Are you sitting wrong? The modern digital era has wrecked our posture. One could say the trickledown effect of inactivity and misalignment creates the trajectory of disease. Joining Dr. Lauren Lattanza on the show today is movement coach Aaron Alexander. Aaron is the founder and creator of the Align Method, author of The Align Method book, and host of the Align Podcast. He believes there is a direct correlation between our physical health and psychological well-being. In this episode, discover what the Align Method is all about and how you can use movement-based principles to build strength, achieve peak performance, reduce pain, and live optimally.
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Movement-Based Principles To Help Align Body And Mind With Aaron Alexander
We’ve got an amazing guest for you. We have Aaron Alexander. Aaron is a pioneering Manual Therapist and Movement Coach, Founder and Creator of The Align Method, Author of The Align Method book, and Host of the amazing The Align Podcast. He has worked with some of the world’s greatest professional athletes, performers, celebrities, and everyone in between to relieve pain while creating greater strength, flexibility, and ease in their minds and bodies.
After working with thousands of clients and spending years backpacking around the world, being immersed in various cultures, he concluded that the healthiest people are not gym rats. Instead, they naturally integrate the foundational principles aligned in The Align Method to strengthen their bodies, balance their minds and activate their innate systems of healing in daily life.
Aaron has simplified ancient techniques for cultivating vitality and assimilated them into modernized, simplified, and movement-based principles to easily integrate into any situation throughout your day. When you do, every movement becomes an opportunity to develop greater strength, flexibility, and confidence, to truly step into your physical potential and drop the baggage of pain and limitation. Welcome to the show, Aaron. Thank you so much for being here. How are you?
Dr. Lauren, reading the description of the website, all my sphincters were deeply clenched for the entirety of that experience.
That’s a pretty intriguing bio. We’re very lucky to have you here. It’s all the things you do with the manual therapies and everything you integrate and bring back home to everybody feeling better. I wanted to hone in the mind-body relationship. We hear a lot about this. What does it mean to have a well-developed connection between your mind and body?
I don’t have an answer. It was interesting as you were discussing the mantras of who you are in the show and what you represent. Talking about the organs inside the body, you didn’t say exactly that, but it’s something like the organs inside. That’s an interesting idea that the organs are inside. It begs questions like, “Where is inside and outside?”
The skin is an organ. From an embryological perspective, the skin is derived from the same dermal layer as the brain’s neurological tissue, the ectoderm. The idea of my brain existing in a vacuum and my eye existing between my ears, all of that is a story. You’re saying, “Maybe there’s a gut-brain relationship.” It seems like everyone agrees that your guts, the gut-brain, millions of neurons lie throughout. You have a gut feeling. It’s like, “There’s something to that.” I’m thinking with my viscera.
I said, “Culture decides there’s a gut-brain connection.” There’s also this skin-brain connection. All this information is coming back from the way that you’re receiving feedback or your feet against the ground, the temperature of the air if there is a breeze, your olfactory and auditory systems. It’s like empathy. You walk into a room and notice a vibe.
If that word’s too much out there for some people, that is completely fine. I respect people that have resistance to words like that. That’s completely great. I have a lot of that in own myself. Where that becomes very apparent, say, you walk down an alleyway. You get the indication that there’s a chance there’s a threat here. That’s a vibe, “There’s something about this. I don’t know what it was, but I walked into this room.”
The way my sphincters were all clenched up as you’re reading my bio, I have a similar sensation. Suddenly, I’m feeling blood pulling out of my viscera into my appendages, getting ready to fight or flight. I’m starting to feel my heart rate going up and feel my breathing patterns coming up into my clavicular territory, chest, upper lobes, and lungs. It’s like, “Interesting.” I walked into a room, and suddenly, my whole entire physiology matched the container existing there.
It’s like, ” It’s the gut-brain connection, skin-brain connection.” Is there a room-brain connection? Is there a person-to-person connection? When I’m with someone, I am attuned to their facial gestures. I think this is accurate that girls tend to menstruate together. Based on who is the perceived alphas, you can have competitions with your girlfriends, like “Got you. You’re in my schedule” I don’t think I answered anything, but I did a little bit.
It’s a good way to look at holistic medicine. That’s why I always say as people come into my office and we’ll talk about how they’ve got high blood pressure, atrial fibrillation, and they’re a cardiac patient, but we know that it’s so much more. You’re not just a cardiac patient. You’re a whole person. We got to take into account the entire person. That’s why we say holistic. You’re a whole person. It’s the heart connection and the gut-brain connection. We know that all healing starts in the gut. We got to look at all avenues. In a roundabout way, you answered my question.
That is a story, an idea, and a potential tunnel to have the concept that all healing begins in the gut, which I don’t disagree with, but it is an interesting thing to pick apart. You could also say all healing perhaps could begin with the choice to start taking care of your gut. If you don’t have the motivation to start investing in getting some fecal test, what are the bugs in my gut in the first place? Paying money to seek out a naturopathic doctor, investing in organic groceries, or understanding prebiotic fiber, all the different things that could support my gut biome, there’s a motivation piece in there.
By starting to give yourself the raw components for your body to function well, that feeds back into the motivation. Where does it start? You were talking before about philosophy and psychology. Most of these questions, if you go into them enough, it becomes like this circuitous conversation where it’s head-scratching.
Maybe it doesn’t matter where it starts. All that matters is that we start to begin paying attention. That process of beginning to pay attention starts to open the doors up. That’s the big thing about modernity. A massive part of the sickness and the disease that we’re experiencing is at least happening congruently with our attention being pulled away from things that matter.
Most of our attention is driven towards notifications on our cellphone or backed-up emails or advertisements. We’re exposed to millions of advertisements by the time we’re 25 or 30. There are a lot of advertisements all the time. Our attention is a commodity. It’s being pulled out. That is an interesting conversation like, “Where is my attention?”
“Where do you pay your attention?” That’s a great figure of speech. You’re paying your attention and investing in it. If you divert your mind somewhere else, get your mind right, start there and read more good habits, you get into this snowball effect of healing in a healthful lifestyle and snowballing. Maybe the people around me and turning on the news in the morning is a little bit toxic. Making one decision, like my mom always said, “Life is a series of choices.” You make one choice, and then you’re like, “That was a good one. I feel better because of that one.” You are more likely to make another beneficial choice.
To know that people or foods are toxic takes self-awareness. This is going to get ridiculous. I’ll come back to measurable, quantifiable facts and information. The perception that the world outside of you is toxic has a good chance that it is a projection. In fact, you are experiencing your own toxicity and projecting it onto other people. There is possibility and availability to see the love, light, God, and all the things in every being.
Modernity is a massive part of the sickness and the disease that we’re experiencing because our attention is being pulled away from things that matter.
It’s rare when there’s an absolute statement like, “Your friends are toxic.” You created your friends essentially. There is the availability for you to feel resourced and stable enough in yourself that it doesn’t matter the people you’re exposed to or if you walk through a mall or listen to a certain type of music. You’re so well-oriented and resourced enough not to get knocked off course. Back to facts.
That’s a great segue for my next question. Are there ways to test your mind-body connection or relationship?
Some people have blank spots throughout their bodies. If you think about it now, start to go through and have a visual exploration of what it feels like to have a spine. If you were drawing a picture of your spine, back, shoulder blades, lower back, lower ribs, sacrum, who the heck knows what the shape of a pelvis is. We’re so detached, and you don’t even need to know per se. It’s going through and starting to observe like, “How does my back feel right now? Does it feel light? Does it feel dense? Does it feel painful? ”
That’s the beginning of having that conversation. It’s drawing out the awareness. It’s like, “How am I?” If you are sitting on the ground or chair, a helpful suggestion is to avoid the sensation of it being, “I feel like collapsed in pain.” We would be making sure that your hips are up above the height of your knees. Bringing your hips up above the height of your knees is going to stabilize your pelvis and your lower back, the bottom vertebra, L5-S1 in particular.
They’re more than the shape of a wedge, with the wide end of the wedge facing towards our abdomens and facing forward. This is a very important postural hack. It’s not a hack. It’s engineering mechanics or physics. By operating from that position with regularity, it’s going to set your spine up for stability and support. Get your hips up above the height of your knees and get yourself on a cushion. If you’re on a chair, raise the chair up. If you are in a chair for a while, get yourself some compression socks, go for walks regularly and get the heck out of the chair.
While you’re in that position, start to notice the pressure of your feet. If you’re on the ground, notice the pressure if your calves or shins are against the ground. I have this in my book, The Align Method. I have an exercise for people where you go through. You describe the qualitative experience, “What are the adjectives or the qualities of each of your major joints?”
It’s going through and saying like, “How would I describe my ankles?” Do they feel smooth, fluid, fast, dense, rigid, or stuck? You’re going up and doing the same thing with your knees. Do they feel clunky, expansive, or spacious? Do the same thing with your hips. If you’re sensitive enough with yourself, you could do the same thing with your pelvic floor. It’s the same thing with your diaphragm.
It’s the awareness of what’s happening in your body is. You’d say that with your shoulders, spine, wrists, elbows, neck and going through and having a little audit of, “What is this physical experience for me?” From there, a next-level could be like, “What would be my ideal descriptors of myself and my body? How would I want to feel?”
I highly recommend people do this if you have the availability to try something new because I know too many people have done that. Write out those descriptors, have that list, and see how closely that list pertains or relates to how you feel as a whole, your personality and who you show up in relationships, business, and life. How do you wake up in the morning? What you’ll find very consistently is it describes you. It’s an interesting thing.
Nobody wants to be crunchy and clunky if you can be smooth and eloquent. Those are all better adjectives to strive for in your day-to-day life. You are taking an inventory of your body and better understanding and awareness of where you are versus where you’d like to be. You don’t have to be a kinesiology major to understand. You don’t need to know all the names of the joints, but to understand we’ve all got these components and how they work for you or against you. In meditation, sometimes, from the top-down, you’re taking in the awareness of all of your body and your posture.
There are a lot of different types of meditation. I’m not a meditation expert by any means, but I meditate regularly. I’ve done a Vipassana, where you sit and pretty much meditate for ten days. You get up at 4:30 in the morning and do these hour-long stets. You take a break and walk around the rock path for a while. You come back and do another hour-long sit. You pretty much do that in succession for ten days. I’m not boasting about that.
It makes you realize how weak you are or how weak I am. In that timeframe, it’s more available to explore like, “What is this meditation thing? What does meditation provide?” There’s a lot of confusion around what meditation is. A way that we can make it more simplified is almost gamifying meditation. The way I described, especially if I’m talking to men who want to compete, has games and things of this sort. A very typical style of meditation would be following your breath. It’s a fancy term. That sounds ancient. We call that Anapanasati. It means paying attention to your breath.
During that time, what you’re doing is you’re allowing your mind to be distracted like it is all the time. Your mind, wherever your mind exists, depending upon what culture you’re from, would determine where your mind is. Your mind is a thought juicing machine. It keeps on calming and rolling out, which is great and fine. The quandary comes when you buy the belief that those thoughts coming out are the entirety of who you are.
Those thoughts consume your identity as opposed to these thoughts could be stuff that I’ve subliminally picked up when I went to the mall or hang out with this person, place, thing, or anything, or the news cycle that’s going on the background. Now it’s like, “It’s coming through me, but I’m not the news cycle.” The practice of meditation can be this ongoing process of observing those thoughts, saying, “It’s interesting. There’s another thought. I love that.”
It’s saying, “I’m going to come back to noticing my breath.” That’s it. It can have the potential to become a masculine brawl competition thing of like, “I’m going nine seconds. Here we go. In nine seconds, we’re going to notice the breath. Here it is.” Even if they’ve had the potential to win $1 million or whatever, it would not be possible for them to go maybe 10 seconds, but 20 seconds, 30 seconds without having their mind entirely honed in on one thing.
It’s amazing and unbelievable in a way. I fall into that category. It’s not easy for me, but when you start to perceive it in that way, it can be an interesting game. I find that an easier thing to do for 10 or 20 minutes. What happens is you start off with the game modification, eventually with time, typically after 10 and 12, depending on where your mindset is, you’ll go through different layers. You chunk down. Suddenly, your mind starts to come out of that prefrontal and analytical space.
It starts to go into these deeper parts of neurology in your body and experience. It’s an interesting thing. What that does do in relation to having a semblance of an answer to what you asked is it makes you less reactionary. There’s endless research to suggest that the practice of meditation whether it changes the structure and function of your brain. It reduces the gray matter in the amygdala. It increases the gray matter around the hippocampus, helps with memory, optimism, and generally experiencing this sensation of joy, like life’s going to be okay because I’m not drowning in somebody else’s thoughts. We come back to like, “What’s this mind-body relationship?”
If I’m afraid or in some reactionary fight-flight, freeze-type state based on the way that I feel or think about what is happening, that causes me to have a neurochemical, hormonal, and musculoskeletal response, change my breathing, or visual patterns, and I become my thoughts. If you’re at the whim of those thoughts and start to produce yourself based on those guys, you’re like dust in the wind of a modern, statistically sick culture. It’s crazy when you can think of it.
You can completely change your blood pressure after six deep breaths.
We don’t have to become our thoughts, but we can be less reactive and say, “That was something that came ago.” I’m going to swat it away and come back down to it. You can have things cross your mind, and you’re like, “That’s not me. That’s not who I am.” In church on Sunday, our pastor said, “I saw this cat, and my first instinct was I’m going to kick that cat. No, I’m not going to kick the cat,” but you don’t have to kick that cat.
I have that thought all the time. Small children will always like, “I wonder how far if I were to have a nice strong football.” I watched a comedy sketch. I don’t know who it was, but that was his joke. It’s like, “How far can I kick this out?” You laugh because you’re like, “That’s terrible,” but I’m laughing. The next time I see a small child, the question is posed in my mind. I’m like, “Is that my mind? Is this my thoughts?” That’s the comedy show that I saw.
That’s not me. I’m going to pass that one along.
Do you think about that when you’re driving near a bridge? Do you ever have a thought like, “I can drive off this thing now?” It’s interesting. We are so incredibly fragile yet robust at the same time. It blows my mind driving on the highways. We’re in these murder machines, driving 80 miles one way and 80 miles per hour the other way, which compounded that together. I don’t know what that translates to, but a lot of energy smashing inches away from each other. This is normal all the time. We’re marginally close, centimeters away from our own demise multiple times throughout the day.
It’s completely normal. We have patients that walk in with high blood pressure. I’m like, “How far did you drive? How fast were you driving on the way here? I’ll wait till the end of this appointment to take your blood pressure because you showed up here in your murder machine.” That was a mundane task.
I wonder about your thoughts on this. There are tons of research around this as well. There are particularly some studies done in some universities in Japan. I got this from Aubrey Marcus in his book, Own the Day. He references a lot. What he suggested was that after six intentional deep breaths, you can completely change your blood pressure. Six breaths were the minimum viable dose, which is such an interesting thing. There was a guy that I was talking to who approached me. I could tell he didn’t get a lot of sun. You can tell he’s stressed and anxious.
You could tell his sleep wasn’t ideal. He showed me this picture of his hands and knows I’m into palpable stuff. I said, “I have a book about health stuff. Maybe I can help.” His hands were getting almost blue. He was cutting circulation off from himself to his appendages. He would go through these minor panic attacks. My suggestion to him was to start to regulate his breath, “Are you breathing through your nose?” The answer is no because he’s congested. His nose got some deviated septum stuff.
I’m like, “Your breathing pattern from the drop, and you’re sending the indication to the rest of your physiology that you’re in fifth gear. There’s nothing wrong with fifth gear or sympathetic response. If it’s all the time, we need to sort that out because you’re sending the signal to the entirety of your biology that you’re under attack. It’s such a beautiful thing to have access to that gear. You want to know how to be under attack, respond, move, run, fight, or hide.” That was the interesting thing.
I gave him a couple of exercises on how to start to clear his nasal passages. We did a couple of things where we emphasized the exhalation. As you’re exhaling, you’re going to be activating more than the calming side of the nervous system. The other suggestion was activating the mammalian dive reflex, which is getting some cold water and dropping your face into cold water. You can put your hands and feet in the cold water.
All that sends the signal to your physiology to start to put yourself into that parasympathetic, calm side of the nervous system. You’re able to hold your breath longer when you’re exposed to the water as well, which is interesting. It calms down. He did that and came back to me. I saw him again, and he said he was going through this thing, having a panic attack, and he did that. He brought his breath into his nose. Besides the exhalation, he got a little cold thing and put his head and hands in the water. It completely changed the whole scene. I’m like, “That is so cool.”
We’ve got patients that are going to AFib episodes. It’s like, “Use these vagal maneuvers to tonify that parasympathetic response, take back the driver’s seat, slow the breathing, put the blood back to the periphery, all of these things that will switch the script.” We’re not being chased by a bear in modern times. We can shift what’s going on in our environment and our mind and take back that mind-body connection of deep breathing, slow the heart rate, get the blood vessels back dilated, drop the blood pressure, all these things that we can take control of.
The irony is that if you are being chased by a bear, you don’t even need any of this conversation because you’re the healthiest person in the room.
You’re probably living off the grid somewhere, and you’re better off.
The process of being chased by the bear is that you’re in perfect symphony with your autonomic nervous system. When you have some sympathetic response, your body’s queuing you up to run. When you’re plugged into your laptop, you’re wigging out about something or your cell phone, girlfriend thing, boyfriend thing, work thing, money thing, I’m not good enough thing comparison, all of the different plethoras of possibilities, I’ll be loved once I get that car that I can’t afford or whatever’s happening for you. Your body’s saying, “Here’s all the norepinephrine and the cortisols. We’re going to move the blood around for you. Let’s go.”
You sit there and curl in. That’s intensely stressful. If you have a real bear or have access to the awareness that you can move through stress and say, “I’m feeling stressed.” Maybe grab a jump rope, go for a walk, and walk this thing out. As you’re walking, acknowledge that your visual muscles are also tied to your autonomic nervous system. If you’re focusing on that myopic vision, that’s sending the indication, “There’s a threat in the room. I’m going to get into that fight-flight. I’m going to get the executive function and get stuff done.”
You can start to draw yourself more into that parasympathetic calm, rest-digest side of your nervous system by relaxing your eyes. You take in the panorama, the entirety of a room. Maybe you look up into the trees, get some natural sunlight into your eyes, and emphasize a long exhalation, even an audible exhalation of that vagal stuff, and you’re like, “Wow.”
It is the understanding that you’re engulfed by all of these physiological toggles. It’s levers. Everywhere there are levers. We never got any education on how to realize there are levers, and from there, we understand how to pull which ones went. If you allow yourself to be dust in the wind of modernity, it’s not stressful, but stressful, sedentary, and stagnant. Stress and stagnancy translate to all the things that we don’t want.
When I tell patients to track their blood pressure or what have you at home, I often say, “Turn off the news, put down your phone. If your sister stresses you out, don’t call your sister before doing this. Sit outside for a few minutes.” It’s like medicine. It’s like taking a pharmaceutical to lower your blood pressure. You take it immediately upon getting home, driving your car, sitting in traffic, having a stressful phone call and interactions, relationships, indoor lighting, all these different levers in your lifestyle that switch on the high blood pressure, repeating that example. If we can undo all of that, it’s truly medicine.
The human organism is incredibly lazy. We’re always looking for the easiest way to get work done.
Life is so cool.
It is. We got to realize that we’re the owners here. We need an owner’s manual.
That’s why I wrote the book that I wrote. The full function was working with clients for however long. It was several years before starting the podcast, and I eventually wrote the book several years after that. The thing that I noticed with clients was that we could create amazing change, and the techniques that we’re doing are effective. I can teach people self-care techniques and how to keep their bodies well-oriented. Oftentimes, what would happen is they would come back with the same hip issue, knee pain, back pain, or neck thing. It was this back-and-forth thing, which so many practitioners of any sort are highly familiar with.
The thing that became the most interesting to me was, “I have such a short amount of time with you.” Until this becomes who you are, it’s not going to stick. You have these decades of momentum going in these directions, and the shape of your home, office and travel situation is forming you into this. You could suggest the shape of your mind, your identity structure, or who you think you are. You think you’re a proud, boastful, strong person you wanted to be seen, that can go into a shadow side where it’s too much.
You’re fluttering your ribs out, pulling your shoulders back, and putting undue stress on your lower spine. You’re dumping all that power through your abdomen as opposed to keeping that place stable, or do you feel like, “I don’t want to be seen. I feel ashamed. I feel it’s like deep shame. I don’t even know how to put my finger on it, but I don’t feel like I deserve anything?” The idea of being seen is terrifying. What does that do to your body? Maybe that could be a potential beginning of some type of scoliotic patterns and lateral deviation of the spine where you cower the shoulders forward a little bit. That’s going to start to rotate one shoulder over, like covering up your face.
You don’t want people to see your whole chest, abdomen, and face. That’s the beginning of what could potentially be this scoliotic pattern and an imbalance of the hips. Maybe one of the knees drops in valgus. It’s like a hiding position. I’m not saying that’s the root of all musculoskeletal imbalances, but you can see this in real-time if you’re afraid. We’d already talked about the effect of being afraid. Maybe you clench your mandible, feel your shoulders raise up, and your scalene, SCM, and all that stuff are going to come back.
If you’re defensive, you’re going to come into a defensive posture. If you walk into your house and someone scares and surprises you, how do you respond? You’re probably going to put your hands up and your shoulders forward. There are so many different doors to enter into the physical conversation. I come back to being spellbound by how interesting the human creature is.
It’s analyzing how your joints operate. What is your posture? All that says about who you are. Are you an incredibly defensive person? Are you this shy person? It’s relating all of that to who you are in your daily interactions.
What that related to the book was coming through and saying, “I want this change that we were able to create and the hour that we spent together.” Maybe suddenly, you have this mobility or freedom or spaciousness or strength, “I feel like my body is almost floating. I feel light.” I want that to be you on how you come home, relate with your spouse, show up in a business meeting and take a call. The way we do that is as we start to orient the mold that you exist in the environment to start to create more of that.
This sounds almost ridiculous, maybe for some people, but spending more time on the ground throughout the day is major. That’s where you come from. For eternity, your body has been going up and down off the ground with regularity. It’s a human resting position. Being able to go through a full swat, have the mobility in your hips to go into like a 90/90 position, do across the position, hang out with a kid before they go to kindergarten, and notice their resting positions. It’s not hunter-gatherer tribes and ancestral cultures are always moving, arms up overhead and sprinting. They’re resting a ton.
The human organism is incredibly lazy. We conserve energy well. The way you would do that is as you’re working, you’re going to naturally say, “What’s the easiest way for me to get this work done?” For the most part, you’re probably going to pop a squat, be in a resting position for a moment, open the muscles around the pelvic floor, or start to decompress all the joints in your lower compartment. From there, you’re like, “I’m going to come down,” and do all the grounding positions that I’ve described. Cultures that spend more time on the ground are particular places that have been studied. This would be Northern Africa, Eastern Mediterranean, and Southeast Asia.
They have minimal to no incidence of osteoarthritis in the hips and very low incidence in the knees. I don’t remember the exact number, but I think it was a mid $30 billion industry in the United States, hip and knee replacements. That’s wild. That’s not a natural human thing that your body starts to fall apart. It’s based on us divorcing ourselves from going through these natural tuning or rehydration mechanisms. The way that we bring new fluid into joints and move the old fluid out of joints is through movement.
When you divorce yourself of a certain range of motion movement, which naturally would manifest as a product of what I’m saying of getting up and down off of the ground with some level of regularity, you start to build up these little dents near these places of tissue dehydration and density like callous, scar tissue. From there, what is a disease in the body? For the most part, it’s going to be inflammation and stagnation. There’s a recipe.
You have stagnation in a place. Your body essentially is this beautiful compilation of bags of water. You have your muscle bellies in between any of your organs that are essentially floating on each other, and this tensegrity network, dynamic tension holding your bags of water together. You’re a walking pond with little intersections in between, which are also aqueous. If you want a pond to be healthy, you keep water circulation. You have maybe one of those whirling pump things and have built some beautiful waterfall on the corner. You might have a sprinkler.
The second that the water pump shuts down, you have stagnation and the beginning of a diseased pond. It’s not like your body. That’s your body. Think of all the joints in your body. This gets into Eastern and Chinese medicine, such as the noughties and the chakras. Every joint in your body is considered a minor chakra. This is by no means my depth at all. It is interesting seeing the intersection of East and West. Essentially, they’re places of density in the body. It’s all your little knuckles, toes, ankle, knee, and space between.
Those channels could be blood vessels or arteries. It could be nerves or these meridians. The highway opens up, goes straight, and comes into the pelvis and complexity. We got nerve ganglia and a lot of stuff. If there’s a backup in that space, you’re creating and potentiating some issue to the manifest. If you keep the traffic moving, you don’t have angry and starving people having nervous breakdowns in their cars. The human body is structured to maintain traffic flow based on our ancestral movement patterns, which are easy to integrate into a modern lifestyle.
If you follow the basic structural, industrialized mold of, “It’s not okay to want to move, go outside, have natural sunlight, and explore. You need to sit in that chair, focus on that book and screen. We’re going to teach you how to pass this test. We’re not going to teach you about learning,” that stifles the human organism in an incredible way. They set you free into the world and say, “Go make money.” You’re like, “Crap.”
What a scenario to be this beautiful, magnificent organism, complex array, a symphony of electricity, water, light, and love come in. It’s a prison. It doesn’t need to be. Allow yourself to be that and not make a choice to take care of yourself in a way that you were never taught, listen to podcasts, read books like the ones that you guys do and programs. Following vitality is an important thing.
Doctor means teacher. If you’re just a prescriber of stuff that you’re paid on the backend for, that’s not a doctor; that’s a businessman.
Just because someone is a doctor, an author, or has one million people on Instagram doesn’t mean you need to listen to them. When you meet someone, and you’re like, “I don’t know what it is, but I feel good when I’m around you,” you feel light, stable, flexible, creative, and passionate, “What are you doing? What are you eating? What’s your lifestyle like? Can we hang out?” That is a doctor. Doctor means teacher. If you’re a prescriber of stuff that you’re being paid on the backend for, that’s not a doctor. That’s a businessman. That’s not to say all doctors are bad or good. The root origin of that is, “I want to teach you to be well and understand how to operate this system.” That’s all.
That’s a wonderful way to look at it. Is your doctor honoring the body, what your body is supposed to be doing, and how it’s supposed to be operating? Is it working against nature and all its glory and beauty and saying, “Nope, your body’s doing this,” rather than further investigating, “Why is it doing that? Why is it showing you this?” He’s just writing a script, “Take this pain med and other pharmaceuticals to suppress your heart rate.”
Why don’t we look at why our body’s doing this and identify why that’s our pattern? That is incredible that people don’t consider that when they’re going to pay money for somebody’s healthcare and their input into how they should take care of their body. You’ve got an Align program coming up. Can you tell us what that might entail?
The main premise of the program is to get any person that goes through it to regain access to be able to functionally get up and down off the ground, eventually using no hands. There are two premises. One is regaining full functional shoulder mobility range of motion and then being able to connect your shoulders to your hips. That’s very important.
There’s an interesting test that I’m sure you’ve learned that I also put in the book called the sit-rise test for this guy. It was published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology. Essentially, it suggests is that at each point of contact, you need to press your hands down against the ground or your knees or if you have a wobble. Each point of contact increases your likelihood of all-cause mortality.
The folks they had there were ages 51 to 80, I believe. It was 6.3 years they were doing the study. What they found in there was that the people that could get up and down off the ground scored an 8 to a 10. They either used 1 or 2 points at the most. They were six times more likely to live during that time compared to the people that would score down from 0 to 3. If you had to use seven points in the up and down, your vitality is limited. We need to sort this out. It’s not to say that you can hack this test, and suddenly your stuff will be sorted out or whatever it is.
It’s a general litmus test or heuristic-based like, “Am I doing the things that I needed to do to be able to maintain sovereignty, autonomy, circulation, and health?” If I’m not able to get up and down off the ground, it’s like, “We need to address that in a big way.” That’s one of the promises broken down into four-way things. The other would be recuperating the full functional shoulder range of motion, which is limited to many people because most of our lives are in this meter rotation, protraction, and elevation.
It’s this defensive, stressed shoulder girdle position. We’ve got the carpal tunnel and clawed thing happening with our arms, and it’s not good. There are simple ways to unwind both of those patterns. The next big thing is being able to connect the shoulders to the hips. A lot of our movement patterns are based on bilateral positions like a bench press or a squat. Both legs are in the same position. That position is fine. You can learn a lot of things from those positions, but there’s not a lot of connection between the right shoulder to the left hip left and the right hip to the left shoulder. Every time you walk, run, throw, or do any judo, dancing, tango, anything that matters with your body that acts as a physical life expression is all about that spiral connection, low left to high right.
It goes from the back hip to the back shoulder, front hip to the front shoulder. That’s the primary focus is, and it’s invaluable. I don’t think it’s my opinion. It’s a fact. Their life will be dramatically improved if they have access to those ranges of motion. If you’re maintaining a lifestyle from there where it’s like, “That’s who I am. The way that I live, every day, I’m getting better,” that’s my hope for every person on the planet. It changes the idea that, “As I get old, I start to fall apart.” I start to have these limiting beliefs, “I don’t want to get hurt. I can’t do that anymore.”
If you think that you were at your best when you were like eighteen, playing football in high school, you have a very limited perception of your potential. You should, but you could be at your prime at 30, 40, 50. As you get beyond 60, 70, 80, we’re starting to enter into more of those that fluidity and spaciousness. You’ve had your whole life to understand cultivating leverage and balance through your body to a wide array of positions. That’s the 160-year-old Tai-chi out of the park. They’re like, “He moves nice.”
It’s the contralateral movement and fluid. It’s not rickety.
If you’re 90 years old, you might not need to be PR-ing on a deadlift, but you can move well. That’s the promise. Any idea outside of that is not accurate. It’s a limited perspective that’s broken. That part would be my opinion. Most people, if you feel into it, it would be like, “That’s about right.” We can keep moving better and better and die. It’s the whole longevity thing of, “I’m going to freeze my brain and body and come back in 200 years or whatever.” I’m like, “Maybe there could be some space to observe your relationship to the death in that scenario.” It could be a little resistance. As far as moving, I truly know you can move better and better and then die. That’s where my mind is at. That’s what we do in the program.
If people are interested in learning about that, we’ll have a bunch of free resources for folks. We have the URL AlignPodcast.com/HealthyHeart. People can go and check it out. We’ll give you breakdowns of starting to cultivate that mobility through the shoulder and the ranges of motion necessary to get up and down off the ground effectively. Even if you’re a super-strong athletic person, there’s still immense value in this.
You can be flexible and be incredibly strong. You have to move and have that mobility. We talk about getting patients to their 100-year-heart, having all of our readers and followers get to their 100-year-heart. What’s the point of that if you can’t move? I would encourage all of our readers please go, if you haven’t already followed, and subscribe to the show. We’re going to follow The Align Podcat. I know that I’m going to subscribe and get set up for The Align Program. I’ve got some rickety shoulders, and we can get all improvement in our movement. Grab Aaron’s book. Give us a rundown of where we can find more about you and your book. Give us all the details.
I will interject that I learned something every single time I listen. I truly love it.
I appreciate that. It’s so funny. Even now, I still feel surprised and humbled. There’s a little bit of insecurity or validation that comes up like, “You actually listened. Do you like it?” That’s been a massive learning experience. It’s learning out loud. I borrowed that from a friend, but I enjoy the things that I’m interested in. I have this endless thirst to understand what is going on in this physical experience. It’s such a cool opportunity to bring the people that we have on there and get to have conversations there. The Align Method book, podcast, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram are all on the podcast.
Thank you so much for coming on here. This has been an absolute joy. We could go on and on. We may have to have you back at some point in time. I am so grateful for you to join us here. I know that you’ve got a lot of great information to share. We are in the business of continued education. We keep learning and bringing in people that we trust and vibe with. I appreciate it. Thank you all for reading. I encourage you to share this and other episodes with people you know and love and help everybody get to their 100-year-heart and the moving body. Thank you for reading another episode of the show.
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About Aaron Alexander
Aaron is a pioneering manual therapist and movement coach, founder and creator of the Align Method, author of the Align Method book, and host of the Align Podcast.
He has worked with some of the world’s greatest professional athletes, performers, celebrities, and everyone in between, to relieve pain while creating greater strength, flexibility, and ease in their mind and body.
After working with thousands of clients and spending years backpacking around the world, being immersed in various cultures, he has come to the conclusion that the healthiest people are not gym rats. Instead, they naturally integrate the foundational principles outlined in The Align Method to strengthen their bodies, balance their minds, and activate their innate systems of healing in daily life.
Aaron has simplified ancient techniques for cultivating vitality and assimilated them into modernized, simplified, movement-based principles for you to easily integrate into any situation throughout the day. When you do, every moment becomes an opportunity to develop greater strength, flexibility and confidence to truly step into your physical potential and drop the baggage of pain and limitation.