angora jumper too hot; it gets too small and tight and it shrinks. It is the same with collagen (one of the components in fascia). It has been shown that if you don’t stretch it and stress it, it sticks together. 

Does this ‘’gluing’’ together of the fascia automatically create pain?

It can create pain. It is one of the reasons we feel pain. But since it’s a whole body system, I can have for example pain in my shoulder but it may be coming from some rigidity in my ankle. Old scars are a kind of adhesion; after an operation or injury; the scar tissue is also a kind of fascia. And if I have a scar somewhere, there will be a pull and that will create an imbalance.  That is why it is necessary to keep the fascia system elastic and open. Having tightness in the fascia system is like wearing a too small bodysuit.

What kind of positive changes have you seen in yourself or your clients when you started to use the Slings Myofascial training method?

First of all, I don’t have pain in my body anymore as long as I keep doing my Slings training to keep my myofascial system stimulated. When I went to Maine in 2016, I had bilateral plantar fasciitis and I had pain in my lower back. Pains that had come and gone in my body since I was twelve years old. After I started to understand the myofascial lines and how to move with them and keep them open and connected, the less pain I would feel.  It has given me an axis to keep the body open. All of us have different movement patterns, parts that will contract easier; Slings Myofascial training helps my body and I can help other people’s bodies to stay away from dysfunctional patterns. We are tensegrity models. Most people work from traditional anatomy, with the levers system. When you learn the fascia anatomy, you start to have to rethink the whole anatomy. We realize that the bones are floating in this myofascial continual web. That is what I have felt in my own body; understanding how you can move with the myofascial slings. I have also seen it in clients; it’s opened up my eyes even more. For whatever reason they come to me whether it is back pain or other issues, It has given me tools to open up the whole body.

Personally, Slings have also helped me open a lot of up frozen traumas in my body.  The Slings Myofascial training has allowed me to embody, to get in contact with my body and open up these stored traumas on a deep level. The more in contact we are with our bodies the more open, resilient, the more and the brain and body communicate and become one.

It isn’t just trauma, stress also gets stored in the body, that is why it’s so important to move. All the sitting and then stress on top of that that people are experiencing…When animals are stressed they shake; like a gazelle or a rabbit after being chased. When the predator is gone and they feel safe again, they jump or shake and then start to eat again as if nothing.  Unfortunately, we can store traumas and stress, we move less and less and become more and more rigid and stiff.  This tension we build up in our bodies also compresses our organs and nerves; around each nerve you have three layers of fascia and around each organ you have fascia. The cell communication gets less effective. We need this body to be body and adaptable.

So do you believe that anyone can benefit from incorporating the principles of Myofascial training into their regular training?

Definitely. They can incorporate into their regular training. Everyone needs mobility and strength training. Often what you see in the Yoga studios are these very mobile people who can do all these amazing movements and often at the gym you see these rigid people. Well I am exaggerating, but more often than not it is true. It’s about finding the balance. Usually what you are getting drawn to is what you are good at. All of us have our constitution. Tom Myers calls it Vikings or Temple Dancers. Some are more rigid in their constitution and some are more mobile. We have to figure out what kind of body did I get in this life, what does my body need? I cannot compare myself to you or my neighbor because I am exceptional in my constitution, in my history. With the Slings Myofascial Training you start to discover more things about your body and yourself. That is why I like so much this expression: body and mind training.

There has been a big increase in interest in Fascia in the health and fitness world. Do you believe it may be the missing link?  

Definitely.  To understand historically, you can go all the way back to Vesalius, the father of anatomy in the 16th century when he began to dissect dead bodies. In those days, the bodies belonged to the church, so it was forbidden. When they started to dissect and to draw anatomy, they took away the fascia, they scraped away all the connective tissue.  Still today in anatomy books, you don’t see any fascia. You only see the tendons and ligaments, all the rest doesn’t exist. When I first learned about fascia, in massage training reading traditional anatomy I learned that it was more or less just a packing material for the muscles. Anatomy will have to be rewritten in the future. We need to incorporate the fascia, you cannot deny its importance. It is there for a reason, it’s a communicative, sensory system, it is a movement system in the body. 

In the old days, we have always separated things in the body; looking at each part and that is very important to look at each part but we also have to look at the system from a whole. Everything is depending on everything in a way; all parts are communicating. Which explains why pain in the shoulder could come from a knee.  To understand the whole body we need to look at the fascia system. Now it’s hype; everyone is talking about fascia.  But we can go back to A.T. Still, the Father of Osteopathic Medicine; he spoke about fascia. He wrote about it and understood it was there.  Also Ida Rolf who is the Mother of Rolfing. She also spoke about fascia. Even Chinese Medicine; how they look at the body in a different way. What is interesting is the TCM acupuncture meridians; 80 percent collaborate with the Myofascial Slings meridians. Tom used the term meridians because he was a sailor and he was thinking of the meridians connecting the earth. In Reflexology, they connect the foot to the brain and the body. Professor Helen Langevin, who is known for studying the effects of acupuncture, could see that when they put the needles in fascia.  She compared it to putting the fork in the spaghetti and when you twist the fork, you get the connection. In Chinese Acupuncture, you have stagnation in the energy, so they open up energy pathways with the needles in the fascia and when you twist the needles, you open up these stagnations. 

You continue to motivate, inspire and educate your clients, family and clients with such generosity and passion. What is the message you would like to convey to them?

Keep moving; motion is lotion! What you don’t use, you lose.

We only have one body and that is what we are going to carry around for so many years until we die. I want to keep educating people so that they can understand the body so everyone becomes the expert of their own body. In a way, they stole the body away from us; we should have this education in school.  If we had learned more in this way and to understand our bodies earlier in school, we would be in a much healthier state. The more you understand your body, the more you understand how it functions, how to eat, get quality sleep, good movement the better we would feel. I wish that everyone would have the accessibility to that knowledge.

Yes that is so well said, and I also wish that more people will have access to and awaken to the knowledge that is available to them. It saddens me that people are dependent on a system that focuses on disease management and not health. 

I am over 60 and I have never felt as much movement freedom in my body as I do now. I’ve always been training and moving, I’ve done martial arts, riding, weight lifting  yoga, but understanding the myofascial slings and Karin’s work really gave me back my movement freedom. I will always keep on learning and still have a lot to learn – we are born to die ‘’unfinished’’.

There is nothing more freeing and precious than having that freedom.

Yes and I feel sorry for those who haven’t experienced movement freedom and joy in their body. Also those don’t have that experience and accessibility. You don’t know what you don’t know. You need references to understand.

It’s often when people are in pain that they start to look for answers.

Yes but you have to look at how many years has taken to get this pain. Most pains have built up for years. People often come to me and say that they got a slipped disc from lifting their arm but it’s really from years and years of immobility, adhesions, imbalances and overload.

I really appreciate you sharing your time and knowledge. Your story and path in the world of health and movement is unique and inspiring. Thank you!

Thank you for asking me for an interview!

3 Ways to Take Your Power Back During the Pandemic

I would like to share with you a very personal experience. After my mother passed away and even during her years of battling cancer, I felt very powerless. I admit that it is very painful to watch and see someone you love in pain and deteriorate – but the worse part is feeling helpless. The only way I knew how to cope at the time was to ask for nothing; I didn’t want her to have the added burden of taking care of me. After she passed, it was the most uncertain time of my life – I had lost my compass, time froze and nothing made sense. How was I going to go on without her? In an instant, I was casted out into the ‘’real world’’ and to be honest, I was very naïve about the challenges I was going to face. However, there is something that lives inside of me that lives inside of all of us and can only grow as we face adversity: resilience. I believe that life throws at us what we can handle. Not what we want, not what we expect, not what is easy but what we need to learn that will lead us to our highest potential.

Back in those days, there weren’t many alternative care options and my mother and I had no clue about the power of mindset, nutrition or lifestyle. Though I understand the need for standard medical care, I do believe that the western model lacks in wisdom and self-empowerment. Naturopathic medicine and Ayurveda for example have a holistic approach, usually including the participation of the patient. This is where our power lies; we must become a part of the equation as we start to heal our bodies, minds and souls. It is time to take our power back.

The ‘’Go to’’ Question

My greatest heartbreak was without a doubt loosing my mother. She was a diamond in the rough; the kind of sweetness a person rarely comes across in a lifetime. But like with all tragedies, there are gifts, usually invisible but powerful. It would be a close friend of my mother’s (someone I call my guardian angel) that would teach me about the power of words. In my most frantic state, she would quickly redirect my focus to: what can I do? In other words, where does my own power lie in this moment? I was clear on what I could not do; I could not bring my mother back, I could not change the system that had failed me nor annihilate cancer. But was there any way I could pick up the pieces and regain my dignity? Was there anything I could do to honour her? Absolutely. If we take the time listen, the next step to take will usually appear. And if you start rambling about all the reasons why you can’t do something, give yourself the 5-second rule. Your first answer is usually the right one. We always have a choice; we can give up and crumble or roll up our sleeves and have the courage to take the next step, as small and insignificant as it may seem. If we sit in blame, we give our power away to someone else; whether that is a person or the government or whomever’s fault it is. It’s like we are handing over the driver’s seat to someone else. We may not get to choose our challenges but we always have the opportunity to co-write the story. One thing I have learned is that there is always something. There is something I can learn, there is something I can forgive, there is a part of me I can start healing and I can honour those who didn’t get the chance to live their full potential. In the context of this worldwide pandemic, some things are bigger than us and beyond our control, but you can decide how you will react and contribute. Will you make the problem bigger by adding blame, judgment and fear or will you look for the blessings, the lessons, and the opportunities to create change and find solutions?

Immune System is Key

Our immune system constantly interacts with our internal and external environment protecting us from viruses, bacteria, yeasts, fungi, foreign proteins and even cancer cells. At the front line of our complex defense system is the skin and our mucous membranes. The lymphatic system on the other hand is the circulatory system that removes foreign cells and proteins, dumping them into the blood so that they can be broken down and eliminated. The lympathic system relies on muscle activity and exercise for the lymph to circulate. Even the functioning of your liver is important because it detoxifies the body from substances that are taxing to the immune system. The immune system may well be one of the determining factors of our state of health. Some of us may have an overactive or underactive immune system – our genetic blueprints are unique. A common sign of an overactive immune system is allergies. On the other hand, if you are prone to recurrent colds and infections, chances are you need to strengthen your immune system. There are a number of factors that either enhance or suppress the immune system aside from genetics; this is where our power lies. Stress, intense emotional experiences, chemicals in foods and water, nutrition deficiencies, a diet high in hydrogenated fats and refined sugars, pollution, excessive iron are all lowering the immune system’s efficacy. On the other end of the spectrum, a healthy diet, specific vitamins and minerals, probiotics, an optimistic attitude, exercise, relaxation and sleep are just a few factors that support the optimal function of the immune system.

So how can we nourish this complex multi-faceted defense system made of organs, bone marrow, cells, antibodies and chemicals in order to keep it strong? I like to think of the immune system as a sports team; each player has its position and role and everyone needs to help out. Each player also needs a specific set of nutrients in order to perform optimally. So if you know your diet is not optimal at the moment, you may be missing essential nutrients like vitamin A, C, D, zinc, vitamin E and selenium. One of the best and most cost efficient ways to get the essentials is to take a basic multi vitamin and mineral supplement. Of course, nothing can replace a healthy diet that includes sufficient water, fiber, adequate protein, and essential fatty acids.

Vitamin C in particular has been shown to increase production of ‘‘interferon’’, a substance with antiviral effects. Levels of this vitamin are often decreased in the presence of stress, surgery, colds and other infections. If you choose to take a vitamin C supplement, make sure it includes bioflavonoids, which increase cellular defense against microbes. You may not be able to stop a pandemic, but you can empower yourself and your loved ones to take steps towards and stronger and healthier immune system.

Setting Boundaries

Though it is important to remain informed, everyday, many of us are bombarded with news that creates more uncertainty and keeps us in a state of fear and anxiety. Interestingly enough, our bodies have the same physiological reaction to stress whether it is coming from our external environment or from our thoughts and feelings. In other words, just by thinking about what we fear, we send our bodies into fight or flight mode. This stress response increases our heart rate, blood pressure, constricts blood vessels, decreases blood flow to the digestive tract and internal organs and even raises blood sugar levels. So you can start to imagine what happens to our bodies over time if we are constantly thinking about a potential threat. Chronic stress can cause anything from headaches to backaches to increased infections; not to mention stress’ correlation to several diseases including cancer. Remember that the media’s job is to keep you hooked. There is no secret formula on how much media coverage and ‘’corona talk’’ you should let in; you need to make this conscious decision for yourself.

The opposite of activating the stress mechanisms in the body is the parasympathetic system – your rest and repair mode. There are so many wonderful ways to nurture this: meditation, affirmations, yoga and breathing. In this state, we digest food properly, we make the hormones the body needs, and we repair muscles. It is believed that the more we stay in this state, the healthier we are. So if you are stuck inside, take this wonderful opportunity to meditate, pick up a book you have been wanting to read, learn a new recipe, try a new yoga routine, listen to beautiful music or my favorite emotional release technique: dancing!

When I look back and this crisis will have passed, I hope that I can be proud of the person I was and the choices I made. I hope that I did my best to be compassionate, kind and use this time wisely.

In the meantime, stay strong in mind and spirit so that you can continue to shine your light. We will get through this.

I truly hope this helps.

All my love,

Lena B.

5 Tips on How to Thrive During Dark Times

My entire life, I felt a strong connection to Sweden. In 2016, I left it all : the ‘’safe’’ career, the apartment, the car, my students, friends, family and connections I cared deeply about to propel myself into uncertainty. I knew that I would need to adjust to the culture but I would have never imagined that the weather would be an issue since I was moving from Canada. However, it wasn’t the cold winters that were the biggest challenge ; it was the darkness. In November and December for example, there are very few hours of daylight, if any. Part of Sweden’s charm though is that you can see electrical candlesticks shining through the windows of almost every home. On the fourth Sunday before Christmas, the Swedes celebrate Advent, which means arrival ; where they light the first candle on the advent candlestick. It is a sign that Christmas is coming ; but for me it was a reminder that this period too shall pass and that there is light at the end of this tunnel.

Now, you don’t need to have lived in Sweden to know what it is like to be in dark place in your life. Life has its seasons too and we can’t always be in that blissful, flowing and energetic state. These dark periods are usually a space where the days overlap ; time seems to be frozen and you may even want to hibernate indefinitely. You might feel heavy, isolated, sad, hopeless, depleted or all of the above. So what can you do to make this time not only more bearable but also move through it with grace and energy? Over the years, I have actually learned to not only appreciate, but also embrace the dark seasons in life as a time to go inwards, slow down, heal and reassess.  Hopefully these five tips will help make your journey a little brighter.


There are days when I want to move to a tropical island – Maybe you can relate too? Yet, when I started to become attuned with Nature’s or life’s seasons and stopped trying to resist reality, it became much more manageable. If we really listen, the change of seasons brings a necessary shift not only in terms of weather, but also in the energy inside of us and around us. The fall for example is a harvesting and gathering time of the year and it is a time to pay attention to our own thoughts and feelings. Just like the trees, we have the opportunity to shed the layers of what we have accumulated throughout the year – that which no longer serves us. It is time to sit with our own thoughts, disappointments and feelings. Perhaps we have been feeling a certain way about a job, a partner or friend and it is time to acknowledge those feelings. Maybe we realize that we have been taking on too much for too long ; perhaps we need to accept that we too are changing. Transitions are uncomfortable but they can become a beautiful catalyst for the change that needs to happen. During this time there also seems to be a need to slow down, rest, ground and go inwards. We tend to try to push ourselves through life at full speed until we eventually crash.  For many years, I overstretched myself ; juggling jobs, studying, dancing and taking care of others.  I was burning the candle at both ends and my body payed a heavy price. The takeaway should be that what we resist or ignore not only persists but it continues to grow like bad weeds. In other words, if you are cursing the darkness or pretending that it’s business as usual, you might actually be making it worse. When I take the time to slow down and attune to the season, I feel intuitively that I am in the right place. It’s a sense of congruence or wholeness. That is usually when my greatest insights about life, relationships and career emerge. What shows up might not be pretty or convenient but there is nothing more freeing than living your most authentic life and knowing the truth. You become unstoppable, doubt starts to fade and magic starts to happen.


It is no surprise that many of us feel fatigued during the dark seasons. We might need to accept that our bodies and minds need more rest, but it may also be that our diet isn’t giving us what we need. Modern technology and global trade has allowed us to have access to all types of foods all year round, but that may not be in our favor. Mother Nature is very cleaver and understands what our bodies need at different times of the year. Autumn for example gives us rich and dense foods that need to be heated such as whole grains, squashes and sweet potatoes. The Winter is often a time for rich, warm and heavier foods that protect us from the cold. If you are indeed feeling tired, it can be really helpful to eat a diet full of easily digested complex carbs. I am of course not talking about sugar or processed carbs (aka junk food). Whole grains such as brown rice and starchy vegetables create wonderful sustaining sources of energy known as ATP. Carbs have gotten a bad reputation in the last years, but healthy complex carbs are loaded with essential nutrients and fiber that nourish us, improve digestion and help balance our blood sugar levels (which is key in maintaining energy). Of course, every person is a little different so listen to your own body and stick to whole foods as much as possible. Eating too many processed and chemical laden foods causes the liver to overwork and can make you even more tired.

It is also likely that you have heard of the need for vitamin D during winter season but did you know that studies have shown that people living in the Northern Hemisphere are Vitamin D deficient for several months of the year? Vitamin D is essential for several important functions in the body such as bone health and immunity. Also, there is increasing evidence that there is an association between Vitamin D insufficiency and depression.   The National Institute for Health recommends 600 IU’s per day of the sunshine vitamin for adults up to 70 – although this could differ according to your country, so please check. Also, increasing the amount of B vitamin’s is helpful for converting carbs, fats and protein into usable energy. Taking a B-complex supplement has been a game changer for me during the most hectic times in my life. I believe that not enough attention is put on the level of micronutrients (vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients) in our bodies yet the body needs them to carry out many functions. We are eating plenty but somehow many of us are still malnourished – that is our bodies are starving for these precious gems of nutrition. However, if you are chronically exhausted, it is best to visit your medical health professional. Personally, I have greatly benefited from visiting a Naturopath who helped me understand the importance of nutrition as well as creating sustainable and positive lifestyle habits.

The Thing About Coffee

Swedes are one of the biggest coffee consumers in the world, so I know they will not be thrilled with me for saying that your caffeine consumption may actually be making you more fatigued. Caffeine is a nervous system stimulant and produces a temporary increase in mental clarity and energy levels, however it has several adverse effects. Caffeine stimulates the adrenals and initially lowers blood sugar levels, often leading to hunger or cravings for sweets. The rapid spiking and dropping of blood sugar levels often leads to tiredness, making you want to drink more. Caffeine is also a diuretic, leading to loss of liquids, minerals and vitamins that the body requires to function optimally. The other issue is that the amount needed to create that initial ‘’kick’’ effect increases with regular use and eventually we need the drug to function. So if you cannot live without your coffee, make sure you are taking a basic vitamin and mineral supplement, drinking enough water and keeping your blood sugar levels steady. I have found that the more balanced diet I consume with enough healthy fats (including nuts, seeds, avocado and healthy oils) combined with enough rest, the less caffeine I need. Matcha, green or herbal teas can be wonderful alternatives and offer many health benefits!

Breathe, Revitalize, Move

Ok this one is straightforward: we need to breathe deeper! Oxygen is the most vital nutrient, yet most of us are shallow breathers and do not use its energy potential. Deeper breathing energizes our bodies. Often when I am teaching a group, I am amazed to see the immense tension people hold in their chest, shoulder and rib area. That is why I like the ‘’neutral’’ Pilates position lying on your back with the knees bent or legs supported. This allows you to be in a tension free position, which then allows for the ribcage to move more freely.  The movement of the ribs should be three-dimensional – think like a balloon filling up with air. Try to relax the neck and shoulder muscles. We really just need to notice the breath for it to naturally become smoother and deeper. It’s a free mindfulness practice that you can implement at any time.

In these dark times, we may feel the need to slow down but the human body is meant to move – think of it as essential as eating and breathing. Even if you are feeling tired and lethargic, there is a movement routine out there for you that will fit your mood as well as uplift and energize your body and mind.  I recommend finding a mindful movement practice that focuses on breath and posture. It doesn’t have to be high intensity to give us major benefits – remember that a little goes a long way. Whether it is Yoga, Pilates, Garuda, Dance or Tai Chi ; choose something that lights you up – soon you won’t be able to live without it! Good posture also helps us breath better, invigorates us and improves how we feel about ourselves. Another bonus is that these mindful practices make us aware of our tensions and blockages; which can then be released by movement. Muscle constrictions are costly in terms of energy. Don’t get me wrong, I do like an upbeat and intense workout but just like with our lives, we tend to be forceful with our bodies. Add stress to that and we become walking balls of tension. I always notice how peaceful a person is by the way they move and carry themselves with flow and ease. Make sure you schedule in the time though ; when I am tight on time, 15 minutes is all I need to make a world of difference.

Remember That the Light Will Come

Whether the darkness is literal or figurative, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the layers of our own despair – but I promise that these feelings will fade if you let them. You don’t need to have a plan or all the answers as to how you will make it through. If there is something I have learned it’s that the human spirit is infinitely resilient. Consider the idea that the light cannot exist without its opposite – like night and day. And just like a plant, the light needs us to nourish it for it to grow. What you focus on has the power to change how you feel. I used to ask myself over and over ‘’why me? Why did this happen?’’. After years of self-torment, I realized that none of those questions were useful or even helpful. When you get sick and tired of being at a dead end, you need to start asking yourself better questions.  For example: what do I have right now in this moment that is good? What do I truly need in this moment? What lights me up? What can I do right now to bring me a little piece of joy or happiness? It can be the smallest of things: lighting a candle, petting your dog, cuddling up while sipping a cup of your favorite warm drink… Bottom line ; Ask powerful questions. Notice. Listen.

The darkest times of my life are the reason why I am able to savor the most ordinary moments ; why I see the miracles of mundane acts of kindness and love. They have made me incredibly resilient and forged the strength of my character. There is nothing more powerful than someone who has been broken to pieces in their darkest moments and built themselves back up. I embrace the darkness because I know that at the end of this road there is always a rainbow, you just need to have a little faith.

‘’Only in the darkness can you see the stars’’ – Martin Luther King. Jr.

I really hope this helps.

All my love,

Lena B.

Why I created Heart & Body Wisdom

Have you ever asked yourself what is the driving force in your life? What motivates you to get out of bed, put makeup on, climb the corporate ladder, workout, maintain a difficult relationship or update your status on social media?  The truth is that my life has been a constant dance between dreaded obligations, my multiple passions and the desire to help others. For over a decade, I was in that space of just ‘’surviving’’ the day, the next week, month or year; there was no way I could fathom having a list of long term goals or a dream board.  Purpose and fun were nowhere on the to do list. I just had to pull through until my next break.

Then something happened – I got tired of being exhausted, anxious and unhappy. I had become a dance educator at an inner city school because I wanted to make a difference – and to be fair, it was one the most rewarding experiences of my life. Sadly it came at a price that I was no longer willing to pay; the sacrifice of my own health and happiness. At 28, I was at a breaking point; I remember standing in front of the bathroom mirror gasping for air and trying to pull myself together for the next group. The truth is I had taken on too much for too long – I was one who always said yes; the one who always had to over-deliver; the one who believed I could save a crumbling education system; the one who could juggle multiple jobs and play caretaker. I was superwoman – or at least I wanted to be. The truth is I was overworked, drowning in my own grief from of the loss of my parents, in pain from neglecting my own body and buried in a mountain of debt. How was I going to get myself out? It seemed impossible – but I was desperate for change.

As crazy as this may sound, I heard a voice from within tell me; there is more, it doesn’t have to be this way; you matter too and you deserve to be happy. Call it universe, intuition, divine intervention or whatever you like; those words changed everything for the simple reason that I didn’t even know that any of those things were possible for me. I thought happiness, money, family, and health were for others more fortunate – NOT an underdog like me.

I had no idea how I was going to create the change that I needed but it started with just that; believing that things could get better. And slowly over the course of several years, they did. At first, I didn’t know where to turn but I started by looking for answers outside of my immediate environment; going to new places, reading and meeting new people with different perspectives. Most importantly, I stopped playing people pleaser/saviour and started listening to my own inner guidance.

Because that is the thing is when you are too busy proving yourself to everyone else, your blinders make you blind to the world outside of your own and you end up missing all the signs and possibilities.

Interestingly enough, the greatest catalyst of my transformation would fall into my lap in the form of a book. A Naturopath had introduced this book to me years before – the same Naturopath who had helped me wean off my anti-depressant medication using the power of plant medicine, food and lifestyle changes. She had pointed out the book ‘’Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom’’ to me, by Dr. Christiane Northrup. To which my first thought was: ‘’Yeah yeah, I don’t have time to read a book lady!’’ Several months later the title popped into my head again and I knew I needed to get it. When I finally read the introduction, I could not put the book down; It was one of my life’s biggest AHA’s.

I had been living an illusion my whole life. I wasn’t superwoman – I was a martyr! Like many other women, I had been conditioned by a selfless mother and by a culture that tells us that nice women put everyone else’s needs ahead of her own. She never says no and endures the mistreatment of others. The praise of self-sacrifice had been reaffirmed to me over and over throughout my dance training. Since I was particularly stiff, had the ‘’wrong’’ body type and lacked training I had to make up for it by working 10x harder than the others – even when it did damage to my body. My self-worth and confidence had been built upon my resilience and ability to endure, but that all backfired – eventually.

So why am I writing this are you wondering? Why did I decide to create Heart & Body Wisdom? Because it has become imperative for me to clarify what my driving force is. After all this isn’t just a means to an end. Heart and Body Wisdom was created from the heart; as my soul project, with a big mission.

So here is my honest and truest answer; I have had a long-time burning desire to share my mother’s and my own story in the hope that it can inspire change. I believe I was put here to challenge our legacy of self-neglect – but also to help heal, elevate and teach others how to better take care of their bodies, while also listening to their own inner wisdom. And now, I am finally giving myself permission to give voice to my purpose and dreams.  

It took me a long time to understand that it is all of our birthright’s to have an extraordinary, meaningful life. I also know that when we are feeling our best, we overflow with more to share with others. We can give from a place of power, love and abundance – instead of lack and bitterness. So my mission is to serve YOU my purpose-driven-big-hearted-kind-souls on your journey to a strong, healthy and vibrant life.

I know I still have a long way to go – I don’t pretend to have all the answers and I consider myself a student for life. But after more than decade of working as a teacher, movement educator and more recently a nutrition and health coach, I find myself finally ready to humbly share my knowledge and lessons with you.

I am excited to share this windy journey with you and I only hope I can be of service to as many as possible on this journey of healing and happiness.

All my love,

Lena B.