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From Probation Officer to Womb Alchemy, Louise Pitman

Ever had your womb massaged? You might be tempted to after this episode with Louise Pitman.

Louise went to university at 35, despite having young children and a rocky marriage. She spent years as a probation officer before finding a new calling helping women through the various cycles of their life, using yoga, menopause support and... you guessed it... womb massage.

(Transcript from The Second Chapter podcast, Season 3 Episode 4, which aired 1st June 2021)

Kristin: This week, I'm talking with Louise Pitman. Prompted by events in her own life, Louise studied social work at 35, eventually becoming a probation officer. Nineteen years later, she's given up being an employee and works supporting women through female-specific yoga, womb massage and menopause support.

Louise: “And I just felt, ‘This is it. This is, that was me before.’ I definitely knew that probation was where I was meant to be at that time. And that's where my help was needed. Now I know that what I need to do is help heal women, help support women through the different stages of their lives.”

Kristin: Hi, Louise. Thanks for joining me today. How are you?

Louise: Hi, thank you for having me I'm well, thank you. I'm really well. It's an interesting week in the yoga world this week, because we've been allowed to actually go back out and start teaching people in real life. So that's been quite a treat despite the weather. It's been a real treat to get back out and be amongst people and be in the same space as them.

Kristin: I'm curious because I know my own getting back in the real world has been, has had its own unique set of challenges. I coach triathlon. So some of the in-person coaching things like some things I've gotten better at I think, and some things I've forgotten. It just feels strange. Getting back with real people in real space.

Louise: I had to get used to all of the things like the music today, coming through the sound system and having, to be careful and mindful about things like at the end of the class. I really love to take a nice big ohm, and generally I find that when I sound “ohm” at the end of the class, because I'm really feeding off other people's energy, it's so vibrational and resonant and.

I went to do a great big ohm the other day thinking, oh great. I'm back with people. And then I was like, oh no, hang on. I can't do an ohm because I can't, send my breath out like that. I have to wait until things have settled a bit before we start really sounding and breathing out to everyone.

So I had to get used to that. So I guess that's the main thing and just lights and things like that.

Kristin: It's funny. Cause we were talking before we started recording about yoga and breath and the kind of things that does, I would never have thought, oh, I have to go into my yoga class, but be careful not to breathe too much.

Louise: And it's yeah, no, it's all those beautiful breath practice that we can do together that we're having to just, hold back on a little bit now, but they'll come back. That was the benefit of Zoom that you could do all of the different breath practices you could sing, you could chant, but back in personal space, we're going to wait a little while longer for that to happen.

Kristin: I don't think anyone who's listening will be surprised to hear that you haven't always been a yoga teacher since that's what we tend to talk about here on The Second Chapter. I'd love to go back just maybe not to the very beginning, but I know you started early met your first husband, had kids quite young.

So tell me where your journey was from there.

Louise: Straight out of school, I didn't do any kind of further education. And when I left school at 16, I just left school and went and found a job. And I don't really remember having much perhaps guidance or, it wasn't necessarily suggested that going to college and university is something I should do. My elder brother did.

I don't know, if we're going to be making the gender distinction there, but I don't remember anyone suggesting to me that I should go into further education just to get a job. So I started work at 16. I had an admin type role and I'd already met my husband before I left. The man was to become my husband before I left school.

And then by the time I was 19, I'd been doing this job, just living quite a small life, actually became pregnant and then had my first daughter just as I turned 20. I had a second child quite soon after, and during this period I had given up my job just before I had my first child.

I suspect will resonate with lots of people. I just had jobs that fit in around looking after two small children, I did shelf stacking. I did some cleaning. I worked in a pub and then by the time my second daughter was about two, I think I found a really lovely receptionist job in a sports centre and stayed there for a long time cause it really fit it in around childcare and that kind of thing. When my youngest was four and a half I had my third daughter, so I've got three daughters or adults now. And yeah, I just continued to do my part-time job until my youngest daughter started school.

That's when I guess I started my first, what I would call my first career. My husband at the time was it wasn't a particularly useful person around the house. He didn't always have a job, but he didn't really help with childcare. And he didn't really do anything to help with the children. So it was quite a challenging time that I had three children to look after, but I felt like I had to go back out to work when the youngest started school because, we needed money in the family part.

We needed to pay the bills et cetera, et cetera. I took another administration role because that's something I knew, but I really wanted to explore more because of some things that had happened in my life, why people's lives went wrong in different ways? I guess the kind of main motivation for that was that my brother

I had two older brothers, so the brother that was closest in age to me, two and a half years older than me, he was that it was always a little bit of a mischief maker. Absolutely adorable, but he was the kids that would always be the fun kids that I bet you wouldn't do this.

And I dare you to do that. He would always go ahead and do it and at a very adventurous nature, but difficulty struck when this adventurous nature kind of got him in with the wrong crowd and he started to use drugs. And so by the time he was 16, he had developed quite a, across a drug misuse problem.

And by the time his 16th birthday came he was in borstal. Which is, it was a, what we'd call a young offenders Institute now was called in those days. And then my dad, I can see now, developed a bit of an alcohol problem because for him having a child, like this was really difficult, he probably didn't know how to cope.

My parents have been the most amazing parents as we were small children. We had a beautiful childhood, but then as we became teenagers, I think they struggled a little bit more with that transition. And when things started to go awry, I think my, my dad's way of coping was to start drinking.

Then I had my three children and my husband himself started to misuse drugs too, which was, a bit of a bit of a challenge, a bit of a shock because he knew, what had been going on in my family history. I got to the point where I just thought really what is wrong with men?

That's the way they manage life and get through life and cope with life is to abuse substances. And so this kind of desire to find out more or less curiosity to learn more so that I could help with this issue led me to start looking into social work, particularly working with people who offend and predominantly offends because of substance misuse.

Kristin: I speak with women on this show. So we talk a lot about things that maybe have happened because of men or men in our lives that challenged us as women, but I think at the same time, I'm always trying to say not to bash men because I think they go through their own, they've been asked to for so many years, not have emotions or not talk about issues.

So I think it's interesting that the seeing that men weren't handling things well in your own life led you to want to figure out why and, potentially work with men to try to make that not happen anymore.

Louise: Absolutely. And people that kind of know me and people that perhaps follow me on social media. I know that every now and then I mentioned, the patriarchy and how women are expected to behave in a certain way. And how things have been set up for women or not because they are more directed towards men, but yeah, this absolutely was not about being negative towards men.

This was my real desire to try and you know how to fix the problem. I guess that's there, my whole life I've really been a fix that and I've wanted to help support people and nurture people and find ways through with people to get to the root of what's going on. And I guess this is what led me into the beginning of my career.

As I said, I had left school with no, I had, my own levels in those days. But I'd not gone into further education. So to be able to explore education and this one more, I went to night school. And did a pre diploma in social work

Kristin: and how old are your girls? How

old were they at this point?

Louise: When I went to college, the oldest was nine. The next one was eight and the little one was four.

Kristin: So still quite young children and your husband at that time, wasn't really pulling his weight from what it sounds like.

Louise: no, certainly not. Well, it In fact, at that time that I went to the, I decided to go to college, it has come to a point, at which I really felt like I needed to take drastic action because my husband, in fact, at that time was in prison. He had committed some drugs offenses, and so ended up in prison himself.

And I was just like, what? What the hell has happened. I've come from, quite a normal family, a law-abiding family, apart from my little rascally brother, but my parents, they didn't live their life like that. And here I was a prisoner's wife, if you like, and just thought how did I get here?

And how can I change things? Cause I don't want this life for myself. I didn't want this life for my children. What am I going to do? And so I felt like I needed to learn more, find out more. And then that's when I went off and whilst he, so he was in custody at the time. So I was continuing to do all my kind of part time, bits and pieces looking after the kids having childcare so that I could go to college.

And then during that time that I was doing this pre-diploma, I was offered a volunteer position and the probation service, which kind of, when you think about it is quite ironic that here I was A mother with small children having to find my way because their father was in custody and I was volunteering for the probation services.

Yeah, it's a little bit ironic. But so I took up this opportunity. I was doing some voluntary work and then the the voluntary work continued, but I needed to get a job I needed to, by the time I finished the, to pay my hats to find work because I needed to support my family. So I went, like I said, that was the point of which I took this admin role.

And at 18 months later I saw a role advertised for an unqualified officer, a probation service officer they're called, and they predominantly do lower-risk work. They perhaps do court work. They do assessments for people that are going to come out of custody with a curfew and an electronic tag.

And so I applied for this job and got it. And that's the only point in the whole of this that I said to anyone that I worked with thereafter, my husband has been in prison and that shouldn't have been a black mark against my name because I hadn't happened to me. I didn't have a criminal record, but I needed, I felt I needed to make that disclosure got the job, nonetheless.

And so I never really spoke about it again. And I did this role for two years and then I had the opportunity to apply, to become a trainee probation officer. So I did that. I got through. And so I started a two year journey of working full time, going to university to do a degree and a NVQ at the same time to enable me to become a probation officer.

Kristin: I feel like I'm never going to say I'm too busy again. Oh, I'm always like, oh, I'm so busy. What am I doing? I'm doing nothing.

This is crazy.

Louise: Yeah. I sometimes look back and just think, how did I actually do that with three kids with no support. Apart from, my, my parents have always been a massive support helping me with children in the summer holidays and, babysitting, et cetera.

But no support from the person that should have been providing support to help look after his children. But at the time I was just so determined. I think I was just so determined to, to make a difference to rewrite the story of my life and my children's life, so that there would be hope and guidance- and help for my family for other people's families and to make a better life.

Kristin: And as a probation officer, is that something you, where you're actually counseling people who are coming out of the system to ensure it doesn't happen again? Pardon my ignorance, but yeah. I feel like I don't really know. I think of a probation officers just making sure someone doesn't, I don't know, leave their house if they're on house arrest or something, but I'm sure that, from what you're saying, it's a lot more.

Louise: Yeah. And it's a kind of interesting point you raised because I think I told you when we had some communication that I eventually left the probation service after like almost well, about 20 years later because the government decided that it would be a good idea to privatise the probation service and really no one kicked up a fuss about this because no one knows what the probation service do.

So I think you're not alone. I don't think you're alone in not knowing. If you can imagine any crime that anyone could commit, whatever that is, murder, rape, assault, burglary, whatever crime that someone commits a probation officer will assess them to try and determine the risk of not only their likelihood that they'll do it again, but to determine the ongoing risk of harm that they pose to another person or the community or society as a whole.

A probation officer will meet the individual, assess them, talk about their life, how this kind of journey happens.

And with all the information they're given, establish what the risk is of them committing a similar offence. Again, what the risk is of them harming someone and also what they need, what has to happen with this person? What is the problem? What is causing their offending? What is their motivation and write a report to the court to say, in some cases, this person is so risky that I don't think there's anything I can suggest.

I think they're going to have to go to prison for quite some time. In other cases, you might say this person, clearly, this offence take domestic abuse. This person has all the markers, the indications of domestic abuse and there's this program that they can go on there's intervention that we can deliver to help them think about manage and change their behaviour.

And so a probation officer would do that, too. They'd work with individuals in the community that don't get sent to prison, to provide whatever the rehabilitation is that's needed, but they also work with people that have gone to prison. So somebody goes to prison for murder, they'll need a sentence plan.

The role of the probation officer is to rehabilitate the past and people that they work with.

Kristin: You said that it was privatised and you tried it for a couple of years and just didn't feel safe at it anymore. Is it something that the rehabilitation part was gone and it just became... what happened after it was privatised?

Louise: Yes the mind I so I became qualified as a probation officer in 2003. I kind of variety of roles. I'd done different roles, working with different types of people that commit. I don't keep that. I use the word offender because it's descriptive and then somebody will know what I mean, but labelling somewhat offender is not very, pro-social or motivational is it, but I worked with lots of different offence types.

But then in 2010 I became a senior probation officer. So I had the responsibility to manage a team of probation staff that managed the. The people that they were responsible for. And then after a while I got a job slightly further up in, in the management. And by the time that the privatisation happens, where the very, the highest risk people stay, the responsibility of a national probation service for predominantly the most, the biggest group of people were hived off to private organisations and this became payment by results.

And if there was anything, more ridiculous to make payment by results, it's about people that are going to decide whether they stop offending or not. I can't make someone not commit another crime. I can help support them. I can help, in that rehabilitation, I can help guide them, but there's nothing really I can do to stop them.

So determining whether I get paid or not. Because this person's not going to do X, Y, Z is crazy, but you don't have that much control over that situation. People started leaving in droves- probation officers leaving left, right and centre. It was impossible. We were being asked to do things. I went into the private organisation and it was impossible. You still had your skillset as a probation officer, but you just didn't have the time.

There were far more people ended up in the private sector than the public sector. So we had many more people to supervise and manage. We had much more paperwork to do. And so it just became more and more difficult. And the job that I was in as the privatisation happened meant that I was the prime candidate to be the kind of contract holder, if you like.

So I had to have regular meetings with our contract manager from who'd been appointed to just say, yes, we're taking this box. Yes. Particular folks. Yes. We're taking this folks. And as more and more my stuff left and there were less and less people to do the work. And I was the one seemingly that had to impose these rules onto my organisation.

After about 18 months I just thought I can't do this. I just don't think that this is a safe container anymore. And so I need to leave.

Kristin: It's like you were set up to fail already, then everybody wanted to leave and then you weren't even getting to do the reason that you went into the role to begin with.

Louise: Absolutely. And that's the sad thing is that the people that weren't getting what they needed. Yes. The staff that, the service user was not getting the service that they required because we quite frankly didn't have the time or the staff to be able to deliver that.

Kristin: What led to you finally, just deciding if enough was enough and how did you choose what to do next?

Louise: Yeah. We all complain about work, right? Oh God, Monday morning, oh God, how long is it going to be before the weekends? Oh God, I really hate this part of my job, but it's just talk isn't there, it's just a kind of rite of passage of having a job where you have this little moon.

I started to be one of those people that were just felt like I couldn't moan out loud because I was the one person in the organisation that had to be like, come on, we can do this. And I just felt this sense of, I didn't believe in this anymore.

And I just thought if I got to that stage, I've got to leave, but I wasn't ready to hang my coat up completely on the criminal justice system. So I went to work for a criminal justice charity, which works exclusively with people that cause sexual harm. And so I spent the next four and a half years there working for this amazing organisation.

It's called Circles UK. And it provides circles of support and accountability for predominantly people coming out of prison that have committed sexual offences and needs. To be rehabilitated back into the community. And it works with a circle of volunteers around the person that caused the harm, which was referred to as the core member, it's just to help offer this guidance, support, and accountability to help them reestablish themselves into the community.

And I did that for four and a half years, but during that time also, I started to the, my yoga teacher training and I just became more and more wanting to just teach yoga. But also I came to feel that more and more, this kind of tension between I totally believe in the rehabilitation work , but I wanted to stop having that as the thing that was in my mind all the time, I had to stay on top of my game. I had to read research. I had to know what was current in the world of sexual harm. And I didn't want to, I wanted to know about, what happens to women when they go through menopause, what happens to a woman during her monthly cycle?

What, benefits will yoga have on the physical body and the spiritual body. So I guess it was that as more and more spiritualness, it was in opposition to being in this world of sexual harm. And so I knew that I had to then make that move to just be in a world that I could determine myself and.

Work for the good, because I, like I said, I completely believe in rehabilitation. I never won't believe in rehabilitation, but I feel that after 24 years in the criminal justice system, I'd done all I could to help people rehabilitate. Now I wanted to start working with the people that perhaps, something was going on in their lives that wasn't as a result of offending or addiction.

I, I wanted to work with people that were just out of touch with their theirselves, and can use yoga to help bring them back into themselves.

Kristin: So you started yoga at a time. That was pretty tough for you as well. And that was what I referred to with the breathing thing, but would you talk about how you even started and decided to become a yoga teacher to begin with?

Louise: So I to update you on my personal and family life. I, on my 40th birthday, ended my marriage . And it was almost like this kind of, every morning afterwards, I would just leap out feds like that Duracell bunny quickly test the bed next to me.

Like he's not there- amazing!- and jumped out of bed full of life, so full of joy that I decided after kind of the buildup to my 40th birthday, where everyone kept saying to me, oh, life begins at 40, Louise. I think It feels like my life's over my, I don't, it was a difficult marriage.

And then when it ended, I just have this new lease of life. So I decided that for the first year of being 40, I do a new thing every month. And one of the things that I did, although it took me a while to build up to this was walk the Inca trail in Peru. I mean, I'd never been able to do something like that before.

And so I wanted to use my new found freedom to do really liberating and amazing things. And so I took myself off to a yoga class because I thought, if I'm going to altitude, I want to really learn how to work with my breath. So off I went to yoga and continued to go all the time before I went to Peru really, getting used to how to breathe properly, how to breathe deeply, how to use your breath to enable movement.

And so off I went, I did the Inca trail. It was fine. I didn't get out to tooth thickness. And then when I came back, I still went to yoga every now and then, but not so often, not so regularly. And then in the intervening years, every now and then I'd be like, oh yeah, fancy yoga. And I go do some more yoga came and went and came and went.

And then my mom passed away just four years ago when she did, I had this like real fatigue. I guess it was grief.

I just felt like I couldn't do anything. I felt like I just wanted to sneak all the time that I didn't want to do anything. And then one day I was I made it out of bed and I was laying on the sofa and I spotted my yoga mat in the corner. I was like, I probably, I reckon I could do some yoga and I almost combat rolled off the safer, got my mat, laid it down.

And that first time I just really just laid on the floor, didn't really do anything. And then the next day I put yoga with Adriene on YouTube and did a class with her. And so that, I did that each day. I did it a bit longer and a bit more. And I, by this time, so my husband and I had remarried. Came back from a trip. And when he arrived, he left insistent on our beds because he was worried that I wouldn't move or feed myself while he was gone away on a work trip. And when I got back, I was just like, ah, you're back. Okay. I'm off to India. I'm going to be a yoga teacher. And I, and it was almost like it was magical. Look what yoga has done for me. It's made me feel like I get up and I can move and I can breathe. And I, I feel quite positive. So I just kinda thought, God, it's the one drug, isn't it like, if you can make you feel like that, if you, the can give you that enthusiasm, give you that kind of life, if you that motivation, why would you not want to be a yoga teacher?

So I didn't go off to India. I was being all big and brave about that . And my husband was just like, oh, lovely. Well done. Yeah. That'd be really lovely for you. And then a few weeks later I'd been thinking about it, thinking, how am I going to tell him that I'm not going to go to India?

Cause I don't think I could go to India for three weeks and master the art of teaching yoga. I need something more, for me, I learn in a particular way and I need something more suited. And so a few weeks later I'd done a bit of research and I found universal yoga in Bath and they did a year long course where you'd go once a month for a long weekend, Friday to Sunday, and really immerse yourself in it.

Then you'd go off and do your own learning and assignments. That's how I learned that's going to be for me.

Kristin: And now you do a lot, not just around yoga, but all the kinds of support that you were talking about. Support around menopause womb massage, which I'm really intrigued by. So now you're running your business, your career around yoga and all of these kinds of support systems for women, quite a different thing than what you were doing before.

Louise: As soon as they became a yoga teacher, I knew that I wanted to specialise if that's the right word in yoga for women, I know yoga is an ancient system designed by men for men. And it's very structured and linear and women. Aren't like, where my women can't do the same thing every day.

We have hormones that fluctuate. We have cycles, we live in rhythm then. So I just thought, I need to find a way that it's going to suit women times of the, how they feel on any different day. And so I started to explore first of all, more about women's yoga. So I've taken a couple of courses and.

Yoga for women one. I don't know if you know the book Yoni Shakti written by Uma Dinsmore-Tuli. I read that book even though it's 600 odd pages. I went, I trained with her. I went on a six day residential course of her, which was just mind blowing.

It was amazing. And just felt- This is it. This is, that was me before. I definitely knew that probation was where I was meant to be at that time. And that's where my help was needed. And that's where I needed to take my energy. Then now I know that what I need to do is help heal women, help support women through the different stages of their lives.

And I also knew that I was gonna want to give up work. My career. And I knew that I'd have to. Perhaps find something else to supplement being a yoga teacher. And so I had heard about womb massage. It’s a funny story, actually. As we're doing a podcast, I start one morning and I, before I did my yoga teacher training, I didn't really meditate, but I it's been, become a big part of my life and my practice now.

And I'd been thinking about going on this womb and fertility massage course, and I was humming and ahhing. Or was it just one of those things, the ways that you think you want to do, but actually, you, you haven't really thought long and hard enough about it. And so I thought I have I'll meditate on it.

And the my deity is Lakshmi and she is the goddess of abundance. And it's more to do with abundance of life. Not having lots of money, but having lots of health and happiness, that kind of well more kind of harvest abundance than, financial. And so I sat there with Lakshmi and I was saying to her, what do you think I should do this?

Womb massage. I just don't know. And we sat there a while and then I was going to go for a run. I put my running clothes on because I thought if I didn't put my running clothes on before I meditate, by the time I finished, I won't go for a run.

So I'm getting dressed first, so I was immediately ready to run. I picked up my phone and thought I'm going to listen to a podcast. I literally swiped clicked, run out the door. And it was the very woman whose course that I'd been thinking of going on was the person on the podcast.

Kristin: Oh, wow. So it wasn't like her podcast. It was just, she just happened to be

Louise: guest.

Yeah, she was the guest on this podcast and I just thought thanks, Lakshmi. That's your answer. I'm meant to be going on. So booked to go on this training. And it was just, it was amazing. It was everything I wanted it to be.

But it's just a, such a wonderful practice it's really, to help women just connect with themselves. Often as women, we don't, often I speak to women and I see some when's the last time you had a conversation with your womb and I won't know what you're talking about.

Kristin: My womb and I don't talk

Louise: Yeah. There's no open dialogue there, the times that we tend to it's like, why aren't you pregnant? Or why are you hurting me so much when you're bleeding or, in menopause? Why are you giving up on me now? And we don't ever, really put our hand on her and just go, oh, thank you for what you do for me.

You've brought life. You've brought, creativity. And I really feel that if we have that better kind of relationship, if we have that open dialogue, that our lives could be much more fruitful and easeful and abundant. But oh, say people do have problems. There's the massage can help with painful periods.

It can help with PMS type symptoms. It can help with the if people are deciding that they want to think about pregnancy the best time to start planning the six months before you want to become pregnant. And a wound massage would be a really supportive thing to have as your six month preparation to really.

Kind of, help things come back into place within your womb. It helps with digestion. So we do some work around the digestive system. We do some work into the diaphragm and often when people are anxious, they're worried about things. If you're worried about getting pregnant or not getting pregnant anxiety can make us breathe up here rather than down here.

And our diaphragm becomes so tight. So some of the massage is easing the diaphragm a more kind of spiritual aspect and an emotional aspect to it where lots of the stuff we hold as women can be due to difficult relationships with people, but particularly our mums, as amazing as our moms are, most of us have a mum story, don't we?

Kristin: Mom. I know you're probably listening. We have our own.

Louise: And we hold onto that connection down from our sternum and down into our belly button. Cause the belly button is what linked to our womb.

That's our first life force. So it's just and I'll tell you what, I love the maze because yes, I do talking about menopause and I do supporting women, see that it's a rite of passage, there's women, once we make up 51% of the population, there's 13 million women at the moment in menopause in UK.

And yet it doesn't get talked about, is seen as a thing that happens to women. It's know, even though the dialogue in the last few weeks particularly since the documentary that was on the TV has brought about a lot of conversation, too. There's so much that needs to change. And what needs to change most is perhaps the way women feel about this Rite of passage, because of the symptoms that come along with it, it can make it really feel like a bumpy ride, a rocky ride, something that we don't want, something that's just debilitating relevant than something that is vibrant and life-giving, and in traditional Chinese medicine, they call menopause a "second spring”.

How lovely is that?

Kristin: Oh, that’s… I love that.

Louise: yeah, you've come full circle. You come back to your second spring and it's they say that the body is so intelligent that when a woman becomes a certain age, the body knows to shut down the reproductive system because it's the only system of the body that we can really live without.

And so it's to give us longevity it's to give us more vibrancy and prolonged life that we shut down the system that we don't really need to use anymore. For me, the massage is also amazing for that. It can really help ease the way a woman feels about it. I give a massage to women that have had hysterectomies and you might say how are they having a women massage when they don't have a woman anymore? But the essence is still that, the kind of essence of your feminine men as he resides within that space.

And often when I'm doing this work and teaching womb yoga, particularly I talk about wound space because it is. Yes. It's the space where the wound can go, but the wound doesn't necessarily have to be there to still have that innate feminine wisdom within and tuning that back in, helping a woman see that and feel that, and, believe that after a hysterectomy through this massage is just awesome.

Kristin: I was so curious to talk about it with you. Cause I just thought, okay. Womb massage. Is it literally what it sounds like, but also just the idea, as you're saying all this about, connection and everything, it's an area that even on my own body, I don't touch, that area of my body very often, but certainly it's just not an area that gets a lot of physical connection.

So even just the thought of somebody concentrating on an area of your body that maybe doesn't get a lot of love or like you said, when you do communicate with it, it's how dare you? Why aren't you, you hurt me kind of thing.

It's a beautiful thought.

Louise: Yeah. And it can be so beautiful. We're not familiar with people touching our tummies, are we? When we have, when we think about massage, we think about shoulders back neck legs may be, so the massage starts off on the woman's back and from the bra strapped down to the top of the kind of buttocks and there's quite a few energy points that can be used there. But also around the sacrum and the pelvis the wounds fed by nerves going in through or on the sacrum.

So getting into all those little kinds of, if you feel that bony triangle you'll feel a little dimples in it, just applying some pressure into there and people are familiar with having their back touched. So it's a real nice, gentle introduction to the process we use rebozos, which are Mexican shawls.

I don't know if you've ever heard of closing up the bone ceremony, which sometimes happens postpartum when women have had a baby and they have, there's so many where they're completely wrapped to close the bones and bring the woman back into herself. The massage uses these rebozos to have this almost like hammock type rock whilst you're laying on the beds. And then you'll turn over and you'll have this kind of rock with your, with another rebates around your head and neck. And then your head and neck is wrapped in the and then some work will start. Like I said, on the diaphragm, on the digestive system and finishes around the wave.

We don't go straight. It's a whole combination to get there and it might just be energy where, it might just be a hand over the womb. And then at the end, you're wrapped in the rebozo around the middle with your hands, gently loving you're resting on your own womb.

And then there's some kind of swinging at the feet and then the feet are wrapped and so at the end of the massage, you're laying completely cocoons in these Mexican shawls and just some. Something will happen. It's just, it's lovely.

And yeah, I think every woman should experience that. I really do.

Kristin: I liked that you said experience it as well. Cause it sounds like a full experience. It's not just something like I'm going to get a massage today or, I'm going for a yoga class. It sounds definitely like a full experience. I, did want to go back briefly to what you said about menopause as well, because I think fortunately we are starting to see people talk about it more. You mentioned the documentary that was on a couple of weeks ago that got a lot of people talking about menopause, but I know.

In my own experience, even as I'm getting toward that age. And I'm seeing more about it because it's a subject of interest I've had lots of people talking about the documentary saying, to, to younger people, this might be of interest someday , I feel like it's something that hopefully we get to the point that it's just part of the conversation.

When we talk about, a woman's reproductive cycle, when we learn about, our cycles, our periods, those kinds of things, it doesn't become something like, oh, you learn in school that you can get pregnant because you started a period. And you never talk about the fact that eventually that goes away or that you just have changes as a woman.

Louise: I think that there's a big of movement of women really becoming in touch with their cycle menstrual cycle awareness and learning about the ebbs and flows of the cycle and how you can optimise it. There's so many books about this wild power. By Aleksandra Pope there's The Woman Code, Miranda Gray has The Optimised Woman.

And these are all suggestive of ways that you should work with your cycle, not against it, don't plan some massive events, major life event, or even a, a business meeting at work when you are on your bleeds, give your body time to rest, to let yourself have a few days of just mindful relaxation, let your body come into this safe space of surrender.

I like to liken it to the moon. So for me, that real kind of bleed time is the new moon. When it's dark, stay inside the means, hiding its face, that the time for you to withdraw within and then as the moon starts to wane and starts to show its face.

That's you coming out of your moon cave oh, hello, I'm starting to feel a little bit of energy here, but by the time it comes to up full moon. That vibrancy, it's almost like here I am, I'm out ready to ovulate and I'm all very outward focused. And then as the kind of moon then starts to, it starts a wax after after the dark moon and then it starts to weigh enough to the full moon in that waning point, it's that kind of premenstrual time where a lot of women can experience these real symptoms of PMs, which are very much like perimenopausal symptoms. And if the more that we can tune in and the more that we can adapt to our lifestyle and even our yoga, you know, I do a four week course yoga for menstrual cycle awareness.

And I take women through the four stages of the cycle and adapt the yoga practice to see, because we don't want to be doing a fast, glowing dynamic Vinyasa when we're on our periods. Like, why would we want to rest. We want to have a lovely restorative just laying of cushions. And boasters at that time, yes.

When we're ovulating, we might want to do something a bit more fast and vibrant because that's how we're feeling and like a lovely embodied kind of shifting of energy when we're. In our luteal phase . And so taking this into menopause, the more that we're in touch with our cycle, the kinds of more ready we are to face and kind of experience menopause, it really does set you up.

And that's there's a lot of talk about a woman from the age of 35 should start preparing for menopause. That's menstrual cycle awareness. And the more you become in tune with your cycle, the, you won't be surprised then, things that happen in your body, hormonal changes you'll be so tuned into before manual changes.

That you'll be more inclined to think, oh, hang on. Yeah, I can take a little shift here. I could do this. Maybe I, when this happens, I could do that rather than not having any kind of recognition of what goes on in your body at all. And then all of a sudden. Bam. Why is my period late?

Like, why is my cycle really long? Why am I feeling hot? It's freezing cold outside. I just went off on a tangent then, but for me, and for me in menopause, like I, I just embraced mine and I did see it as a Rite of passage because it is, we're all going to go through. It. It's a time of in days gone past the post-menopausal woman was revered. She was the, the wise woman of the village , the woman that kept her blood within this blood was said to, give new great wisdom and great vision and great insights.

And. That's for me that isn't that wonderful. I could live another half my life. I'm 54. I could live like what, hopefully another 40 odd years I've got so much further to go the way, why would I see this as an ending? Why would I see it as my life is over? Why would I see it as something negative?

And so I've had this real, this has been a, I think it's because of my previous life, you know what I've said about how I journeyed into this.

I maybe that's always been in the back of my mind that I'm an imposter. But menopause has just given me such a kind of, this isn't something I'm going to, I know about, this is. This is an awakening. This is a time of great transition and I feel it. I am in, I experienced that and I just want to, I just want to share it also to let women know that it's not the end.

It's just the beginning.

Kristin: It's just like he said, with yoga, being something that was created for men by men. And now as women we've embraced it, but the idea that we live in this world that. We're living in these kind of male dominated, cycles, but the more we can own what's happening with our bodies, whether it is just our monthly cycles and how we flux with that, or, ultimately, like you said, it's only about halfway through our lives that we have this second spring of wanting to call it and yeah, owning it.

If there's anything, we have the ability and the right to know about it's our own bodies. So I can be an imposter or feel like an imposter about a lot of different things, but I don't want to feel an imposter about my own body.

Louise: I think that's, I think you've just perfectly described it . If there's one thing that you should have the authority about, and this is why it's so sad that on, on that documentary. And I see also on Instagram women saying, my doctor won't listen to me.

My doctor won't let me have HRT. If anyone knows what's going on in your body, it's you write like this? And I say this all the time in yoga, I can't tell you exactly how to stand. I can't tell you exactly where you are. Your, your hands should be is it's your feel feel into your body. And if what I'm saying is always an invitation, if it doesn't feel like it suits your body, don't do it.

Just find your way, listen to that innate wisdom inside and find your way, feel your way. Because you are your own, you're your own best inner teacher.

Kristin: Absolutely. So on that note, I always ask for my guests to bring a quote, have you brought a quote for me today?

Louise: I have it say it's a quote by Nelson Mandela. And he said, “It always seems impossible until it is done”. And I just love that because sometimes we're faced with these fears.

I'll no, I can't do that. It seems so big yet. Once it's done, like you said to me, how did I manage to have three small children, have a full-time job, go to university and do a degree. And at the same time do an NPQ it did seem impossible, but then it was done. And I got that qualification.

So I just think that's one, that's a steadfast quote for me.

Kristin: And somebody said the other week that The problem seems so big when you're in them. But yes, then you move on to the next, , the next big obstacle and the other one seems so much smaller or they're done.

And you also mentioned your four week yoga for women course that you have starting the 8th of June. I will put a link for that in the show notes. So everybody look out for that. Other than that, I just want to say, thank you. Thank you for not just speaking with me today, but for doing this really important work to help women understand their bodies a little bit better.

Louise: Thank you. Thanks for having me. It's been a real treat to talk to you and share this information.

For more information on Louise's four-week yoga course for women or any of the things we talk about on the show, you can find her at:

Louise Pitman Yoga & Womb Alchemy

Follow Louise on Facebook @ Louise Pitman Yoga or Instagram @womb_alchemy


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