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Lara Heimann: “Surround yourself with smart people”

The final lifestyle tweak is work on your relationships. We often think that relationships will just continue to exist without much effort, but in paying attention and nurturing the relationships with our family, friends, and even ourselves, we are adding real value to the quality of our life. As a part of my series about the […]

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The final lifestyle tweak is work on your relationships. We often think that relationships will just continue to exist without much effort, but in paying attention and nurturing the relationships with our family, friends, and even ourselves, we are adding real value to the quality of our life.


As a part of my series about the women in wellness, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lara Heimann.

She 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 lytyog.com. 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 Lara! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?

I have 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? What were the main lessons or takeaways from that story?

I have a lot of stories and this one is small in comparison, but had a profound effect on my outlook in my career. I was attending a small business forum for women in my local community and sharing with the women that I was a yoga teacher and owned a studio and was looking to expand my membership. We were sharing some of our marketing materials and one of the women looked at my studio flyer and asked me why I didn’t mention that I was a physical therapist on it. She said that she had tried yoga before but had hurt her back and she never went back to a studio or class. She explained that she would be willing to try out my studio, knowing that I was a physical therapist. The point of the story is that we all have unique talents that can really highlight our skill set, but we don’t always speak to our talents and our expertise. That one conversation with the successful owner of a flower shop had a profound impact on how I marketed myself and truly helped my success.

Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I think the biggest mistake I made was not asking for help earlier on in the realms of business. I have never been a businessperson prior to opening a studio, having run a small studio from my home. A friend met with me before I opened the studio and gave me some pointers, including writing a business plan. I didn’t do that right away and waited a few years before I came up with very specific goals and a business plan to meet that mission. Looking back, it would’ve been helpful to pay someone to meet with me and hash out a business plan with more specifics.

I think the biggest lesson I learned from this is to simply ask other professionals for advice on what works. Ask the customers what they are looking for. We know what we do well and might be really clear about the products/services we offer but hearing from other experts and the customers themselves can amplify and strengthen our mission. The lesson I learned is to not be afraid to ask for help, to pay for services that will clearly make your work easier, and to know your skill set well. I have become an entrepreneur, but in some ways by default instead of more purposeful steps. While I don’t regret having to learn way more about business than I had set out to, I have learned to be smarter in who I hire and smarter in how I delegate tasks to people who are way better at certain skills than me.

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?

I have had so much good fortune with having lots of support along the way. But, hands-down, the person that has supported me the most is my husband. He has been a true partner throughout our marriage and especially in growing my business. From helping me build the studio, to listening to my thought processes, to never saying no to any of my dreams, Mark has been there throughout. After we had our children, I continued teaching yoga to small groups and privately in an artist studio that was separate from our house. He designed it so it would work well for me to have my students there in the morning and he would use it for his own work in the afternoon. He designed a brilliant set up that would turn the studio from an open floor plan for my students into a office with a hideaway desk for his work. When we moved into our existing house, he encouraged me to double the size of our first home studio so that I could have more students at one time. When it became obvious that my business was booming at home and we needed to move in to a larger public studio, he cheered me on and helped set up the new studio space at the business store where we rented. He lay down the floor, helped with the fixtures, and learned all about mind-body software! For those who are familiar with this system, it is not necessarily a fun thing to have to learn. But he created a PowerPoint presentation to teach all my teachers how to use it. There are so many more examples of how Mark has helped me grow my business, and I am truly indebted to his support.

Ok perfect. Now let’s jump to our main focus. When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?

My work is combining my love for yoga and movement with my background and training as a physical therapist. It really fills up some of the gaps in the yoga teaching world. My goal has always been to empower people through the machinery of their body to realize their innate badassness. When people feel better about themselves, they are better citizens of the world. The body is the easiest pathway to wellness. But, in the yoga world, even though many forms of yoga involve body movement, a majority of teachers and practitioners know very little about the body. I have seen it over and over again-when people learn how to inhabit their body through an understanding, both intellectually and emotionally, it is transformative. There is a great saying I reference in my yoga teacher training: “copy skips understanding“. In yoga, just like in other forms of movement, we can copy what people are doing but we might not understand the underlying mechanics. My goal is to educate about the body and empower people to move from a place of core strength and integrity. And, the inevitable result is that good movement yields good inner feelings. When we align our core values with the way we move in life, we are better people and happier people.

Can you share your top five “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing? Please give an example or story for each.

The first lifestyle tweak is to pay attention to your posture. I’ve worked with hundreds, if not thousands, of people on improving their posture. There is no perfect posture, but there is more optimal posture, where we can live with a more neutral pelvis and spine. I’ve had many a student tell me that chronic pain, headaches, and emotional heartaches all improve and/or disappear because of working on their posture in my classes.

A second lifestyle tweak is to pay attention to when you are actually hungry. We often eat for reasons that are not for hunger. I ask people to notice when they’re eating and notice -are they hungry or is there something else going on? It could be just boredom, but often it’s stress, sadness, loneliness, or some negative emotion that we are trying to suppress. When we can pay attention to the signals of hunger, we can begin to unpack some of the other emotions that accompany mindless eating. One example is a woman that came to me complaining about lack of energy and wanting to feel better in her body and in her life. We talked about posture and movement but I also asked her to take notice of when she was eating and why. After doing this for a week, she told me that she was eating at least 50% of the time when she wasn’t even hungry. So I asked her to instead do something else — take a walk, drink water, sit and read, or even sit and close her eyes and breathe. She reported that it was challenging for her to do these things and she almost felt a little angry. When she asked me some advice, I told her the next time that she felt negative emotions and wanted to eat, to go outside, away from others, open her mouth wide and just breathe out or make noise in the form of a yell or a grunt or something. Long story short, she did this and released a lot of pent up emotion. Without going into all the details of her life, I will just say that it really worked to pay attention to what she ate. She was stuffing down her emotions through food and the combination of not eating when she was actually hungry and not feeling the feelings led her to being exhausted.

A third lifestyle hack is to get out in nature. We hear this so much but how often are people really doing it? A few minutes of nature is like a bio-hack reset. We need to experience the different rhythms of life in nature because we become quite insulated from that energy when we sit inside in front of a screen most of the day. So, put it on your must-do list! Go out in nature and try and do it daily!

The next lifestyle tweak is to go barefoot. It’s not just about being hippie dippy and going barefoot in nature! There is so much value in connecting our feet to the ground but even to the inside floor without any obstruction in the form of a shoe. Our feet become quite bound by being in shoes our whole lives and the impact is not great. We lose mobility in our feet (the foot has more joints in the body than any other area) and we lose strength in the foot intrinsic muscles that are responsible for moving energy from the surface into our body. Many of our joint maladies can be remedied with better foot mechanics and strength. So, go barefoot as much as you can, practice spreading your toes and practice grabbing things with your feet.

The final lifestyle tweak is work on your relationships. We often think that relationships will just continue to exist without much effort, but in paying attention and nurturing the relationships with our family, friends, and even ourselves, we are adding real value to the quality of our life.

And ultimately, by working on our relationships, we are working on ourselves. It is in the dynamic of our relationships that we can truly grow and transform. Similar to paying attention to how we move and what we eat, we can pay more attention to how we respond, to how we give, and how we receive. And in that act of paying attention, we can improve upon our habits or conditioning. For example, my mother and I are very close and it is because I have worked on our relationship. When my children were younger, I would often see other young mothers receiving help from their parents, the grandparents. I would feel twinges of envy because I knew that my mom was not that type of grandparent. She loved my kids, she didn’t live nearby anyway, but she also was in a stage of her life where she was focusing on her dreams and fulfilling them-travel, community engagement, and volunteering. She had had four children in a short period of time and had devoted her life at that time to raising us, as my father was a very busy surgeon. Instead of being angry at my mom for not fulfilling some fantasy of what I thought I wanted, I acknowledged that this is a great time for her to indulge in her dreams and it didn’t take away from her love for me and my children. I had moments where I could have traveled down a path of resentment and not only hurt my relationship with her, but stymied my own growth of recognizing other peoples wishes. I try and practice this in all of my relationships, standing outside of my own self -centered desires and respecting others points of view. This practice has helped my relationships and my own personal growth tremendously. As I tell my children, “You can truly only be responsible for yourself and that includes your reactions and responses, so work on you!”

If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?

Well, I am trying to do that right now and my motto is called Be the Movement! I like that saying because it opens up the possibilities for what movement is needed for individuals and the collective community. For individuals, the movement could literally be moving toward better health by moving your body daily. The collective movement will be stronger when we as individuals are stronger. I often close my yoga practice and teaching by thinking or saying “may this practice empower you and help you to feel stronger and clearer, calmer and more compassionate to benefit yourself and all beings.” My movement is an invitation for full engagement and participation in life! Through the magical vehicle of our bodies, we will discover an infinite source of strength and resilience that can help us overcome, survive, and thrive any situation or circumstance. And, when we combine our individual power and work toward a collective global goal of goodness and kindness for all, we will be unstoppable.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?

1)The work is never done! When you work for yourself, it will be the most fulfilling and the hardest job and it will never be finished.

2). Ask for help. People often want to help you and a lot of people, like myself, have a hard time asking for help. Just do it.

3) Hire people based on what they have done, not what you think they can do. I’ve hired people from my heart, thinking that they would be capable of some of the work I had in mind, even though they had no experience. Sometimes it worked, but often it did not, and it’s really a disservice for everyone.

4) Surround yourself with smart people and if you have a business and a brand, treat it like a individual entity. I had always wanted my brand to be much more than about me. I know many people who have a hard time separating themselves from their brand and that can lead to a very difficult path. I’m grateful that it’s not been my issue but it can be quite common.

5)As a people pleaser, this is a tough one: you need to be OK with people not liking and/or agreeing with you. When you have a strong voice, opinions, and a clear goal, it might not line up with everyone. So, whether it’s someone who works with you, for you, or is a customer, don’t waver from who you are and your mission. You won’t satisfy everyone and the sooner you realize that, the easier the path will be. And remember to reference the fifth lifestyle tweak which is “you can only be responsible for yourself “. The more you say that, the easier it is.

Sustainability, veganism, mental health and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?

All of these are so incredibly important to me. Veganism and mental health are the the main areas which my life and work impact. When people feel better in their bodies they inevitably feel better in their minds. When people’s values align with their actions, their hearts feel better. Veganism is a philosophy and a lifestyle that endeavors to align your values with your actions. Not contributing to the harm of animals also impacts environmental degradation. Veganism is truly a spiritual practice . When we see plainly the suffering that is involved when we choose to eat animals, enslave animals for their hormonal secretions, or use them for entertainment and other products, we cannot look away. We are discarding the conditioning shroud that has been placed on us by our societal norms. While I can only speak for myself, I do believe in the inherent goodness in humans, and I truly believe that no one condones suffering. My mission is to use my brand and my platform and my own life as a model to empower others and in that empowerment, invite all to pay more attention. This specific invocation is what makes Yoga separate from other movement practices. I teach good movement, not only infusing yoga poses, but also delivering yogic messages that can better land when we are aligned in mind,body, and heart.

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

My IG handle is @lara.heimann. and my brand IG is @lyt.yoga

Website is LYTyoga.com

Thank you for these fantastic insights!

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