Lissette Holland (Lisa), 40 of Ballantyne began Belly Guru in 2006. It began as a yoga studio geared specifically to pregnant women. After a year hiatus, she shifted her practice to one-on-one, personal yoga therapy studio with broad client base.
Q. How did Belly Guru begin?
A. Belly Guru LLC came out of 3 important needs. As a licensed healthcare provider, I saw a great need to speak to women about their health in a way that they would listen and take action. As I started to practice and read the research about long term health related to dietary and stress management I knew specific female health differences really need to be taught starting at a very young age. Pregnancy became my vehicle to administer sound preventative healthcare.
It is well known in the sports training room that women athletes are at higher risk of injuries due to hormonal shifts and alignments. As a mother I have also found that emotional bodies have a huge impact on our ability to heal. I figured if I could make busy moms like me healthy through a holistic practice like yoga then each would be able to bring it into her family.
When I moved to Charlotte in 2004 there was a lot of fitness based yoga taught in a repetitive and fast flow style which has now moved to very physical and hot forms of the practice. This is fine for the more able bodied person but for the populations I wanted to reach it was too intimidating so I developed a therapeutic style based upon my rehabilitative trainings and have added my guru's classical yogic lifestyle teachings.
Q. What led you to yoga?
A. I have had a decade long deeper practice. I, like many, began to practice when I became bored with weight training and aerobics. I soon found the deeper insight and self study of the practice to be a powerful healer especially from some depression episodes. The Pregnancy niche of my Mama Guru programming came out of my feeling personally frustrated at the lack of adequate rehabilitative care a woman is offered after delivery. I knew I rehabilitated myself from a pregnancy related nerve impingement and a pelvic floor problem I didnt even realize I had until I began training in pelvic floor myself and the post partum depression greatly diminished using yoga.
Q. Where did you learn yoga/who did you study under?
A. After training in the gym and by video for a couple of years, I obtained my first yoga teaching certificate through YogaFit systems in 2003. In 2008, I trained under Mara Healy who was training under my present teacher's Sri Dharma Mittra's lineage. I obtained my pregnancy certification at the North Carolina School of Yoga directed by Chandra Om who was my guru's senior disciple. This was a most fortunate exposure to my present teacher because since 2009 I have had the privilege to be taught by Dharmaji on deeper studies. I recently completed his 500 hour program and will be bringing Dharma Yoga to Charlotte soon.
Q. How are you able to integrate physical therapy in with yoga?
A. As a PT and an ATC, I always took a holistic approach so blending my personal yoga practice into my work was easy. Over time I saw faster results especially when I began to incorporate my manual therapy techniques into the energy healing practices and the mindset of healing through yoga. It is not the only way to alleviate suffering, but it is a very valid approach because it accepts that our mindset is 99 percent of the issue, regardless of the physical body's condition. This is where yoga magnifies the positive affects of physical therapy.
Q. What types of symptoms/injuries is yoga able to heal?
A. It sounds cliche but yoga can really help everyone that suffers from pain in some way. However, I stress that it needs to be fit for the individual. For orthopedics and neurology Yoga is definitely a wonderful way to connect the brain with the patterns of the body and vice versa. While everyone mainly see the physical benefits such as flexibility and strength, I especially like it for subtle emotional or spiritual pain tied into the physical body. Symptoms such as mood swings, hypertension, and unexplained infertility have responded well to classical yoga techniques. Many chronic musculoskeletal strains, pelvic pain and digestive dysfunctions seem to improve with regulation of the nervous system I am excited to assist my clients detoxify after chemotherapy and children with chronic bowel and bladder dysfunctions associated with stress , poor eating and poor elimination habits. I am excited to try to assist with yoga and my manual therapies.
Q. What types of services does Belly Guru offer?
A.Belly Guru LLC produces and consults on lifestyle wellness, pediatric health and a broad medicinal application of yoga beyond orthopedic or neurologic rehabilitation. Belly Guru aims to meet everyone at their yoga level, one-on-one. We offer both private and small group yoga classes at a variety of levels. There is a work exchange program as well and public classes. The Belly Guru Yoga Training center in Pineville was actually developed to work with outside healthcare providers as well as independent providers to offer collaborative energy work, integrative physical therapy, massage therapy and other related manual therapies such as visceral manipulation therapy. My OmLife division will soon bring some of my manual specialty training and energy work into healing packages. It teaches deeper spiritual practices for individuals who do not want to be teachers but who can use the exercises, nutrition, additional therapies and directed coaching of the discipline in their life.
Q. Do you offer classes for children?
A. Children's group programming is offered under the Kid Guru curriculum usually in the spring as an eight-week series and a summer camp for grade school children. We have a monthly Girls Night Out program for ages eight and half to 11 and of course our baby gurus begin while in their mama's bellies and private mommy and me sessions are common while mom rehabilitates. All of our pediatric programming follows a developmentally appropriate outline and encourages moral and physical development practices of classical yoga.
Q. What are the benefits for children and yoga?
A. Yoga fits all bodies, economics and minds. Practicing yoga is really about honoring your self as divine, being more mindful, disciplined and remaining in the heart of a child with the wisdom of an old soul. With stress being the most recognized contributor to all top three disease killers( cancer,obesity and cardiovascular disease in this country )we better start young.
Q. Do your children practice yoga?
A. Yes as young children both were exposed in the ideals and physical practices of yoga. I still get the request to perform relaxation at the end of a hard day to lull them to sleep but as is often the case, anything mommy forces will not be seen as the popular thing to do so I leave it to them to find the practice. I see the yoga off the mat more often then I see them on it. That said, my son is actually quite an accomplished yogi and I am sure he is an old soul. My daughter on the other hand is a 13 year old girl and nothing I do is cool.
Q. What do you specialize in?
A. I have never liked to specialize but my love is women's health. I am especially intrigued by our emotional and physical pain connections and I am attached to the postpartum recovery year. It is our most neglected time and I am working to change that. In fact I will be completing my clinical doctorate in physical therapy next spring and plan on doing my final project related to this.
Q. How many classes do you teach?
A. Private classes and treatment sessions are kept to a maximum of four a day. Depending upon my private case load, I try to offer at least five group options a week per session. The center will hopefully have at least two daily group options five to six days a week.
Q. How do you fit family time in with running a company along with teaching and practicing yoga?
A. It is very hard and I make sacrifices in all areas at times but I try to delegate some duties to others and for myself I make yoga a part of my day at times off the mat . I prioritize me time and get to my trainings with my teachers on a quarterly basis. Scheduling with an active family is always an issue so my husband and I tag team often and I try to complete administrative work while the kids are in school or close off my schedule to volunteer or catch a game. As a family we just do not make attaining huge financial rewards a big part of life so when we stopped doing that it seemed like priorities were simple and fitting in the life we wanted became more clear.
For evening hours I luckily have a very supportive husband and we work near where we live so somehow one of us gets dinner in the crock pot and everyone tucked in at night. I have also kept the company a bit smaller for these needs. Every few months we try to go away as a family to reconnect with no phone, limited online exposure and that helps a lot. I began the company to give me more time with the kids and family. As crazy as my life sounds, with the flexibility and personal satisfaction my own business brings, I feel I actually have accomplished that.
Q. Anything exciting happening in 2013?
A. I have begun to incorporate nutritional counsel and more targeted coaching into my healing programs and will be officially launching a holistic lifestyle division of Belly Guru LLc called OMLife Lifestyle & Healing soon to accommodate individuals, families and corporate groups who want a step by step transformation.
The training center is located at 219 main Street, Suite A in Pineville NC 28134. 704.780.4586 The website for the center is www.bellyguru.com for classes and session scheduling needs or Lisas personal lifestyle services can be seen at www.omhealing.net