Larissa Parson (she/her) is a joy coach. She helps her clients move toward radical self-love, body liberation, and joy, so they can thrive. She does this through group coaching, 1-1 support, and embodiment/movement classes. Larissa’s intersectional identities include Black, biracial, queer, chronically ill, and mom to twins. She lives just outside Durham, NC, on the traditional lands of the Eno, Tutelo, Saponi, Occaneechi, Shakori, and the Tuscarora people.
Q: HI Larissa! Thanks for taking the time to chat with us. We understand that you’re a movement teacher. What does that involve and how does your work relate to chronic pain?
A: My work as a movement teacher centers primarily around helping my clients find a felt sense of safety in their bodies. I’ve specialized for a while in core & pelvic floor dysfunction, but those aspects of the body are connected to every other part of the body, so I take a whole body, whole person approach to my movement teaching. I see my work as less being a mechanic who helps people fix their bodies, and more as being an encourager of curiosity, play, and joy, even while exploring movements that might alleviate some of the discomfort that brings them to me in the first place. A large number of my clients either have chronic pain as part of their history or have other chronic conditions that benefit from exploration-based movement practices (as opposed to prescriptive practices that don’t allow for daily fluctuations in energy, etc.).
Q: That work sounds so cool, and I can feel your positivity from here. Speaking of positivity, are there any challenges to helping people in pain that stand out to you? And why are you optimistic about conquering those challenges?
A: So much of working with folks in pain is helping them move toward a mindset that embraces the possibility of change. Part of my work is illuminating how systems of oppression are often responsible for the messages that we internalize; in other words, I help my clients disentangle the sensations in their bodies from, e.g., diet culture’s expectation of what a body is “supposed” to look like. For many of my clients, there is a history of being told their bodies are unworthy due to size, ability, race, gender, etc.
It’s quite challenging to push back against the cultural message that something is wrong with you if you don’t fit the paradigm. Nevertheless, using tools like somatic tracking helps my clients recognize when a sensation arises from a thought or a feeling, vs. cultural pressure, vs. a pathology. So I hold out hope that guiding folks to move their bodies with love, not punishment, leads us to collectively heal from more than just knee pain or a weak core. Learning to be in your body without judging it, without judging the feelings that pass through it, leads to a world where all bodies are deemed worthy.
Q: As a body-based practitioner, do you think the brain/nervous system plays an important role in movement optimization and pain recovery?
A; Absolutely! So much of how well we move is all about the way we think about moving. I’ve experienced firsthand the benefits of working with the nervous system for pain recovery. I how this lens on the body leads to endless ways to be curious ad delighted.
Q: When you are not working on helping people tone down their pain, what do you do for fun?
A: Right now, I am mostly playing Animal Crossing New Horizons for fun. I’m also a big fan of food, books, swimming, and watching Ted Lasso.