Healing the Human Body and Mind - Irene Lyon

human body the mind Jul 08, 2021
Mark Struczewski, Irene Lyon

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Irene Lyon is a nervous system expert who teaches people around the world how to work with the nervous system to transform trauma, heal body and mind, and live full, creative lives. To date, her online programs have reached over 4000 people in over 90 countries. She has a Master’s Degree in Biomedical and Health Science and also has a knack for making complex info easy for ALL of us to understand and apply to our lives.

Her website

UNEDITED TRANSCRIPT

Mark Struczewski
Irene Lyon is a nervous system expert who teaches people around the world how to work with the nervous system to transform trauma, heal the body in mind and live full creative lives today. Her eyeline programs have reached over 4000 people in over 90 countries, and she has a master's degree in Biomedical and health science. And I love this part also has a knack for making the complex info easy for all of us to understand and to apply to our lives. Irene, welcome to the show.

Irene Lyon
Hello, Mark. Thanks for having me.

Mark Struczewski
You know, I love when guests come on the show. And they say I make things simple because one of my key tenants is complexity is a gateway to procrastination. And so if you make it simple people can understand. So I am so thrilled you to have you here. I've never had anyone come on and talk about nervous system before. So you're making history four years into the podcast. You're the first Nervous System expert on the show. Yay. Happy to be that first person, you might have more because it's a hot topic. Oh, it is. So before we get started, because I literally have no idea where I want to go with this conversation. I don't have any scripted questions. Why don't you give us an overview of what you do and why it is so important for us to live full lives?

Irene Lyon
Mm hmm. Well, I currently in this exact moment, all my work is online and never used to be that way. I was in private practice. When you read my bio, my Master's in health science, I was in fitness and nutrition and exercise rehab, and did academia didn't like it. So I went into more working with people and helping people. And I got into this work because I had a really bad injury from ski racing. So mountains snow, I was a crazy Daredevil and I had like five knee surgeries over the period of six years. And the normal physical therapy exercise rehab route for me didn't work because I was so crooked and messed up in my imbalances. And even though I was doing all the right things, I was still in a lot of pain Mark and I was young, I was like early 20s. And so I i've always sort of searched for the next thing. And I got into a very sophisticated form of mind body work, called the Feldon price method, which is nothing scary. It's just the name of the man that invented it. And it was all about reteaching the human system, how to relearn how to move, again, after injury, stroke, even teaching kids who have cerebral palsy, how to walk when they haven't been able to walk. And it completely transformed me. And I'll shorten that story because it is a long story. But I was able to to move pain free after four weeks after trying to recover for almost two years. And gotten into that work study that work loved it was in private practice. And I was working with the nervous system when I was in that practice. But I didn't realize there was another missing piece. And so I was in private practice, doing really good work with a lot of people like I had had success in my world. But then there was this one summer of 2008, where I had like five people that I saw that I was stumped with. I was doing all the things I had been taught. They were keen, they were showing up. But something wasn't landing. And we would work together with movement and awareness and all that. And then the next week, it's like they would be back to where they were before. And so I was kind of confused, because I thought this was like the Holy Grail. And in a sense of this is what I need for everything. And that wasn't the case. You know, I was naive, I was still only maybe 25 at the time. And I found my way into the world of trauma and neurophysiology and the nervous system. And what was interesting was the clients that weren't getting better had had some kind of significant accident, early abuse, ongoing chronic stress, really significant shock trauma, like falling, hitting themselves, that kind of thing. And so I found the work of Peter Levine and I have to mention him because he was one of the leading founders that realized humans, we store traumatic stress in our body, not just in our brain but in our tissues and our movements and our postures in our organs in our immune system, all of it. And because of our higher brain. It stops us from releasing what animals in the wild naturally would Release. And so I was just absolutely fell in love with that work study that work, got into private practice was doing amazing work with folks mark and realized, seeing someone like in a therapeutic one on one session for one hour a week, if they had the resources to see me one hour a week wasn't enough. Because we were literally trying to teach someone how to rewire and re learn their entire Nervous System makeup and how to interact with the world. A lot of these people had really abusive childhoods. And not. I often say that people think physical abuse, sexual abuse, it isn't just that it can be verbal, it can be being put down by your parents having to achieve all the time, parents that hate each other, but show love to the kid. But there's like this field of energy that's just really toxic. And what I realized was that kind of healing is going to need more than one hour with me a week. And so over time, I started to make homework assignments for my clients, audio lessons, PowerPoint presentations, I would do three hour workshops, teaching people about the theory, like not dumbing it down by any means, but still keeping it simple, but keeping the complexity in. And one thing led to another and I created two online courses. And so now to go back to your question, what do I do and what is my work? I am helping people learn via their own self interest in dedicating themselves to learning about their body, which we really never learned about, to the degree that we need to learn about from what I have been able to figure out. So that's, yeah.

Mark Struczewski
Very interesting. And I've been I've been online since 2005, when I would get fired for my corporate job. I did speaking, but I was still, you know, online. And so when COVID hit him, like I didn't miss a beat, I want to go back to what you mentioned about storing stress in their bodies. So I'm a daily runner, I've run over 1400 days in a row. And I'm listening to a book right now actually just finished a book called Born to Run. It's kind of weird. I'm, I'm a runner listening to a book about running while I run. But he he was talking about did a lot of research. And we have a lot of 8090 120 $20 running shoes. And they're actually saying the shoes they're finding out are not good for us because the rubber soles are cushioning the blow as we plant our foot down. But the body is designed to absorb that and what's happening, the body expects as you're running down the trail, I thought this part was very fascinating. I don't know if you can speak on this. When you're walking down the field, you're the trail, whatever your body is expecting this to absorb the shock, but it's not there. When you're run barefoot, or if you were in one of those sneakers, where it's just got a thin layer of rubber. Apparently the knees go away and the back eggs go away. And I just thought that was utterly fascinating how our body is so well designed that we think we're trying to help it with the shoes, the cushioning, and then actually we're doing the exact opposite.

Irene Lyon
Mm hmm. There's a few thoughts on that. I'm being someone who used to love running. And I can't because of my multiple surgeries in my knee like I have I am bone on bone. So I can walk I can hike I can cycle I can lift weights, but that impact this you know that this point, it's just not healthy for me and I miss it so much. But there's a few things cuz I know the book. I haven't read it. Of course I see these shoes that people wear that are that are not real shoes. Yeah, there's all sorts of kinds. The thing because I studied Exercise Science and biomechanics. The one thing that is different with us humans is we're not always running on trails. And so if you have someone running on hard plat pavement in a city, for example, or in a suburb, we're organic matter as humans, just like the animals and so we were designed to be on more soft variable terrain roots, rock that has curves to it. You know, if you've ever walked on a river bed with big rocks on there, it feels so good, because you're molding your feet to all these different angles. So that's one thing that I often wonder when I see people wearing barefoot shoes or even barefoot on the pavement, I kinda cringe a little bit because I'm not so sure if that's how the human body was meant to run on hard concrete. So that's one kind of opinion of mine. The other thing that I I noticed and I know from working with people, shock absorption works really well when the human system has flow through the entire joint system. And many of us don't have that we're stiff in our spine, we have tight hips, our ankles don't have the flex that they really should have, because we're not squatting on toilets the way other cultures do. We don't get down onto the floor. Some of my primary work is teaching people how to get down to the floor and back up again, because there's actually research that has shown that our ability to get to the floor and back up again, unaided and well predicts not only mortality, but how well we live. So morbidity, I could share that research study with you afterwards, but and I've seen mark as you teach people how to be kind of more like kits, right, like a child that plays effortlessly on the monkey bars and builds forts and is crawling and creeping, they have so much flexibility in their bodies. But us big people who are stiff, and you know, we have an old injury and our shoulder. So if you think about it, we need that, that that impact to not land in a joint it needs to flow out energetically through the skull. And where I I worry about not using some cushion is if there is that force that doesn't go through, it's gonna land in a hot spot and often lands in the knees, the hips, the sacrum, usually you don't get sore shoulders from running. But if you're really hunched over you're you're working to stay upright. So I'm I'm undecided on that. I think if someone has a really good flow to their system, it might not be a big deal. But I also I like wearing shoes. It helps my knees. So I think it's also very individual, right? That's the other thing that's important.

Mark Struczewski
What what's interesting is back in 1989, I fell on black ice up in Rochester, New York, where I'm originally from, and I suffer something, it took them 10 years to determine this, I suff er from something called vestibular nerve disorder, you probably know what that is. It's a balancing mechanism. It's a little nerve in the middle of your brain that keeps you balanced a mind shot. So when I run, I can't trail run, I have to run on paved trail, because when my foot hits, my body says, Okay, my foot is firmly planted. If I'm running on a beach, or if I'm running a trail, my body may not be able to compensate like someone who doesn't have this tip and nerve disorder. So that really affects me. But when I run, I'm not training for a marathon I've run like I said over 1400 days in a row. I'm not running to impress anyone Fitness, Fitness, I some days I listen to my body, my body goes, look, dude, you're going to go slow. We're only going one mile, because my minimum is one mile. Some days I run four miles, but I'm listening to my body. I think it's really important. When you have aches and pains like I'm 56 years young, you have to listen to your body, your body's saying, Look it we go for a run, but it's gonna be an easy run today, you have to listen to your body because your body knows itself better than you do.

Irene Lyon
What you said is really important. And I think, you know, having worked in the fitness industry for nearly 15 years, and I worked for some high level Olympic athletes. If you're not listening to that body, you are at risk for a lot of things. And back in the day, I used to ski tour, you know, mountains, like full on skinning up and avalanche assessment and I used to paraglide and all these things and the people that got hurt or even died because I knew people who did. They didn't listen to that spidey sense that gut that said, stay home and watch a movie with your kids today. Seriously, and it was really sad to see like that's an extreme. But because the ego just wanted to show that I could get to that thing or I can fly that distance. But I also saw it in the some of the triathletes that were in the world that I was in, they were so addicted to the goal and the achievement and we see this in business and you know, even diet and all these like very, you know, stringent type a ways. And I saw folks blow out bones because they had to get that next thing in because that was on the route. Teen. And I'd be like, hey, you need to rest like the body needs to repair. Like sure man, US man woman used to run in the savanna. But once they were no longer running from the tiger, they didn't keep running. You know, it's like, okay, I've gotten away or I've hunted what I need to hunt, I've gotten to the next spot where I'm going to put my camp and I'm not going to keep going for another 10,000 steps.

Mark Struczewski
Now I love you said that because I have a standard goal, I hit 1000 miles in 2019. I decide to do in 2020 and want to do in 2021. But here's the thing people go, well, shouldn't you take rest days I say do once I hit that 1000 miles, then I just do an easy mile for the rest of the year. Or if I'm not feeling good. Like I said, I just do a mile, I always get 1000 miles I was go way past 1000. But people go once to 1500. Because I know myself first of all it takes time, the more you run, the more time it takes. I'm trying to run a business here. And I know it's a wear and tear on my body the older I get, although I believe that people who are exercising, whether it's running, walking, treadmill, you know, swimming, people or exercise tend to be healthier, not the ones that go overboard and run 40 miles every day. Those people are outliers. But if you take care of yourself, exercise, get enough sleep, you know, eat the right foods and all the stuff that's really important. Which brings me back to what you said about getting on the floor. So we have a 45 pound three and a half year old pupper named Gracie and I love getting on the ground with her and playing with her and I have no trouble getting back up. But it's interesting that you said that I guess a lot of people that go well, I dropped something was gonna stay there cuz I'm not gonna get it.

Irene Lyon
Yep, it's true. And, you know, in watching hundreds of people in my classes, and not just here in North America, but I've traveled to Europe to teach this work. Not recently, a few years ago, and you watch the fear, there's a fear. But the fear isn't conscious. Because they know intuitively unconsciously that their joints don't have the flex, the resiliency, the bend the spiral, it is really hard mark to go onto the floor. If you don't bring spirals into your body, you have to eat unless you just like faceplant, like a plank, back or forth, right? Like front your back, like you have to bend. And you have to balance. And that classic, it's terrible. But there was a commercial A long time ago help I fallen and I can't get up. Right. I think it was like a first responder emergency thing for elderly. And people would laugh about that. But it's quite real. And if someone falls and they can't back, get back up, like they could stay there for a long, long time and be in trouble. And so it is such an important thing. And there's a lot of stigma around getting down onto the floor. Especially in public places, I used to travel a lot. And you know, before a long flight, everyone's just sitting for, you know, three hours as they wait for their delayed flight. And I had a kind of shift in my brain quite a while ago, where I'm like, I'm going to sit on that floor, it's probably cleaner than my floor at home because they clean it every day. You know, in many, in many ways, I'm not going to sit in a mess, but I'm going to stretch, I'm going to move I'm going to, you know, do some movement with my pelvis because I'm not going to be able to do that for the next 10 hours on a flight. And once I was doing it, Mark, I was with my husband. And I was just doing some fancy moves. And I can be pretty fancy with my movement because of my training. But I was just simple. And I saw this woman looking at me. And she was kind of uncomfortable. But she was also curious. And you could tell she wanted to do what I was doing, but there was no connection on how she would do it. And anyway, so, you know, it's kind of fun to watch that conditioning. I guess you can, you could say where people just don't get down on the floor Where's you know, kids, you're at a restaurant kid decides to sit on the on the under the table, you let them you know, and and they just keep that that youthfulness but in that they keep their functionality too.

Mark Struczewski
I think that's so important to me. I'm a father of two girls, they're 27 and 24. They live on their own now. And I remember those days, you know, the kids, they apparently have no spine or bones, they could fall off the swing set and get right back up again. And that Yeah, as we age, we lose some of that. But I think some of it's like well, you know, that's that's beyond me. I'm older now. And I'm like, I like what you said, you know, we have the more like a child you know it. I've heard I think maybe it's Tim Ferriss that when before you turn a plane, he was just looking Literally lay down on the floor of the airport. And the reason why because he's not going to lay down in the plane and lay down, get up, lay down, get up. And like you said, you're moving all those joints and all that stuff. And people look at you weird, but to your point, you're waiting there three hours, you're delayed flight, then you're going to be on the plane for three hours. That's six hours of sitting. I remember, back in 2009, my wife and I went to France. And it was a nine hour flight for the last flights that went nonstop from Houston, the Charles de Gaulle. And after like an hour and a half, I had to keep getting up the Galloway and stretching the legs and squatting because I can't sit there that long my bones are going hey, we aim to move because you know God gave us legs to move if we didn't we just had stumps we beat you know, probably now, it probably handy now we're on zooms called all the time. But we were meant to move. And and I can't if I'm in a meeting, if I'm on a zoom call, I have to get up as excuse me, I have to get up and stretch because I like to stay in flex and a lot of people don't and what you hear from them on my back, oh my arm like Dude, are you walking, I mean, 10,000 steps, or you walk in 10 steps a day, you gotta get moving.

Irene Lyon
I agree. And even you know, the whole concept of 10,000 steps a day is great. But in that in that day, if you are not bending, twisting, extending flexing, it's not only just the health of the joints, its functionality, its safety. When someone doesn't have that functional capacity to be resilient in an ever changing environment, they won't do the things that are challenging, right, like they will not climb the stairs, they won't go to the edge of that beautiful VISTA to see because they know if they were to have a wind blow them, they wouldn't have the balance to to counteract that. And when I think about working with athletes in the past, who do have that nimbleness, and then you go somewhere, even in my classes where you can tell people have not really physically been rigorous with their body. And not just in a gym setting. But like, manually, you can tell you can tell just by it's like a farmer if you you meet someone who works with their hands or even plumbers, believe it or not like electricians, they get into all these spaces. I had a plumber once in my class, and he was the most flexible person there. Because you know, this was ages ago before I got into my more deep trauma work. But he's like, Oh, yeah, this is like I'm always under sinks, twisting and turning. And it's awesome. I'm like, that is such a good point. Right? Because he's not just sitting doing manual typing work, right? Anyway, it's kind of an interesting thing. And, and my first research degree, the one that you mentioned, or when I was doing my science biomed science was working with older adults. And high intensity resistance training actually was the study. And it was very clear that activity and high intense activity, and stressing the body out of its comfort zone is very important to keep us aging and what they call a successful way. And it's a term usual aging and successful aging. Someone wrote a paper two people wrote a paper on it ages ago, Rohan Khan, I think it was 87. And I can assure the reference, but we think that what we see in our society is normal. That's just how aging happens. And it's not, it's just not. And I think the more we can use our body and intelligently and listen to it, that's the other key point. And we do the food, we do the sleep, the good relationships, the trauma work, our system just won't store that stress, it will have the capacity to want to do more and explore more. And it also keeps the brain healthy. Right?

Mark Struczewski
I love that. You know, every Saturday, my wife and I go to church and our Bible study classes on the third floor. I don't take the elevator. I take the stairs. And here's the thing people go, Well, I'm getting older, and I know some people in their 80s and like, Oh, I'm older. I wish I could run them like you know there's people in 90 years old are running marathons. So you can't run a marathon. Now if you haven't, you've been sedentary for 30 years. But don't say your age because you just mentioned this. You just don't do it. There are people 90 years old running marathons, riding bike swimming. So what's your excuse? Okay, and if you're listening To this conversation right now and you're young, there's no excuse for you to start doing something I started running after Hurricane Harvey hit Houston. Back in 2017. I read an article on Runner's world comm that said, what I learned after running one mile a day for 250 days, and I'm like, Well, I could do that 59 minutes and I started doing it. Now I'm over 1400 days, I know I just started and the alternative is you sitting there, gaining weight, your your, your, your, your, your bones, your your ligaments are deteriorating. Don't you want to be a play with your grandchildren, your great grandchildren? Well, the choice is yours, you can be sedentary. Or you can say, Look, I'm going to do something within my comfort zone to start, if you just get on the floor once a while with your grandkids, that's going to send you far more better in the future than if you just sit there and never get down the floor.

Irene Lyon
True. And you know, I always use my husband as an example, I'm allowed to talk about him. And when I met him, we came from two very different worlds. I grew up in an active family hiking, canoeing, skiing, figure skating, he did not his you know, his dad worked for IBM, they were very sedentary, they did not go out for walks. They didn't go hiking, you know, very, very sedentary and inactive. And so when I met him, he was not fit by any means he was very unhealthy. He didn't look it from the outside. But now he is the fittest he's ever been at 47. But the interesting thing, Mark is that because of his complex abuse environment growing up, there was a huge fear, and a huge pattern of not wanting to move. because growing up it was it was safe to stay small, and stay invisible and not vigorously use his body. And and this is something that we see in the world where I actually I was listening to a Joe Rogan podcast a little while ago. And he was speaking to someone by the name of Michaela Peterson I'm not sure if you're familiar with her. She's Jordan Peterson's daughter, and she started podcasting herself. And she's had she had had a string of autoimmune illnesses, arthritis as a child, rheumatoid arthritis, lots of health problems. And Joe got really kind of, I don't want to almost say abusive, but like he was, he was like, come on, you just have to work out, you just got to get off your butt and start moving. And she was like, some people just don't have the energy for it. He's like, What do you mean, I have energy you have it's and she and she didn't have the science language to understand it. But she intuitively knew from her own chronic illness, I didn't have the energy to exercise back then I didn't have the capacity. And so a lot of the clients I work with, and if I think about my husband, it they didn't even consider it because their adrenals were burnt out. It was painful, because it really was because their system was in what we would call a shutdown response physiologically. So it's kind of like if you think about a swamp that has no flowing water in it, and it's just stagnant. It's like imagine drinking that water for hydration. It's just not good. You want clean spring water flowing through a river, right? That's got energy. So I want to make that point because some people really legitimately don't know how and it isn't that they don't want to their physiology won't let them and another interesting thing that occurs mark is if someone did grow up in a, in an abusive household, or with lots of traumas, whether it was from surgeries as an infant, and they had a lot of fear, wrapped into their physiology, fight flight, right fight flight, that's that classic, get up and go fight adrenaline heart rate goes up. If someone was brought into the world with that as their general Mo, let's just say now they're 35 they're like, right, I want to start taking care of myself because I just listened to this podcast with Mark and Irene or all these other people that are saying we have to exercise and then they go to do a little bit of intensity, their heart rate goes up and what do you think happens? I'm gonna quiz you.

Mark Struczewski
I'm gonna guess they start getting tired.

Irene Lyon
One other thing happens before that. They think they're in a threat. Oh, right. Gotcha. So their heart rate goes up. It was a tricky question. Their heart rate goes up. It matches as if they're being screamed at is if they're being hit. Yeah, it matches watching mom and dad fighting or physical abuse occurring in the household. Or it matches that car accident where they almost died like that, that high level, I'm going to die. And so a person then starts to consciously want to improve their life by exercising, they do it. And then they fear this and they feel this intense panic and fear. And their unconscious physiology says stop, bad thing happening. And if you don't have the education, which we're giving people now, of course, to understand there's no tiger. It This is an old response that has been wired into you. The good news is we can unwire these things. But we have to pay attention. We have to go back to what you were saying. We have to listen to the body, feel it, and literally maybe even say out loud, yes, my heart rate is beating, I feel terrified. And I think someone's gonna hit me, or think I'm gonna die. No one is here doing that this heart rate raising is normal. And so that is one reason why a lot of folks with trauma histories. They don't go into high level activity, because it really does physiologically terrify them. And so we have to, we have to kind of pull apart that Velcro so to speak.

Mark Struczewski
That makes a lot of sense. And I think it's a great place to stop this episode. I want to have you back. I have more to do. So we're done. I'm going to send you a link, I want to have you back on the show in the fall. The guy don't want to give to people too much. That's the thing. You listen to Joe Rogan podcast for like eight days long. And then you're like, What am I supposed to do all this stuff? So I want I think we gave enough nuff information for people to chew on. we'll have you back in September. And then we can pick up another the other part of the conversation. I think that but people don't go do some work. Don't just go wow, that's fascinating what Irene said, go do some work. So I read Where can we go to find out more about you and what you're doing in the world?

Irene Lyon
Yeah, it's just my name is my site. So IreneLyon.com and when you get there, it's it's just an education fast. There's a YouTube channel with hundreds of videos there. They're deemed binge worthy, believe it or not, even though I'm talking about trauma and the nervous system. There are many ebooks and audio downloads that are free so people can sample my work. And then of course, I have the programs that I mentioned, when we started talking. My full bio is there with all my credentials. Everything you want is on my site.

Mark Struczewski
Excellent. Well, I want to thank you for being on the show today. And thank you for coming on the show that you will come back in September, and we'll pick up the conversation because I think I think we've only scratched the surface here. So thank you so much for being here today.

Irene Lyon
You're welcome. And I really look forward to it. Thanks, Mark.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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