May 14, 2020
[00:01:44] Podcast Sponsors
[00:04:53] Guest Introduction
[00:09:05] The Pelvic Floor
[00:13:48] Pelvic Floor Relation To Epigenetic Trauma
[00:18:40] Excessively Clutching And Tightening Of The Pelvic Floor
[00:26:38] Easy, At-Home Pelvic Floor Therapy
[00:32:16] Podcast Sponsors
[00:35:24] Why A Small Squishy Ball Is Vital To The Health Of The Pelvic Floor
[00:40:24] Why The Gut Is Increasingly Problematic In Modern Society
[00:50:45] The Importance Of The Upper Core
[00:58:43] Staying Connected To Your Pelvic Floor Amidst Shoulder Tension
[01:04:36] The Cranial Sacral Connection And The Nervous System
[01:10:46] Lighting Round Questions For Lauren
[01:18:54] Closing the Podcast
[01:19:38] End of Podcast
Ben: On this episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast.
Lauren: The key is to really become more in tune with what our bodies are telling us. I always think of pain as like a way to reframe. It's communication. It's our body asking for awareness, attention, and communication. How are we going to have really powerful strength from the inside out unless we can learn how to let go, and then we can contract and so much more powerful strength comes. They cannot even squeeze their pelvic floor. They can't really even feel their psoas. It's incredible how disconnected people are.
Ben: Health, performance, nutrition, longevity, ancestral living, biohacking, and much more. My name is Ben Greenfield. Welcome to the show.
Well, howdy, howdy, ho. I had the immense pleasure today to be able to interview a woman. Shocker, I know, like 90% of my guests on this show seem to be dudes. I don't know why that is. It's not on purpose. It just seems like a lot of the guys I interview are dudes. It's kind of a sausage fest around here, but not today. My guest today is Lauren Roxburgh and she–Roxburgh, I don't know. But anyways, we talked about this new book that she wrote called “The Power Source“. And if you have issues with pelvic floor alignment, maybe constipation, or prolapse, or bowel issues, or psoas tightness, or abdominal activation, or you feel like your Kegels could use a little upgrade, this show is for you. You're going to dig it.
Speaking of constipation, you got to drink some coffee. Those keep your colon and your bowels squeaky clean, those cups of coffee, especially if you use an enema style. But all joking aside, coffee is great. I put it in both ends quite frequently. However, I am extremely picky on the taste of my coffee, and also whether it's USDA Organic, whether it's free of mold, mycotoxins, yeast, and pesticides, whether it is absolutely delicious or not. And, I probably drink, if you count the fact that I'm drinking out of a big old 20-ounce coffee mug, I probably have the actual equivalent of two to four cups of coffee a day, and most of that is in the morning, but I do not drink cheap toxic brown sludge. I drink the crème de la crème of coffee, organic, specialty-grade, free of toxins, and really damn delicious, the smoothest and richest coffee you're ever going to get your hands on.
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So, now that you're stocked up on your coffee, on your green juice, let's go talk to Lauren.
Alright, folks. I recently read a book that I thought was really good and that delves into something I haven't had a chance to explore in quite some time on the podcast. It was probably way back when I interviewed biomechanist Katy Bowman up in Seattle about the biomechanics of not just the entire body, but specifically, the pelvic floor and her take on Kegel exercises. We had a great discussion but really didn't get into a thorough treatise of the pelvic floor. And, the fact that that is such an issue for so many people, it's the root of so many people's issues. Obviously, when you look at functional medicine, the gut is the root of all issues. When you look at holistic dentistry, they'll say the mouth is the root of all issues.
But a lot of biomechanists, and myself included, think that the pelvic floor is at least pretty damn high up on the totem pole as far as something that you should be addressing and taking care of, but it's like this mysterious area that massage therapists don't like to touch or go near, and that we often see anatomical posters of on the wall while we scratch our heads and try to figure out which ligament is connecting to which pelvic bone. And so, what I decided to do was get the author of this brand-new book on my show. So, the book is called “The Power Source“, and the power source is, of course, your pelvic floor, ” The Power Source: The Hidden Key to Ignite Your Core, Empower Your Body, Release Stress, and Realign Your Life.”
Now, before we jump in, I want to let you guys know, I've mentioned this briefly in the past on podcasts, but I raced Ironman Triathlon for like 10 years. I did a ton of chronic repetitive endurance activities without addressing my pelvic floor, my deep core attention to the tightness of my psoas, my iliacus muscles, et cetera. And, as a result of that, I have had to deal with, over the past four years or so, everything from extreme psoas tightness and the need to learn how to release all of that and a bunch of hip flexor and glute issues related to that. I have had to deal with prolapse issues, I've had to deal with chest breathing issues, a host of problems that I probably would never had countered or had I read this book at some point a lot earlier in my life.
So, the author is Lauren Roxburgh. Is it Roxburgh or Roxburgh, Lauren?
Lauren: Actually, it's a Scottish name. It's Roxburgh like Edinburgh. My husband's a Kiwi, Scottish Kiwi.
Ben: Oh, Lauren Roxburgh.
Lauren: That's right.
Ben: Amazing. Alright, cool. I'll quit talking like fat bastard and get back to the intro. So, the book gets in the pelvic floor, the deep core, the upper core, and even some things you might not think are related to that, like the heart, the shoulders, the head, the neck, the jaw. And so, Mrs. Roxburgh is going to basically walk us through that and even how things like nutrition, and vitamins, and minerals, and even your mind, your mantras, your visualizations result, or if I can talk today, corresponds to the pelvic floor. I didn't have my coffee this morning. Yeah, corresponds to this and that's multi-syllabic. I forwent my morning cup of coffee and had cacao tea, which I like, and I mixed it with chaga, so it's an amazing immune system tonic, and you get this dopaminergic release. I use this stuff called MiCacao. They're like raw cacao nibs and shells that you steep in hot water. I put like ginger, and cayenne, and cinnamon, and sea salt in there, and then I pour that over the Four Sigmatic. Chaga is almost like immune and dopamine tonic, but it still doesn't spin the dials in your head like a nice cup of black coffee.
Lauren: Like coffee.
Ben: So, yeah.
Ben: So, I'm stupid this morning, but we're going to do this anyways.
Lauren: It's all good.
Ben: I'm stupid but I've got lots of good dopamine in my system and my immune system is boosted. So, the pelvic floor, Lauren.
Ben: It's important but–and this is obviously going to be a question that we'll rabbit hole a little bit. In terms of its importance, I would, A, like for you to describe for people who might not understand what exactly the pelvic floor is, and then why it has such an impact on the rest of our body, because you get into like how it impacts everything from a flat tummy and digestion, which is kind of intuitive, but then you also talk about things like jaw and head tightness, skin beauty, et cetera. So, can you do an explanation for us?
Lauren: Yeah. I mean, I think really, what it's come down to for me is there's not really been a great certification or schooling around this. So, I've had to figure it out on my own and spending 20 years being a Pilates instructor, and then a body worker, and working with some of the top athletes on the planet and realizing that, wow, this is such an area that's barely talked about or even touched like you mentioned. So, I guess for me, I started actually doing the hands-on body work and going into that area and realizing how connected it was to every other area in our body.
So, for me, the pelvic floor, basically what it is is the hammock of muscles, right? It connects our pubic bone, our tail bone, and our sitz bones. So, I like to call it the pelvic core. It's the base of the core, the deep core, whatever you want to call it. Essentially, it's an area that becomes very locked down and tight and clutched because of too much like subconscious stress energy that gets blocked in our base, which many people in the holistic world or in the spiritual world would call it the root chakra.
Ben: Okay. So, that's the root. What is that, the fourth, the root chakra?
Lauren: The root chakra is actually–it's the first one at the base. So, it's the one we want to address. I mean, it depends on who you talk to because some people say we have chakras in our feet, or in our hands. But in the traditional chakra system that's out there right now that you can read about, yeah, the root chakra is the first one and it's the one that we want to address from the beginning because it really does affect all the other ones. It's the foundation. So, if it's not having good clean energy and having the ability to contract and expand, and create space, and heal, then it will lock down and become scarred up, and then that energy will just get stuck in the tissues, and it also will block the chi, it will block the ability to cleanse the system in a healthy way as well.
Ben: So, it's both digestive function from almost like a rectal colonic standpoint, but then it's also sexual function in terms of like prostate, orgasm, libido, erection, blood flow, et cetera. So, it's kind of two different energy systems that would be affected if your pelvic floor is either out of alignment or not cared for.
Lauren: Oh, 100%. And also, it can even affect our guts, right, our ability to digest food and even absorb nutrients because when it's stuck in clutch, it will then compress the organs as well and it's directly connected to the diaphragm muscle, which is that dome-shaped muscle that separates the chest cavity from the abdominal cavity. And when those two are pulling together because of a contracted energy or collapsed energy and a stuck energy, then the organs are getting smooshed as well. So, then your body isn't going to be able to squeeze everything out of the food that we eat and even the emotional energy that we're trying to move through our guts to feel our gut instincts.
And so, when the pelvic floor is tight, it pulls the diaphragm down, and this can go both ways, and it essentially goes up into tightness in the shoulders and then a tightness in the jaw. And there's a fascial line–I mean, you guys know what fascia is. Fascia is that connective tissue that wraps around our entire body like a full-body wetsuit. It's kind of like a Saran wrap, but it's also this matrix, this living tapestry that sends energy through us. The nerves lie in the fascia, so do the lymph nodes, and so does the chi, the life force. So, when the fascia is compressed in these areas and becomes thick and dense, it loses blood flow circulation, obviously life force and chi, and then it creates that collapsing contracted energy. And so, that's why the jaw is directly connected. A lot of dentists will actually send their TMJ patients to pelvic floor therapists when they are realizing like it's actually coming from a totally different place in the body. But those structures within the body, the pelvic floor, the diaphragm, the shoulders, and the jaw, and the cranium are directly connected and creates such an impact on your overall health and vitality, and also just energy.
Ben: Okay. So, one thing I wanted to touch on that I thought was fascinating was I recently interviewed David Rubin, who doesn't work with the MAPS Foundation, and we talked about epigenetic trauma. And, you actually touched on this in your book. You actually cite a study at McGill University where they showed that the children of women who were pregnant during a massive ice storm in Quebec showed some pretty distinctive DNA patterns based on their mother's exposure to stress. He talked about like the Dutch winter hunger. And then now, we're seeing, especially with the emergence of plant medicine being used for trauma release, particularly epigenetic trauma, that people are almost like reliving and releasing traumatic experiences that they may not have had, but that their mother's or father's or their ancestors may have had. Now, that actually is directly related to the pelvic floor in this weird way. Can you explain?
Lauren: Well, yeah, because whenever we have trauma, whether it's–you know, because trauma lives in our tissues. So, if we have trauma that's stored in our bodies or our minds, then we have the ability to change it with our awareness. So, I think that's what this is all about. I mean, epigenetics to me is the way of becoming empowered to know that we are not a victim of our genetics, but that they do influence us and make us more predisposed for certain issues, ailments, tensions, or even diseases. So, I believe that the whole epigenetic philosophy–well, it's actually not a philosophy, it's a science, is going to have a huge impact on the evolution of humanity right now and how we can actually become less of a victim of our circumstances and environments, and actually become more empowered too with that awareness and that consciousness to shift it.
Ben: Okay. So, we're all adults here so let me be even more specific. Let's say your grandmother was raped or had some kind of sexual trauma, or perhaps your mother, could you then say that–let's say like a male has prostate issues, or constipation, or prolapse, or hip tightness or pelvic floor issues that they can't seem to figure out, could that theoretically, and let me know if any research has been done on this too, be related to epigenetic trauma?
Lauren: I mean, gosh, of course, it could, and I think that it's good to look at those possibilities, but also sometimes it can be a little bit–what's the word? Like, we don't want to go down the rabbit hole too far. You know what I mean? I think the key is to really become more in tune with what our bodies are telling us, too. Like, if there is an issue like that, it means that something is asking for attention. And pain to me, I always think of pain as like a way to reframe, it's communication, it's our body asking for awareness, attention, and communication. But I mean, as far as if we can say that's something that happened to one of our, like you said, grandmother or grandfather, that kind of trauma that happened, that could definitely be living in our cells, in our DNA. I don't want to be saying that we are going to be a victim to that. Do you know what I'm saying?
Lauren: So, I think it's important to honor it and know that stress is going to make us more susceptible, it's going to make us more inflamed, it's going to lower our immune system, all of those things. But I think it's more important to even focus on the fact that yes, we have a certain DNA and certain genetics, but we are not those genetics necessarily. And those things only turn on when that immune system lowers, that vibration lowers. So, I think that's where this whole thing with the pelvic floor for me and all the power centers really is about awakening this deep awareness and this consciousness inside the body, understanding your nervous system, understanding how your physiology works and learning how to position a new mindset around what our bodies telling us. Like getting into this sensation again, feeling again, having pleasure, like we are meant to have these sensory systems and these sensory experiences, and that's a beautiful part in a healing part of life.
Ben: Okay. Yeah. That makes sense, and I didn't really plan on going there too deeply because you and I are kind of more biomechanists than we are yogi shaman plant medicine —
Ben: –plant medicine–what do you call them, people who sit in on medicine sessions? Not therapist. We're not psychiatrists, we're not psychologists, but anyways —
Lauren: Oh, right, right, right, exactly.
Ben: Facilitators. We're not facilitators, at least I don't know think you are, and I'm not.
Lauren: Yes. Good word.
Ben: But anyways, yet another grasping for words. So, that being said, I would love to get back into some of the biomechanics, some of the nerve function issues, and some of these five power centers that you talk about. But before we do, you were starting to go down the route of this tightness in the pelvic floor, almost like clutching of the pelvic floor, very similar to how we might clutch or tighten our jaw subconsciously throughout the day.
Ben: Now, you talked in the book about this state of hypertonicity and some of the issues that that creates. Can you describe a little bit what happens when we clutch or tighten that pelvic floor?
Lauren: Yeah. So, what happens is–I mean, kind of what the common theme these days is, everyone's talking about, we're living in fight or flight, we're living in the doing the yang, the pushing through, making it happen, control kind of energy, that's the masculine energy that most of us are living in and sort of probably in too much and too extreme. And so, what's happened is our bodies have really just–everything has tightened up, so we haven't had the ability. We're sitting too much, we're not getting up to do our movement medicine, we're not freeing up the emotional energy, and so our systems are locking down, and they're creating this compression and this clutching.
And then, like I was saying earlier, the breathing is so important for pelvic floor too. And so, people are not breathing deep like they should. They're not moving their bodies in all the different ranges of motion, twisting and [00:19:42] _____, all of those different things, side bending that's supposed to help the body unwind and rebalance on a daily basis. And so, what happens is this stuck energy starts happening in our pelvic floor, especially because we're sitting on our ass all day. So, all that energy is sort of pulling down there. And then, we're also just pretending like that part of our body doesn't exist. No one talks about pooping or sex very much unless it's porn. So, it's this very extreme, sort of it's either all or nothing. And so, there is no in-between. And I think what our world is calling for and asking for is more of that yin energy, more of that calming, the feminine energy in all of us is rising, or we want it to be, because that is the balance, right? We want to have the yin and the yang, we want to have both the doing and the being, and we want to be able to be in more flow instead of so much force and pushing through.
And so, that's where to me, the pelvic floor is the physical connection to that energy, to awakening that energy and knowing because you can–I mean, people have been talking about Kegels forever, but Kegels is only the [00:20:41] _____ right? It's only the control, it's only the clutching and bearing down. And what's missing in that, and a man did describe that, and of course men do have pelvic floors–actually, I get asked that a lot. Do men have pelvic floors? I'm like, I know you and your audience know that but —
Ben: Yes. We have a pelvis and it has a floor.
Lauren: I know. I'm like, “Yes.” But anyway, so essentially, the idea of learning how to expand the pelvic floor create the space, will actually create–when you do that, you're eccentrically lengthening, right? So, then we have more ability to have more strength when we can eccentrically elongate and then concentrically contract. You're going to be able to always use the bicep as the example, like if you're going to fully contract and have the most strength you can get out of your bicep curl, then you need to fully extend and expand and lengthen to get the full strength. So, that's my whole message is like, how are we going to have real strength, like really powerful strength from the inside out? Unless we can learn how to let go, fully surrender, expand and elongate, and open, and then we can contract and so much more powerful strength comes, if that makes sense.
Ben: Yeah. It kind of reminds me of what Paul Check, another podcast guest who I've had on, talks about specifically with men, and he talked to me about this issue because he did a biomechanical analysis on me. This is probably stemming from both my bodybuilding days as well as my parents telling me to kind of like suck your stomach in, tighten your abs, stand up tall, stand up straight. And, I think men, and women of course, will develop this issue as well sometimes depending how they were raised and what they were taught. But men can be very subconscious about just letting their tummy hang out and releasing some of that pelvic tightness and tension that might somehow detract from their six-pack or their V-shape in their waist.
For me for the longest time, that created an issue. Like I mentioned, I went through some pretty serious biomechanical issues related to my pelvis and my psoas, and a big light bulb moment for me occurred when I was taught how to inhale diaphragmatically, and at the same time, relax the entire pelvic floor, which is of course what you do or should be doing during a bowel movement. And then, during the exhale, lightly tighten and allow for some tonicity in the pelvic floor and just learn how to loosen and tighten the pelvic floor in correspondence to the breath. And that actually helped me a lot, particularly during bowel movements, and also that same practice, as you've already alluded to, related to the importance of the root chakra and sex seems to really enhance sexual function, erectile function, orgasm quality as well when you can learn to breathe into your pelvic floor and control some of that function with your breath. But a big part of it for me came down to the realization that I didn't have to hold my tummy in all the time.
Lauren: I know, right? It's so tried. I went through the same thing with all the years doing Pilates, teaching Pilates. And then, I went to school for structural integration, which is another form of Rolfing. And, my teacher was like, “You got to let your belly go, like you are just holding that thing in so tight.” It's amazing how that really did open up my hamstrings. It gave me so much more flexibility in my hips. My hamstring mobility was like–I mean, I must have doubled from letting go of that. I mean, because that was directly connected to the pelvic floor, like you were saying.
So, yeah. I mean, it's pretty massive. I love that you brought up the sex thing because I have worked with a lot of male athletes in my career and many of them have said they have seen huge–I've actually gotten text messages from the wives or girlfriends and they're like, “Oh, my god, what have you done? Because he is so much better in bed.” Because what it does is actually, the awareness, the connection when you get to know this part of your body and you start to understand it a little more, it takes you out of your head and into your body when you're in those moments of intimacy and pleasure. So, you're not overthinking too much in your cerebral mind. You're actually feeling in more of your emotional body, right? So, you have this ability to feel and slow down. But another thing they've all mentioned was that they have a much better time of controlling when the orgasms come, they last a lot longer, they have more stamina, and they even have the ability to go multiple times as well when they have this sort of awareness. So, it's not always just such a tightening. It's really sort of allowing more of that sensuality and more pleasure as well.
Ben: Yeah. There's a book called “The Multi-Orgasmic Male“, which I read. It's really good as far as walking you through how to do some of that with your breath. But it's kind of funny because a lot of this can be related to sexual pressure societally, meaning that, I think from an evolutionary standpoint, a male with strong abs or a visible psoas or a tight core–and this might be considered crude or uncouth but would be possibly regarded as better capable of not only being biomechanically functional, but maybe being able to thrust better during sex or be a better sexual partner or something like that.
And, we associate even in Instagram photos, that trail going down the groin when guys are standing. The tight stomach is being associated with this alpha male dominant sexual status when in fact it's creating, as you get into in the book, that extreme state of hypertonicity in the pelvic floor, which creates all these other issues. And, what I like in the book is how you get into each of these different power centers that we can focus on, not just the pelvic floor, but the other floor, the deep core, the upper core, the heart and shoulders, and the head, neck and jaw, to actually reverse a lot of those issues.
And so, what I would love to get into are these five primary power centers that you've identified because I really like how you've chunked these into specific sections, and then how we can optimize each of them. So, again, a question that I think will probably rabbit hole a little bit as we discuss, but can you get into what the five primary power centers are?
Lauren: Yeah, of course. So, the reason why I came up with this theory or theme was because working on multiple people for so long, I started seeing these pattern. So, I started seeing these areas where I like to call it like where the stress was being contained, like this energy was being held and becoming thicker and denser and creating less range of motion and flexibility and less neuromuscular connection. So, that was what I just saw was like a plaque building up. I like to talk about fascia connective tissue like as this residue that builds up in certain areas, fascia that's blocked or congested or brittle or thick. It just has lost the oxygenated blood. I think of it almost like plaque inside this. I'm like, “You need to floss your teeth, you need to exfoliate your skin.” It's the same thing. You need to move that tissue around in order to hydrate it, in order to bring circulation, blood flow, movement, energy, chi, whatever it is.
So, what I was seeing is these areas were all getting congested. And so, I realized that the pelvic floor was the first one we had to get to, and the pelvic floor is connected to the feet, by the way. You have that medial line, right, that starts from the inner arch of your feet and goes all the way up through your inner leg, up through your inner thigh, and then up into your pelvic floor as well.
Ben: Yes. And if I could jump in just real quick and comment on that, one of the things that was very useful for me as I began to address my own pelvic floor issues was, A, keeping a golf ball underneath my standing desk and doing medial work on the inside of my foot, like releasing the medial side of the foot. And then also, using a roller. And I had to actually get a roller that was able to come off the floor. I got to remember the name of it, but it's like one of those rollers that's on a stand. And so, you're actually able to throw your leg over the roller and get into the adductor because anybody who's tried to foam roll the adductor knows that it's a very difficult place to leverage your body over and actually get a good kind of roll on. And I think it's called the HighTrainer, I want to say. I'll hunt it down and put a link in the shownotes–or the HighRoller. It's HighRoller. I'll link to it in the shownotes, but essentially, it's a foam roller that's on stands. And so, because it's off the ground, you can really target your upper inner adductors with it. So, that and the golf ball were really useful for me, sorry to interrupt you, but when you talk about the foot and the adductors being kind of like where the pelvic floor is going to be affected from the ground up, those two sections really helped me.
Lauren: Yeah, absolutely. And the other thing I use too is the Rebounder because when you gently bounce on the Rebounder, it's a phenomenal way to–actually, there was research in Germany now that they actually have seen tone regenerate from using the Rebounder in a gentle way, especially for women that have had prolapse or a lot of damage from inability to basically, incontinence.
Ben: It's so funny how a lot of the things that you're talking about, I kind of intuitively stumbled upon. So, I have a Rebounder and people make fun of me sometimes, especially some of my friends who are athletes who think I'm bouncing up and down of the Rebounder to get fit, I'm not. I'm doing it for the lymph and for some of the pelvic floor issues that you've just described. But, my Rebounder is in–I saw this term actually from my friend Luke Storey in what I call the Zen Den of my house where I've got a sauna and a hyperbaric chamber, and this thing called the BioCharger. And, what I actually do is I stand in front of the BioCharger, which is–it's like a Rife frequency PEMF generator that has a little bit of ozone, stand in front of that. And just at some point during the day for 15 minutes, I'll put on an audiobook or a podcast and go and bounce up and down on the trampoline doing different breath holds and alternating right foot, left foot, but I just do it during a BioCharger session because I'm all about stacking modalities so I'm not wasting my whole day —
Lauren: I love it.
Ben: –with body care. But yeah, I'm literally on a Rebounder for 15 minutes every day for about the past year and a half.
Lauren: Oh, you are speaking my language. So, this is what I have every client get, like you said, a sauna, a Rebounder, my rolling tools. And then, they have like their own in-home spa/gym. It's incredible. So, it's a great way. Anyway, the Rebounder is phenomenal for regenerating tone in the pelvic floor. And also, if you think about it when you're going up and down with the G-force, you're opening up the organs, right? So, that really helps free up some of that stagnant blocked energy or that plaque, like I called it a few minutes ago, and it's opening up the diaphragm just–and also, you don't really even have to think about it because it's just happening. It's not like you have to force it to happen, you just get on there and bounce. And like you said, the lymph thing obviously is super important as well. I mean, in the environment we live in, in the world we live in, we've got to be more mindful of flushing our lymph, too. I believe too, it does help clear blocked energy as well. It's like shaking things out, like that idea of flushing it out through the shake and the bounce. So, that really helps free up those power centers that get congested for sure.
Ben: Well, hello. I want to interrupt today's show to tell you about kApex. kApex is a supplement, and it was originally designed to help you digest fats, especially useful through ketogenic, if you're eating like a high-fat low-carb diet and you're winding up with like little bits of oil or fat in your stool. That isn't normal, folks. You also should not feel like you got to go decommission a bathroom right after you've had like a cup of butter coffee or a bunch of coconut milk in your smoothie. A big part of this can be your bile production, your fat-digesting enzyme production. And so, this kApex was designed to digest all the fats that you might have in a meal that's like a higher fat lower carb meal.
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Alright, back to today's show.
Yeah. And related to the pelvic floor, this first power center that you're talking about. In the book, you have what you call movement medicine for each of these different power centers, each of these five power centers. And for the movement medicine part of the pelvic floor, you actually utilize in addition to recommending things like the Rebounder, adductor work, [00:35:47] _____ et cetera, the use of a squishy ball.
Ben: And, I had not done much with the squishy ball until I visited my friend Tracy Duhs down in San Diego, who's got a wellness facility down there. And she showed me, she took me through like an hour-long session with this squishy ball and I had no clue how much tension you could release with just like a wimpy little ball. So, get into the squishy ball and how that works and why you recommend it particularly for the pelvic floor section of the book.
Lauren: Yeah. Well, I think again, I was working with people hands-on and going, “Gosh, this is such a shame that only people that I put my hands on can have access to this information.” So, I'm like, “I got to figure this out.” So, I went on my own journey and became my own guinea pig and tried it with my clients and realized that using this ball was going to give people, first of all, that neuromuscular connection, the idea of if we get touched in an area, it wakes it up, basically. So, by using the sphere to sit on it and then move your body around in different areas, so you're freeing up how the things are attached.
So, a lot of the issues that are happening in our body from biomechanical standpoint are from rotations, right, torque in the body, things are being pulled in certain directions, and then the connective tissue glues into that position, locks us in, compresses the joints. So, what happens when you use the sphere is it allows you to get into where the muscles attach the joints. So, it's freeing up those areas that you can't get to with any other kind of rolling tool. You can use different size balls. I mean, personally, I like a firmer ball for the pelvic floor when you do the pelvic floor section in the book, or in my video courses online, I use it to sit on it and then we unwind it through doing certain stretches or breathwork to really awaken that connection.
And then also, we take a little bit of the air out to roll the belly, the guts because as you know, I mean again, the pelvic floor, the psoas, and the guts are like a really hard area to roll, to do it yourself. So, I was like, “I've got to design a tool that's going to get into the connective tissue and unwind things without using your traditional roller.” So, the sphere, because it's squishy, it forms to your body and it goes into the areas to clear out the cobwebs and free up, like I said, where the muscles attach to the joints and frees up some of those deeper areas that you can get to when you get hands-on bodywork. But if you want to do it yourself at home and you want to do it on a daily basis like you would brush your teeth or floss or exfoliate, which is what I recommend, then five or ten minutes on that body sphere or squishy ball, you're going to feel like a new person because you're getting into those deeper areas, and then the energy is flowing better, and you have more connection, and you have the ability to strengthen those muscles more efficiently, and to feel yourself a little more, too.
Ben: Yeah. In the past, I had tried to do some pelvic and psoas work. And it actually does work for the psoas, but not for the pelvis. The very firm vibrating balls, like the Hyperice, Hypersphere balls that vibrate and they're super formed, and those are amazing for like a pelvic or a psoas release or kind of working —
Lauren: Like an iliac crest maybe, too?
Ben: Yeah, yeah.
Ben: I also like to work them along the iliac crest and also the glute med and glute minimus, you can get into that tissue with those. But then when you get down around the perennial areas and the pelvic floor, not only does that firmness put you at increased risk for causing some damage, but it's very difficult to get them to mold around some of those organs and some of those softer tissues. And the squishy balls just work fantastically for that. There's literally like a few bucks on Amazon. This is just like miniature squishy yoga balls.
Lauren: Yup. I mean, I designed my own because I wanted it to–I'm really picky with the material and I wanted it to be a more eco-friendly material. And also, they're made in Italy, actually, but they're also–it's more of like, we call it a hook. You want to hook it into your connective tissue so it has a little more of a stickiness to it. Some of the balls you can more easily slide off of. This one, particularly, has a little more of a hook into the connective tissue. So, I'd prefer that one.
Ben: Is your ball on Amazon the one that you designed?
Lauren: It is, yeah, Amazon and pretty much anywhere you can buy physical therapy products.
Ben: What's it called?
Lauren: It's called the Body Sphere.
Ben: The Body Sphere. Okay. I'll hunt it down and put a link for folks, the Body Sphere ball. Okay. So, we use that and you've got some great illustrations in the book. And what I will do, by the way, for all of you listening in, I'm going to link to the book in the shownotes for everything that we discuss over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/powersource. That's BenGreenfieldFitness.com/powersource.
So, you walk people through how to use that book, or how to use that ball, and then you get into some of these other parts of the power center because it doesn't just stop with your pelvic floor. Obviously, as you've just noted, you got to start there, but then where do you move from there?
Lauren: So, the next one where of course I've seen so much holding and stuckness is obviously the guts, the belly. It's amazing how many gut issues are coming up in our younger generation, and that has a lot to do with–as you know, the vagus nerve lives in our guts and it's really because we're always in this sort of–even if it's lower level stress mode, we're always like, “Oh, we're getting that email,” or, “We're getting cut off in the car.” There's always just that sense of feeling like something is–I got to keep going. What's next? What's next? So, it's like there's a lot of these stomach issues, gut issues coming up, I mean, in all of our–not just the younger generation, but in everyone. It seems like a lot of people have digestive issues, constipation, pain in their stomach, and it's a lot.
And also, people are overeating, and they're stress eating, and they're like not even eating because they're hungry, they're just eating because they're stressed and they're–I find a lot of people in–or my clients and people that have done my online programs, they've reduced their sugar cravings by working with their connective tissue, especially though getting into their guts and their stomach area. And of course, that has a lot to do with lower back as well and like having that pooched belly has a lot to do with the tension and build-up that occurs in the stomach area, too. So, by working the connective tissue around, and then also doing the breathwork and visualizing, kind of understanding how your body works better, again, you become more empowered and you become more in tune, and then you can actually learn like how to relax your system.
And so, doing the belly rolling is phenomenal though because it actually addresses that vagus nerve, which is connecting to the brain and puts you into the more calm state of the nervous system, the parasympathetic state. So, it's a great tool if you're feeling really overwhelmed or stressed. It also helps you breathe deeper and more efficiently, and it just helps you get more in tune with your gut instinct, and also just a more of a better sensation of if you really are hungry. Does that make sense? Like, if you're always so stressed and holding your stomach the whole time, you can't even feel that you're hungry because it's like numb.
Ben: Yup, exactly. And this stuff all comes full circle, obviously, if you're pulling pelvic floor tension and sucking your abs in all the time. It does influence feelings of hunger, appetite, release of digestive enzymes, et cetera. And one thing to note for people is that when Lauren's talking about the deep core, that's really that entire part that's located around your belly button area. And probably, the most important muscle there is the psoas, which is just kind of a hip flexor, but it's so interesting. If you actually look at the psoas, it attaches right behind the organs, right in front of your spine if you can visualize that, and then it runs under your diaphragm and it goes into your hips or through your hips, into your groin.
And so, if the psoas is tight, this is something that can affect your organ function and your pelvic function farther down. And, as I'm sure we'll get into as we move up to the higher power centers, Lauren, what's going on with the shoulders and the head, the neck, and the jaw. And that was another one. Like I mentioned, that was a big lightbulb moment for me when I realized how tight my psoas was and how much that was affecting probably three things, hip flexor tightness that was causing low back pain, deactivation of glutes that was affecting my power and my push-off when I was running or squatting or lunging, and then a bowel function. And when I learned about this idea of releasing the psoas, it was amazing.
One thing that I do two or three times a week, like I mentioned, is I'll use that vibrating round Hyperice foam roller or sphere roller to start on the outside of the hips, work my way all the way around, kind of like tracing the entire path of the psoas, stopping right around the bellybutton, placing my whole body weight over that for a minute, and then tracing back around. And I'll do about three to five times on the right side and three to five times on the left side. And by doing that just a few times a week, it's a total game-changer for my psoas.
And then, the other one, and I want to ask you about this one because it's a new device and they've been advertising on a bunch of podcasts, they sent me one, and I'm interested to hear your thoughts on this because prior to this device coming out, I would just use kind of like if I wasn't using that roller, like a kettlebell handle to just dig into the psoas. But there's this new device called the Pso-Rite and it's like this plastic-shaped device that's designed for a psoas release. Have you seen this?
Lauren: How do you spell it?
Lauren: I'm trying to remember. I know, I feel like I get DM'd about these things so much. I think I have. Is it like two little pointy things up like rubbery?
Ben: Yeah. That's exactly what it is.
Lauren: Yeah. I mean, I think all of these tools are phenomenal. I think you just have to be careful, like you said, because we're getting into these areas that if you don't know what you're doing, it can be–I mean, you just want to be careful, is what I want to say. That's why I like the squishier ball because for people just to start, they've never even done anything like this before, to start getting in there, and then get to know it a little more and start understanding a little more, maybe learning, looking at a graphic of the organs and understanding that because the psoas is, like you said, it's behind the organs. So, there's only certain areas where you can actually get to it and expose it. You can't get the whole thing.
So, I feel like those tools can be helpful if you know what you're doing. And maybe it's good to just go and have like a session of a hands-on body session or a physical therapy session, and have someone really introduce you to that part of your body, and then do the stuff at home on your own. But I think, especially when you're dealing with these softer areas in our body and more of the viscera, then it is important to be a little more educated and aware instead just like jamming things into your stomach.
Ben: It is important. And I think you're right, like starting with the softer and squishier options until you're really intimately familiar with how it feels to trigger the psoas. It is important because it is around some of your organs. I don't want to irresponsibly recommend people start shoving a kettlebell handle into their psoas. But typically —
Lauren: I mean, you, of course.
Ben: Yeah. Just so people know, you're lying face down on your belly typically when you're doing psoas work unless a massage therapist is working manually on you. And a big, big part of it, and I think you mentioned this in the book, is that you want to kind of, and correct me if I'm wrong, breathe into whatever device that you're using to release the psoas. I think that's a big part of it is you have to kind of pause over the psoas, find the tight spots, then take a deep belly breath into that area and hold it and then release it, and that seems to do a really good job with the psoas release.
Lauren: Yeah. And also, doing a little–I mean, like I do with the hands-on too, you can do it with any of the tools. But doing the contract first and then the relax is a really powerful tool because that also sends a message to the nervous system to start realizing, “Okay. I feel this and now I feel safe to let go and let whatever you're putting in there go in deeper.” So, it's important to, again, to go into that, like I even do that with the pelvic floor when I do hands-on with people, like, I ask them to contract it so that they can neuromuscularly connect to what it is or where is it. And then some people, like literally, they cannot even squeeze their pelvic floor. They can't really even feel their psoas. It's incredible how disconnected people are.
And so, the beginning is that. I mean, we have to be able to visualize it, be able to see it, then connect to it, then breathe into it, then start understanding it a little more, then maybe feel it when we're doing a workout or going for a walk or taking the class or a dance class or lifting weights or whatever it is, doing whatever sport. You start realizing, “Oh my gosh, I can't believe how much I use my pelvic floor when I'm doing squats or how much I use my pelvic floor or my psoas when I'm doing any kind of activity, whether it's a race or –” I think it's really important to just–you've got to turn it on first before you just start jamming things in there. And, you know, that's part of the feminine energy. That's me. I mean, that's totally my whole thing. It's like we really need to slow down, connect, really find the awareness first because that's where the power is, and that's what I talk a lot about is, like that's why I called it the power source because these more fine-tuning nuances is really where the foundational power comes from, and especially with wanting to all of us want to reach our highest potential. Especially I'm sure, you and your audience, like, how are we going to do that? It's not going to be just forcing more, it's really about going the other way because we're so extreme that way. Now, we need to harness the energy in the other way. Does that make sense? To create more of that balance.
Ben: Yup, it makes perfect sense. So don't go straight to the kettlebell, fellas. Okay. So, the next, like the third power center, so we got the pelvic floor, we've got that deep core which includes of course the psoas, which we just discussed, and then what's the third?
Lauren: Wait, before we go to the third, I have to say —
Lauren: –because have you ever heard the psoas be called the muscle of the soul?
Lauren: Because it's our deepest muscle, so it's–yeah, it's a thing in ancient Taoist tradition, and it's basically because that part of our body is so directly connected to sort of our reptilian days, like in evolution. So, that does have some of that epigenetic DNA. So, it's really important for people if they want to understand themselves more to get into that psoas because it's such a foundational. I think of it as such pillars of our bodies, right? It's connecting our body, our upper body to our lower body, too. So, I love that you're so into the psoas. A lot of people don't even know what this, so it's brilliant that you're shedding light on that. It's so massively important for overall functionality.
Ben: I'm so psoas.
Lauren: You are so psoas. So, then we move up to the upper core. Now, this area to me is–I mean, gosh, they're all so amazing to me, but the upper core because it's where it's directly connected to our lungs, right? So, I've found that a lot of people store emotional energy in the diaphragm. We call it the personal power center in–or personal power chakra in the yogic tradition. And, I'm not sure why the emotional energy gets stuck there. It's probably because maybe we're not stepping–people would say that we're not stepping onto our true path, right? So, we're not stepping into our true power or we're maybe trying to control people too much or we're holding energy in.
So, the diaphragm obviously is the muscle that's responsible for taking an oxygen, and also flushing CO2 out of our body. And most people don't realize that they can take in about two gallons of oxygen into their lungs. They're not using that much. Most humans are using about 20% to 30% of that capacity, and that's going to slow all of our systems down including our metabolism, and obviously our ability to deal with stress. So, to me, the diaphragm is incredibly important as well connecting it to the pelvic floor. When we learn how to breathe more expansively, more three-dimensionally, then we actually, as we breathe in, our diaphragm pushes down into our organs, our organs drop down into our pelvic floor and our pelvic floor opens and expands. And that's just a natural thing that happens in our system subconsciously. But when we bring awareness to it and become conscious of it, we can make it even more enhanced.
So, as we exhale, everything is going to contract naturally, squeezing up. The organs will push up into the diaphragm and the diaphragm will push up into the lungs and squeeze and wring out the CO2. So, it's really important that we breathe efficiently in order to live our best life and have our bodies be the best that they can possibly be because breath is everything, right? Especially when we're in a time of stress, we need to be able to ground ourselves and take a few deep breaths. It changes everything. It changes your energy, it changes your state, and also it's our tool as human beings.
Ben: To push back a little bit on that, what do you–well, I do agree that breathing is almost like massage for your deep core, and especially for things like bowel movements or sex, like we discussed, is incredibly powerful at moving energy through those organs. But then, there are folks like Patrick McKeown, for example, the author of the book “The Oxygen Advantage” and several others in kind of the breathwork sector of late, who have identified this problem of over-breathing, of focusing too much on these deep long breaths, and essentially breathing off carbon dioxide.
And so, a lot of these folks are now recommending things like the control pause technique where you do a full exhale, not a forced exhale but a relaxed exhale, and then see how long you can last on that exhale with typically 40 to 60 seconds being a really good score. And then, training yourself how to breathe almost very lightly and silently through your nose. Like, they claim that this over-breathing issue is actually causing people to blow off CO2. Have you come across much of that?
Lauren: Yeah. I mean, I think what they're doing is they're kind of stretching the capacity of how far you can take the body, and then when you're in your normal state. It's like what we would–I was an athlete and we'd train in the altitude, and then we come down to compete not in the altitude, and it's amazing how your body just is way more efficient. So, I think it's really that idea. So, it's like, it's not really that we're supposed to be like deep breathing all day long, it's just more like that's the tool that we have when stress arises, and that's how our system releases it.
I think all of those ways of pushing the capacity of a human and making them go beyond their boundaries and pushing that–do you know what I'm saying? Like, stretching that nervous system or that resilience, I think that's what they're talking about. And I think that's phenomenal, and I think it's super important, and I think you're right. The nose breathing, because it's a natural filter, is phenomenal way. I do teach sometimes the exhale through the mouth just to connect to the deep core. I find that can be helpful. But as far as like walking around in our daily day or sleeping at night, inhaling and exhaling through the nose is a really amazing way to obviously stay clean, and also our systems just work better that way, too.
Ben: My take on this is that those guys are onto something and that carbon dioxide retention is actually something that is significantly helpful due to the Bohr effect because if you're doing a good job oxygenating and taking those deep diaphragmatic breaths, if you're exhaling a little bit more lightly over a longer period of time, oxygen will more readily dissociate into things like muscle tissue or heart tissue if carbon dioxide levels are elevated. And because of that, I think you can have the best of both worlds because you can do deep diaphragmatic belly breathing through your nose, and then you can exhale through your nose or through slightly pursed lips, and this is just a basic breathing habit you would use all day, focusing on exhaling for a slightly longer and more relaxed period of time, then you inhale. And that would be just like your basic breathwork pattern during the day rather than focusing on, “Okay. I'm getting to do my deep –” doing like a Darth Vader thing during the day I think is where a lot of people make the mistake.
Lauren: They're forcing it, and that's the same thing. It's like the idea of just letting it always use the visual of like, think of taking–you have a full bathtub and you're taking the plug out and then you're going to let the water just go down the drain. And essentially, that is exactly what you're saying is like taking your time, letting it gently come out, I think that's brilliant. I definitely agree with that.
Ben: And then, there's a time and a place to perhaps pull out, let's say during a pre-cold soak or a workout, pull out like the Wim Hof breathwork where you're really doing a lot more deep focused breathing. Or if you're going to go do like a holotropic breathwork session or something like that, that's where you get into the more rigorous breathing where you're actually breathing off a lot of CO2. And so, there's a time and a place for that, but as far as your basic breathwork pattern during the day, what I've settled on are those deep nasal inhales through the belly, and then nasal or pursed lips, relaxed, long exhale. That seems to work really well.
Lauren: The other thing I would say really quick along these lines is when you're doing these rolling techniques, the ones I have in the book, or whoever you can see stuff I do online, is let's say you're rolling your ribs out, you want to actually visualize the ribs and visualize breathing in and expanding intercostal, stretching the ribcage, opening the lungs in the front and the back body through dimensionally. And then, that's just more of sort of using your breath to give you that traction. So, that's like another way.
So, like you were saying with the Wim Hof, like there are times when it's good because you're basically stretching the tissues, the connective tissues to open up and expand and clear that density, thickness, compression, and contraction. So, in those instances, what you're doing is you're creating the capacity that's there for you and available for you when you need it or when you want to use it for like even having sex, or doing some sort of athletic thing or something. So, you have that there, that capacity of expansion and resilience and that sort of stretchy, eccentric space, and that's super important. So, when you're doing the rolling, you want to really be aware, like watching TV, you want to be thinking about yourself, breathing into it, expanding it. And then of course the breathwork, while you're doing it, is going to also purify your system as well. But I think again, it just helps people tune in to that neuromuscular connection and then create that smoothness in the connective tissue and the webbing.
Ben: Yup. It makes perfect sense. What's the fourth power center?
Lauren: Oh, so now we're making our way. After being in that personal power center, now we're making our way up to the heart, shoulders, the front and back body here and the upper body. I feel like this is the area where most people can say, “Oh, yeah, I have tension in my shoulders.” Who doesn't have the weight of the world on their shoulders? I've not met one person on the planet that doesn't have some sort of a knot in their shoulders. Even the best athletes on the planet have some sort of scar tissue or knots in their shoulders.
So, I think it's just the way we're designed in gravity part of it, but also, it's an area where we tend to–our shoulders start to go to our ears, and then everything becomes compressed. And so, then we obviously are sitting too much as people have been saying sitting is the new smoking, hunching over is obviously going to also compress the diaphragm and lungs as well. So, it's a really important area. Energetically, keeping your heart open and clear, but also structurally, to have front to back balance so you're not having those shoulders rolling forward that you're actually–because the shoulders rolling forward will pull on the connective tissue, and then that connective tissue will build up the knots to try to hold you up in gravity.
Ben: Yeah. And what I like are some of the moves, and this is one that I do where you're really kind of like opening up the shoulders and realigning what tends to be, as you've just alluded to, hunched over during a day of sitting, computer work, phone work, et cetera. And you've got a lot in there, but the two that I found to be key for me are a chest release, which you can do again with one of those squishy balls, literally, just like laying face down and doing exactly what we just described for the psoas except for doing it on the right side of the chest and then the left side of the chest.
And then, the other one that I really like that's super simple is you just get on a foam roller, roll it all the way up to the shoulders, and then flip those arms up in like a superman pose above the head. And, what I do when I do that is just push my elbows and the back of my hands into the floor behind me as hard as I can and it just opens up the entire chest, which is amazing if I've been working on my computer for a long period of time or I've been hunched over sitting on an airplane for a long time. And, if I don't have a foam roller and I can't get down on the floor, let's say I'm waiting for a plane to depart at the airport, I can just go back against the wall, flip the arms up.
And, what I like to do is put the–if people can visualize this, back of the elbows, back of the hands against the wall, so you're almost like doing a superman pose against the back of the wall, and then you just slide the hands up and down while trying to maintain contact with the backs of your hands, the back of your elbows, and the back of your shoulder against the wall. I'll get like popping in my shoulders, I'll get this amazing release in the chest. And so, yeah. I mean, if you do that, and at the same time, it can kind of keep the pelvis in alignment, it's a total game-changer from a postural standpoint.
Lauren: I actually designed a tool for that, for all my clients that were traveling so much in planes and all of that. It's actually called the Infinity Roll, and you put it right between this like two tennis balls together, you know. It's almost like a little–they call it the peanut. So, you put it right there between your shoulder blades. You could be at the airport wherever you are up against the wall and you do that exact move, or you can do like where you take the arms in the snow angel arms and then you can do, like this is our arms and then you start mobilizing that tissue around the upper back that's sort of–you know when you see an older man or woman walking down the street and they're super hunched over and they have kyphosis, that's actually connective tissue that's become thick, hard, and dense, and it's actually glued that person into that position.
So, it truly is preventable, yeah. Some people might be more genetically predisposed for that posture, but it doesn't have to happen because actually from gravity, it's that gravitational force that's pushing us down that's making us figure out a way to hold ourselves up in gravity. So, the human body is amazing that way, but then if we don't have awareness and we can't release some of those postural things that we've done all day long, I mean, the body is so amazing. It's a miracle, like it will unwind. All you need is like five minutes to undo the day. You can sit at your computer all day hunched over. As long as you do a few things to undo that shit, you are good, like you'll sleep better, you'll wake up better, you won't lose that inch or inch and a half in height that most humans do these days, at least in our Western culture.
Ben: And, by the way, one other thing I want to throw in before we get into the fifth power center, the fifth and final power center, and then I've got a few kind of fun closing questions for you as well.
Ben: And that is that I don't think sitting is the new smoking. I think sitting is an amazing way to activate your parasympathetic nervous system, and it is like my preferred posture, either sitting on the floor preferably or sitting in a chair for things like eating, praying, meditating. And I even run into a couple of clients who have been like, “I'm now meditating in a standing position to upregulate my fat enzymes and my glucose burning.” I'm like, “No. There's a time and a place when you want to be parasympathetically activated.” So, it's not that sitting is the new smoking, it's that sitting as a preferred position for eight hours a day is not a biomechanically favorable position. But I think if you want to be parasympathetically driven, then sitting or some form of sitting is one of the best positions to be in.
Lauren: Yeah. But like in a comfortable position, good mechanics and the ability to not be so hunched over, I think that's really good call.
Ben: Yeah. Even if you're going to stand all day and do your 20,000 freaking steps a day myopically as you're focusing on your Oura or your Fitbit or whatever, at least sit to eat, people. So, don't worry, you don't have to stand all the time.
Lauren: No. The standing creates other issues in the feet, too. It becomes terrible.
Ben: And it's the golf ball that is underneath my right foot literally right now while we're talking. Both my feet, they just get rolled the whole time I'm podcasting.
Okay. So, then you have the final power center, which if I recall properly is the head, right?
Lauren: Yeah. We call it the head, neck, jaw. Essentially, again, here we are talking about the cranial-sacral connection. And, within the cranial-sacral connection is our nervous system inside the spinal cord, and whatever is happening up top is going to be connected to the base. And so, the head to me, obviously, like so many of us are living in that sort of cerebral overthinking mind, over processing, over-worrying, all of those things. So, I think a lot of times, I've even said this before, people are like walking and talking heads and they literally have lost their connection to their body. And, it's a really important part because our emotions live in our body and we want to connect to those things and our thoughts or in our minds. So, we want to integrate the two. And so, I love to be able to help people understand how connected the jaw and the pelvic floor.
So, it's a very sort of physical connection of this over processing tension energy, subconscious clutching, bearing down, locking the jaw, head forward is also going to obviously compress and contract all the other areas. So, whatever is going on in one is going to affect the other, like a domino effect. Who knows which way it comes from, but a lot of times people are sitting at their computer with not necessarily good posture, their heads are forward. And so, with the weight of the head forward, then the base of the skull, the neck muscles there where the neck attaches to the base of the skull, those muscles or tissues start to get really thick and dense and then lock you into that kind of chin jutting forward. Really unattractive posture. You know what I'm talking about.
And then, what holds your head up in that position is your jaw. So, you're like, “Oh, what else is going to hold me up?” So you kind of clutch your teeth and bear down on your locking your jaw. And then a lot of people would say that the jaw tension or tightness or holding is also us holding, swallowing our emotions, not saying what we want to say. So, that can obviously cause a lot of neck issues, tension in the neck. And a lot of people over the years in my practice, I've seen so many people with neck issues, and so many of the neck issues has come from the shoulder tension or the jaw tension. So, it's usually also a weakened neck muscle. So, as the head's forward, then the front of the neck muscles start to weaken, the back of the neck muscles start to shorten and tighten into that chin jutting forward with the head kind of up, really like I said, unattractive.
And so, you're getting all of these muscular and structural imbalances happening. So, that's why I feel it's super important to talk about the jaw because when we can get our head back on our spine in a more aligned way, which again, only takes a few minutes of day every day at the end of the day clearing out that plaque, flossing your fascia or just becoming aware of that forward posture, it can have a massive impact on your overall health. I mean, your overall vitality. Again, bringing in that nervous system energy from moving that cerebral spinal fluid. I mean, every time we breathe, that's how our body pumps that cerebral spinal fluid up to our brain to basically feed our brain nutrients, and then also flush our brain of toxins.
So, if your head is all wonky forward and it weighs about 20 to 35 pounds, your energy in your chi, in your fluids are not going to be working very well. So, that's why I always recommend doing inversions, doing your own self body work on your neck, whether it's on the roller or the mat, or just stretching, or breathing, or doing physical therapy kind of stretches to create that space and keep the alignment lane on your long roller a long way. It's phenomenal.
Ben: Yeah. And what I like in the book is–because again, I love to do multiple things at once. And so, you've got exercises where you can be sitting on one of these softballs, so you're getting a little bit of a pelvic floor release. But then at the same time, you have some photos and images of how to do a jaw release, how you sit there, while you sit there, how to do ear poles like pulling on the tops of your ears as close to your head as possible and almost doing like a self-ear massage, how to do a temporalis release on the side of your head.
I think a lot of people think that they have to go see a craniosacral therapist, not that I'm against that because you can get amazing work done with the craniosacral therapist, but there's a lot you can do yourself and there's so many times when we're just like sitting, whatever, again like on an airplane as it's taxing, or perhaps while we are closing our eyes and meditating, or while we're doing some of this ball work on the pelvic floor, that you can use both hands and do some amazing jaw release, ear release, temporalis release. Like a lot of people just don't–I guess we should say just like play with their head enough, right? There's a lot of cool stuff you can do.
Lauren: And there's so much lymph around the ears, there's a bunch of lymph ducts there as well, so that can help–that's why if you ever feel like you're getting sick to give yourself a little massage around the scalp and around the ears, it's phenomenal way to boost the immune system, too. So, yeah. I mean, taking away–they call the fascia of the skull the Galilea Upper Neurotica because of all the nerves. That's why we all love getting a scalp massage. So, doing that on daily basis, that's an ancient Ayurvedic thing that you give yourself a scalp massage or a face massage. I mean, that's also clearing energy, it's also going to anti-age us, help us have more glowing skin. I mean, it's all connected. So, yeah. We got to work on the head too and the jaw, even if it's with our own hands.
Ben: So, those are the five power centers. Let me see if I can recite it from memory. We got the pelvic floor, the deep core, the upper core, the head, neck, shoulders. I'm missing one. Which one did I miss?
Lauren: So, that's right, heart, head–yeah, heart and shoulders, yeah.
Ben: No, because I said pelvic floor, deep core, heart, head, neck, shoulders, and upper core. Is that the five?
Lauren: No, no, you had it. You totally had it, yeah, pelvic floor, deep core, upper core, heart and shoulders, and then head, neck, jaw.
Ben: Okay. Got it. I was combining —
Lauren: You got it.
Ben: Okay. Cool. So, we didn't have time to get into some of the things that you talked about in the book, like different minerals and vitamins, and herbs, and protocols that you like to combine with pelvic floor therapy, but I'm going to ask you if you like lightning round-ish questions regarding that and a couple of other things, because I know we're running a little bit tight on time. But the first is sage. You talked about sage in the book. Why is that one of the first herbs that you discussed to utilize in something like pelvic floor therapy?
Lauren: Well, I think it's also just another thing, another tool or resource that we have a ritual we can indulge ourselves in for clearing our energy. So, sage has been known to purify and cleanse energy in our space. And so, it also is great. So, you can sage your own body, you can sage your own space. If you do your body, you want to do it outside. But it's really believed to essentially enhance our intuition and clear out any of–I mean, if you believe in energy, that's really what this is about. It's about using something from nature to clear negative energy in your space or around you, because we do pick that stuff up in our aura, in our energy field, in our quantum field.
So, it can be a very powerful thing and I like sage for the pelvic floor or the root because it's such an area of–the pelvic floor is the area of primal instincts, survival instincts. So, if you're feeling like you're not going to be able to pay your rent or someone's sick in your life, like a lot of that energy just clutches and bears down there, or if you're picking up someone else's energy. So, using sage to clear the energy is a really powerful tool in order to enhance that awareness and then just have more of a deeper connection to, I think, the base of our core. I mean, sage, you can use for any of them, but I chose that one because I think it's great to smudge every day anyway because you want to clear especially that part of our body.
Ben: Yeah. After I read your book, I added, because I always keep palo santo sticks in my sauna, I grab some sage. And so, now I alternate between sage and palo santo, like I can't even go in my sauna now without putting some kind of woo-woo scent in there. So, it's amazing.
Lauren: Oh, that's awesome.
Ben: So, thank you for the recommendation on sage because I love it.
Ben: Especially if I'm meditating in there, I like it better than the palo santo. Next question is pelvic floor specialist or pelvic floor therapists. If someone was going to go and actually have a therapist teach them, or I know some of these therapists are like jamming their fingers into your rectum and working around all the perennial areas and kind of getting in there deep into some of the areas of tension some people have or training them in proper breathwork, et cetera, is there a way to know that you're going to somebody safe if you're going to go see a pelvic floor specialist to actually do some hands-on work with you?
Lauren: Yeah. And what I've studied, Hellerwork Structural Integration, Rolfing, Ida Rolf work, all of those people that have been through the training, it's a rigorous training, it's a two-year program. And there is a network that we can give you. I can send you the link for it, but it's a network where you can find someone that's trained in that modality all over the world. And so, that is part of her philosophy. She developed this work in the 1960s and she basically taught everyone about pelvic floor. I mean, when I was in training to learn this, I was like, “Are you kidding me?” We have to put our hand, and there's 10 people in the class, and we had to each put our hand in each other's pelvic floor, men and women, and it was so intimidating at first.
And then, after I got off the table and I felt the results, I'm like, “Everybody needs to know about this. It's so massive.” So, I would highly recommend someone in the world of structural integration because they are trained in it from the energetic, but also physical biomechanical standpoint. And then also, you can find a physical therapist. They are starting to do programs now where people are trained in this work. I mean, it is a newer modality in the physical therapy world as well. But there are people obviously great to get a recommendation, check out the website where you can find a true structural integrative practitioner. And yeah, that's what I would recommend to go for it.
Ben: Okay. So, yeah. Well, in the past, because I've been to a pelvic floor specialist before, I went with someone who is actually a physical therapist, and that seemed to me, because physical therapists go through pretty rigorous education and they were really well-versed in biomechanics and I trusted them versus I guess going to like a yoga teacher or something like that, which I don't–not that yoga teachers are bad, but go with somebody who has been well-versed in biomechanics. And, if you do have a link to any other directories or practitioners you recommend, if you email it to me, I'll put a link in the shownotes for people over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/powersource. That's BenGreenfieldFitness.com/powersource.
There are a ton of other things that we didn't even scratch the surface on that are in your book, like how to do mantras and visualizations in correspondence with your pelvic floor work, a whole bunch of moves that I think people should get the book to go through. And books like this I keep in places where I stretch. I've got like “Becoming A Supple Leopard“, this book, a couple of yoga books and resistant stretching book. And I don't shelf them, I actually keep them in the same place I keep all my foam rollers and my sauna and everything.
So, you guys, if you get the book, any book like this, like any kind of therapy book, don't just read it and shelf it. Keep it top of mind because what's really great is anytime you're going to do like–I always spend 15 minutes every morning doing some kind of self-care. And so, I've got all these different books to choose from that I can return to over and over again. So, that's my recommendation for you all. If you get this book, just keep it where you stretch or keep it where you do therapy, so when it's top of mind like that, you can use this stuff. Just like you keep cookbooks in your kitchen, you keep books like this wherever you're going to do bodywork.
Lauren: I love that. It's a good call.
Ben: The other thing is if you have a personal trainer or a bodyworker or somebody like that, when you buy the book, just grab an extra one and give it to them so they can start to incorporate some of this stuff in your training program. That's another thing I'd love to do is–like for my massage therapists or anyone I'm working with who's a therapist, I try to keep them–I'll send them links to podcasts and the books. And so, you can kind of educate the people that you're working with, and it comes back around to you, and then they spread that around to a bunch of other people as well. So, it's a great way to get some good karma going. So, I'll put links to all this stuff over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/powersource. Lauren, if people wanted to come do a session with you, you're in L.A., right?
Lauren: Yeah. Actually, I don't really see clients anymore because I have my whole online platform. And then I teach at retreats and I teach workshops and stuff like that. So, yeah, you know how it is, it just gets so busy. You can only do so many things, but I have a ton of resources online as well, and I do have a free power center visualization. I sent you the link on that, too. If people wanted to just sort of get in tune with these areas by having–it's like a meditation, but it's also kind of a visualization talking about the anatomy and what's happening in those areas. So, it's a great way to learn about your body in those areas and deepen your awareness.
And then, I have my online studio. We have a seven-day free trial for anyone that wants to try any of my stuff in a video because I believe obviously, that always happens like with these recipes in the books. It's like they want to see it in video as well. So, it's a really powerful way and there's tons of different modalities. There's rebounding, there's foam rolling, there's mat work, there's breathwork, there's body rolling on all the different tools that I've created with them in partnership with OPTP. So, yeah. That's a great place to start. And then also, right now, we just created a new program to boost the immune system called Immunity Movement Medicine. So, that's a free course as well.
Ben: I love it. I'll link to all that over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/powersource. And, if any of you guys have questions, feel free to jump into the comments section over there, ask Lauren or I your questions, and remember to take care of your pelvic floor, people, because when you're young and it's all toned and it hasn't had a chance to develop hypertonicity or nerve dysfunction, you might feel great, but don't neglect it, take care of it while you have the chance.
Lauren: It's worth the investment.
Ben: Yeah. Read the book. So, alright. Well, thank you so much, Lauren, for coming on the show.
Lauren: Absolutely. Thank you.
Ben: And for writing this book.
Lauren: I love your curiosity. It's amazing.
Ben: Thanks. And, until next time. I'm Ben Greenfield along with Lauren Roxburgh signing out from BenGreenfieldFitness.com. Have an amazing week.
Well, thanks for listening to today's show. You can grab all the shownotes, the resources, pretty much everything that I mentioned over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com, along with plenty of other goodies from me, including the highly helpful “Ben Recommends” page, which is a list of pretty much everything that I've ever recommended for hormone, sleep, digestion, fat loss, performance, and plenty more. Please, also, know that all the links, all the promo codes, that I mentioned during this and every episode, helped to make this podcast happen and to generate income that enables me to keep bringing you this content every single week. When you listen in, be sure to use the links in the shownotes, use the promo codes that I generate, because that helps to float this thing and keep it coming to you each and every week.
I recently read a fascinating title by today's podcast guest—celebrity trainer and goop expert (whatever that means) Lauren Roxburgh—The Power Source: The Hidden Key to Ignite Your Core, Empower Your Body, Release Stress, and Realign Your Life.
In the book, Lauren presents a program that uses pelvic floor strength to release stress, fortify the body, and treat the physical and mental origins of tension.
If your body feels some form of stress every day, whether it's inflammation, bloating, tension, discomfort, anxiety, or pain during sex, then this show is for you.
I found this book particularly interesting because due to my hefty endurance training and compromised diet in the past, I've personally had to deal with issues such as extreme psoas tightness, rectal prolapse, chest breathing issues, and a host of other problems that I probably would never have encountered had I read this book earlier in my life.
Lauren believes that all of these problems can be solved by first unlocking the foundation of your mental and physical health: the pelvic floor. Located at the root of our pelvis, it determines how firm our core is, how we handle stress, and how much energy reaches the rest of our body. Without addressing the health of our pelvic floor, we are all missing out on a powerful key component of our overall physical, emotional, and spiritual health. Roxburgh presents an entirely new approach to building well-being—one based on a strong pelvic floor, open energy channels, and a clear mind.
The Power Source offers a deep understanding of how to cultivate this strength by following a holistic, multisensory program. Starting with the pelvic floor, Roxburgh focuses on the five power centers that can be harnessed throughout the body:
- Pelvic floor
- Deep core
- Upper core
- Heart and shoulders
- Head, neck, and jaw
With targeted exercises to encourage healing movement, nourishing recipes (from a Confidence-Boosting Tonic to Root-Rejuvenating Bone Broth), and holistic therapies that include visualizations, aromatherapy, and more, Roxburgh gives a full toolbox to realign your body and your life.
During this discussion, you'll discover:
-What the pelvic floor is, and what impact it has on our bodies…9:00
- “Pelvic core:” A hammock of muscles that connects the pubic bone, tail bone, and sitz bones
- Known as the “root chakra,” first chakra
- It's vital to unlocking the qi
- Digestive function and sexual function are affected if the pelvic floor is not properly cared for
- It eventually leads to tightness in the shoulders, jaw, fascia tissue, and more
- Dentists often send TMJ patients to pelvic floor therapists
-How the pelvic floor is related to epigenetic trauma…13:50
- Trauma lives in our tissues; we can change it with our awareness
- It is difficult to ascertain whether epigenetic trauma is the cause of physical ailments
- The key is to be attuned to what our bodies are telling us
-What happens when we excessively clutch or tighten the pelvic floor…18:40
- A sedentary lifestyle causes our physical and emotional systems to “lock down”
- Breathing deeply, moving body in full range of motion
- Stuck energy is pent up in the pelvic floor; no one discusses it
- We live in “fight or flight” mode; need to bring out more of the feminine energy (both genders)
- BGF podcasts with Paul Chek
- What Should I Eat? The Ultimate Podcast Guide To Choosing The Perfect Diet For You: Part 1
- Why Humans Need Winter, How Too Much Christmas Is Dangerous, Rites Of Passage & More With Paul Chek.
- Heavy Rock Lifting, Building Your Own “Water Charging” Station, Biomechanical Fixes, Plant Medicine Journeys & More With Paul Chek.
- Attention men: you don't need to hold in your stomach constantly
- Learning to breathe into the pelvic floor
- Book: The Multi-Orgasmic Man by Mantak Chia
-Easy, at-home pelvic floor therapy…26:38
- Roll a golf ball under your feet while working
- HighRoller – Ergonomic foam roller for rolling muscle and fascia
-Why a small squishy ball is vital to the health of the pelvic floor…35:24
- The Body Sphere ball or any yoga “squishy” ball
- The Hyperice vibrating ball
- You get into the area where the muscles connect with the joints
- Firmer ball for the pelvic floor
- You can mimic the effect of deep tissue work as often as you wish
-Why the gut is increasingly problematic in modern society…40:24
- Gut issues are more prevalent in the younger generation
- We're always in “stress mode” due to the modern lifestyle
- Overeating and stress eating
- Belly rolling puts you into the parasympathetic state, breathe deeper, get in tune with gut instinct
- Most important muscle in the gut area is the psoas
- Use the Hyperice vibrating ball to loosen the psoas muscle
- Pso-Rite (use code BEN10 to save 10%)
- Breathe into the device you're using
- Contract first then relax
- The psoas is called “the muscle of the soul”
-The importance of the upper core…50:46
- Directly connected to the lungs
- Diaphragm is the personal power chakra in the yoga tradition
- Takes in oxygen (you probably don't take in enough)
- Expels CO2
- Connects to the pelvic floor as we breathe
- Book: The Oxygen Advantage by Patrick McKeown
- CO2 retention is helpful due to the “Bohr effect”
- Ben says the optimal breathing for him is long inhales through the nose, and long exhales through the nose or pursed lips
-How to carry that weight on your shoulders and stay connected to your pelvic floor…58:45
- “Sitting is the new smoking” says Lauren
- Ben loves sitting for certain things: meditating, praying, etc. as it activates the parasympathetic nervous system
- Not viable for an 8-hour workday
- Keep the heart, upper body, shoulders, upper back loose and open
- Chest release done with a squishy ball or Lauren's Body Sphere ball
- Roll to shoulders with a foam roller
- Vibrating peanut massage ball
- Standing to excess has its own set of challenges
-The cranial sacral connection and the nervous system…1:04:36
- Head, neck, jaw
- Jaw tension is related to suppressing our emotions
- Getting the head aligned with the spine properly can be done in a few minutes per day and has a massive impact on your overall health
- A regular massage around the scalp and ears can boost the immune system
-Lighting round questions for Lauren…1:10:47
- Why is sage a part of pelvic floor therapy?
- Sage has been known to clear and purify our own personal space
- Enhances intuition and energy around us
- How to select the right pelvic floor therapist
- The Dr. Ida Rolf Institute
- Some physical therapists are becoming familiar with the practice
- Lauren's Free Power Center Guided Visualizations
-And much more…
Resources from this episode:
- The Power Source by Lauren Roxburgh
- The Multi-Orgasmic Man by Mantak Chia
- The Oxygen Advantage by Patrick McKeown
- What Should I Eat? The Ultimate Podcast Guide To Choosing The Perfect Diet For You: Part 1
- Why Humans Need Winter, How Too Much Christmas Is Dangerous, Rites Of Passage & More With Paul Chek.
- Heavy Rock Lifting, Building Your Own “Water Charging” Station, Biomechanical Fixes, Plant Medicine Journeys & More With Paul Chek.
– Gear and Equipment:
- The Body Sphere ball
- Yoga ball
- The Hyperice vibrating ball
- Pso-Rite (use code BEN10 to save 10%)
- BioCharger (save $500 with code BENG500)
- Vibrating peanut massage ball
– Food and Supplements:
- MiCacao cacao tea
- Four Sigmatic Chaga tea
– Other resources:
–Organifi – Green: Now you can get all your healthy superfoods in one glass…with No Shopping, No Blending, No Juicing, and No Cleanup. Get a 20% discount on your entire order when you use discount code BENG20.
–BiOptimizers kApex: kApex® is designed to rev up your cellular metabolism, which boosts your energy and capacity to burn fat as fuel. kApex breaks down the fats you eat into fatty acids, which allows you to increase the fatty acid oxidation inside your mitochondria both in your muscle and liver. Get 10% off any package with coupon code GREENFIELD10 when you order here.
–Vuori: Activewear and athletic clothing for ultimate performance. Vuori is built to move and sweat in, yet designed with a West Coast aesthetic that transitions effortlessly into everyday life. Receive 25% off your first order when you use discount code BENG-MAY20