There are so many benefits to daily exercise. We gain clarity of mind because you engage your brain as you engage your body. The central nervous system is involved in exercise and movement and more of your brain is dedicated to movement than it is to language. You will feel more connected and clearer in your mind and will be more productive with movement. In that vein of clarity, you’ll also make better choices. These choices can be in the realm of nutrition, how you spend your time, who you spend your time with, and which activities you engage in. Another benefit is improved sleep quality. Studies have shown that your sleep cycle is dramatically improved when you exercise.
Lara Heimann is an international yoga pioneer and Physical Therapist focused on evolving the practice of yoga to empower movement and balance amidst a modern lifestyle of technology and sedentariness. With an advanced degree in physical therapy and more than 25 years of yoga practice and education, Lara is redefining the modern practice through her comprehensive LYT (Lara’s Yoga Training) Method, emphasizing smart alignment, functional movement, and spiritual wellness. Sustainable, freeing and efficient, LYT champions smarter, safer and more conscious movement patterns and is practiced worldwide through daily online classes at her newest initiative, movementbylara.com. Additionally, Heimann leads teacher training certifications online and in person at her studio, YogaStream, in Princeton, NJ , and hosts international workshops and speaking engagements to speak about consciousness and purposeful movement. Through the holistic connection between body and mind, Lara’s methodology is a clear and influential roadmap to ignite the spirit to operate at its highest potential both on the yoga mat and off.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the story about how you first got involved in fitness and wellness?
Ihave been involved in fitness and wellness as far back as I can remember. Being raised by my father who was an orthopedic surgeon and surrounded by three brothers who were incredibly active and athletic, I had a natural path into wellness. I played sports with my brothers, danced, ran and eventually was on both high school and collegiate cross-country teams. While in college, I started teaching aerobics and went on to become a certified spinning instructor and eventually, a yoga teacher.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
I have a lot of stories in the past 20 plus years, but one interesting story relates to opening up my own yoga studio. After graduate school and physical therapy, I worked as a clinical physical therapist for over a decade and taught yoga on the side. When I combined the two paths and created my LYT Daily Yoga method, a core group of loyal students began to practice with me regularly. When they refused to go to other yoga classes even if I was out of town, I knew I was onto something. I basically started my own business because I wanted to keep my students functionally safe and happy. I had no idea the reach the method would have all of these years later!
Can you share with our readers a bit about why you are an authority in the fitness and wellness field? In your opinion, what is your unique contribution to the world of wellness?
With a Master of Science in Physical Therapy and a certification in neurodevelopmental training, I have put into practice what I have been teaching for over two decades.
I am continuously critiquing and growing my brand of yoga methodology, as it all is rooted in the understanding of functional anatomy and movement. I have a lot of academically-learned knowledge and I’m always curious to gain more, but I also have a lot of first-hand experience with thousands of people. While research studies are helpful as a baseline, it is the application of knowledge to real human beings in my yoga classes at my studio and in my international workshops and teacher trainings that really make the impact.
My biggest contribution truly comes from my near-obsessive study of movement, posture, and the impact of our modern-day lifestyle. I am both fascinated by and compelled to improve the various imbalances created by compensatory strategies for movement.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
The first person that comes to mind is my husband. Since the beginning of our relationship, he has been my biggest cheerleader and support system. He always says ‘yes’ to my ideas and business ventures and applauds my hard-working ethos. I am so grateful to have a partner who believes in me and knows how much I contribute to others through my teaching.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. We all know that it’s important to eat more vegetables, eat less sugar, exercise more, and get better sleep etc. But while we know it intellectually, it’s often difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion what are the 3 main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives?
Habits, fixed mindset, and inertia.
Habits are hardwired actions that we do so often that they become automatic. Not all habits are bad, but the ones that are contributing to a less healthy lifestyle must be replaced with better habits. But the less optimal habits never go away, they just fade into the background. Overcoming the impulse to fall back into habitual patterns takes time and patience, two things that people tend to lack.
A fixed mindset is another huge blockage, and this is represented by people’s assumption that they can’t change their behavior. A fixed mindset is the opposite of a growth mindset, which gives people the invitation and opportunity to grow and believe that growth is always possible.
Inertia is another huge blockage because it’s a principle of physics: things at rest want to stay at rest, things in motion want to stay in motion. With that in mind, if someone has been a less active couch potato, it literally feels 10 times harder to start the ball rolling toward fitness. All three of these blockages are related because if you have a habit that is not serving you well, such as eating late at night after watching television instead of exercising, the inertia must be overcome to begin to change that pattern of behavior. However, some people just throw in the towel with a fixed mindset and think that they will never be able to change or accomplish anything to get them on the path of wellness.
Can you please share your “5 Non-Intuitive Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”? (Please share a story or an example for each, and feel
Move even when you feel like you have no energy.
Move when you have your period or are bloated for other reasons.
Make movement in your daily life a non-negotiable, like a pact that you must keep by the end of each day.
Learn to eat when you are actually hungry, not just out of habit.Start to listen to the signals in your body and know that your body is speaking to you, if you just tune in more.
When you feel hungry, tired, or lacking energy, drink 16 ounces of water. Hydration has a huge impact on how we feel and the choices we make. We often eat because we are misinterpreting a dehydration signal. By the time you’re thirsty, you are already dehydrated.
As an expert, this might be obvious to you, but I think it would be instructive to articulate this for the public. Aside from weight loss, what are 3 benefits of daily exercise? Can you explain?
There are so many benefits to daily exercise. We gain clarity of mind because you engage your brain as you engage your body. The central nervous system is involved in exercise and movement and more of your brain is dedicated to movement than it is to language. You will feel more connected and clearer in your mind and will be more productive with movement.
In that vein of clarity, you’ll also make better choices. These choices can be in the realm of nutrition, how you spend your time, who you spend your time with, and which activities you engage in. Another benefit is improved sleep quality. Studies have shown that your sleep cycle is dramatically improved when you exercise.
For someone who is looking to add exercise to their daily routine, which 3 exercises would you recommend that are absolutely critical?
Mobility exercises for the large synovial joints in the body such as the shoulder and hips. Strengthening exercises for the core that will help you move and stand better.
Plyometric exercises which will improve your cardiovascular system as well as stimulate your bone matrix and connective tissue strength.
In my experience, many people begin an exercise regimen but stop because they get too sore afterwards. What ideas would you recommend to someone who plays sports or does heavy exercise to shorten the recovery time, and to prevent short term or long-term injury?
To shorten recovery time and prevent injury, concentrate on moving in various ways, increasing your endurance gradually, and increasing any load in the form of weight, gradually as well. This can include body weight. Your body has to adjust to the demand, the frequency and the duration of your exercise. People tend to have more soreness and may have a increased likelihood for injury when they participate in a repetitive activity and increase the load, frequency, or duration too quickly.
There are so many different diets today. Can you share what kind of diet you follow? Which diet do you recommend to most of your clients?
I have been a vegan for over 18 years but chose this path from an ethical standpoint. I have been fortunate that a vegan diet has also been incredibly healthful in numerous ways. I highly recommend a whole foods plant-based diet for everyone. I have had many people who have turned to a plant-based diet and had incredible results, including increased energy, weight loss, and an improved blood panel profile. We have been sold a for-profit marketing story that we need a lot of protein to thrive when renown studies have proven otherwise. All of the Blue Zones in the world which contain the largest number of centurions (people living to 100) have the common feature of a mostly plant-based to all plant-based diet. Too much animal protein places tremendous strain on your digestive system and is linked to numerous diseases and medical maladies. With a vegan diet, I have abundant energy and never worry about consuming too many calories but instead enjoy my food and regard it as a wonderful and compassionate source of fuel for the body.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I would like to see the movement I started spread worldwide to advocate for more healthy movement in the body that lights up and fuels our spirits. When we take care of ourselves and move, stand and feel better, we inevitably are kinder and more compassionate. When we are not moving well or enough, our own internal drama gets louder and takes up too much of our time and energy. My goal is to spread empowerment and connection to core strength through my LYT yoga method so that we all can be uplifted, benefiting all beings. We need this now more than ever!
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
I have books and sticky notes of quotes that light me up and inspire me daily, reminding me to show up BIG in life , even on the days it feels harder. This quote from Maya Angelou is one of my favorites:
“When you learn, teach. When you get, give.” I believe it is an incredible privilege to teach yoga and movement every day and I never take that for granted. Whether it is for a class or 5 or a packed room with hundreds of people , I am there to be of service. And I receive as much , if not more, from my community when I share my teachings. To hoard knowledge is selfish and I have been asked if I was fearful that people would “ take my creative stuff and copy it”. My response is that I am giving for the sake of others and there is plenty to go around.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
I would love to share a meal with Oprah because… who wouldn’t?! Like Gloria Steinem, Oprah is an advocate for all people, an empowered woman lifting other women, and an inspirational leader. Being in her presence would be such a gift and I would be giddy to teach her my yoga -movement style!!
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
Follow me on instagram at @lara.heimann and @movementbylara and on facebook at @movementbylara
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!