Healing Your Body and Mind Through Movement with Aaron Alexander [Episode #431]
Today’s podcast topic is: Healing Your Body and Mind Through Movement with Aaron Alexander
I am so excited to have a very special guest, Aaron Alexander, who is a manual therapist and movement coach, the founder of Align Therapy, and host of the top-rated Align podcast. Listen in as Aaron shares his approach on proper movement and why it’s so important for our overall health. Start confidently re-inhabiting your body to be strong, flexible and pain-free and build your own momentary physical practice today!
Aaron shares why movement is such a big deal…
What it means to show up…
Benefits from paying attention to movement…
Tips on how to practice being yourself…
Ways to increase motion, circulation and digestion…
We discuss the best time of day to incorporate these movement tips…
Natural methods to reverse negative impact on your spine…
If these methods are a learned behavior or something we tap into more naturally…
Exercise and how it relates to chronic pain…
About Aaron Alexander
Aaron Alexander CR, LMT is an accomplished manual therapist and movement coach with over 13 years of professional experience. He’s the founder of Align Therapy™, an integrated approach to functional movement and self-care that has helped thousands of people out of pain and into health.
Aaron hosts the top-rated Align Podcast featuring the biggest names in movement and wellness. Aaron’s clients include Hollywood celebrities, Olympic/professional athletes and everyone in between. He teaches world-wide and resides in Venice, CA.
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Kimberly: Hi Beauties and welcome back to our interview podcast today we have a very special, actually return guest, Aaron Alexander who is a dear, dear friend of mine, and he is also an accomplished manual therapist, he’s a movement coach. He’s the founder of the whole Align Method, and his new book is actually out this week so congratulations, Aaron, and thank you so much for being here.
Fan Of The Week
Kimberly: I have a lot of questions for you, but before we dive in, I just want to give a quick shout out to our fan of the week. His or her name is Nata Fed and here she writes, a must listen podcast, Kim is so knowledgeable and inspiring. Nata Fed thank you so much for being our fan of the week. Thank you so much for being part of our community. I appreciate you so much and sending you so much love.
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Kimberly: Beauties, it can be as simple as this, it could be one sentence or two sentences to leave us a review. Thank you so much in advance. Just head over to iTunes it takes a moment or two, it’s super easy and it’s just a great way to support the podcast and help other beauties just like yourself, find the show.
Kimberly: Another quick reminder, to also please subscribe that way you don’t miss any other amazing interviews and our Q&A Thursdays as well.
Interview with Aaron Alexander
Kimberly: All right, all that being said, I am super excited to, not just be sitting here but to be sitting on the floor with you Aaron, which I know is part of your whole movement method. First of all, why should we care that much about movement? Most of us just think about exercising, for me it’s either yoga or going for walks but I know for you it’s a whole lifestyle. It has an impact on our wellness overall. Why is that, why is movement such a big deal?
Aaron shares why movement is such a big deal
Aaron Alexander: Oh men, there’re a ton of reasons.
Kimberly: [inaudible 00:01:47] one with a big question.
Aaron Alexander: No, I love it. So that’s, I’ve been all hot and bothered by, about Ram Dass, [crosstalk 00:01:53], so he’s got, he had his documentary come out and there’s an amazing actual musician called East Forest, that people probably appreciate [inaudible 00:02:03].
Aaron Alexander: Have you heard the Ram Dass album?
Kimberly: I haven’t heard it with East Forest, but I’ve heard their other albums, which is amazing.
Aaron Alexander: And, so one of the things that I gathered from him is that you can’t teach what you know, you can only teach what you are or who you are. And I think that what the Align Method, with a book and what I find to be most enamoring, with our whole movement practice is that you are the way that you move 100% of the time throughout your day. So we’re not just the movement that we do when we’re at the gym, and the movement we do that we’re one of the yoga class. It’s how did you show up to the yoga class? How did you show up to the gym? How do you show up with your family? How do you show up while you’re at your home making soup.
What it means to show up
Kimberly: When you show up? Are you talking just about posture or?
Aaron Alexander: Everything, the way that you breathe is an example of a potential movement practice if you start to pay attention to it, the way that you walk, the way that you lounge so right now for example, we’re sitting on the ground as we’re doing this-
Kimberly: Which I love by the way.
Aaron Alexander: [inaudible 00:03:03] a good opportunity. So as we’re doing this it’s like, okay, cool, we’re going to do this, we’ll record this conversation, it’s kind of like work in quotations.
Kimberly: It feels a lot less formal.
Aaron Alexander: Exactly.
Kimberly: Feels a lot more communal.
Aaron Alexander: [crosstalk 00:03:15] together or see if we can reach across [crosstalk 00:03:17] we can kind of almost have a little bit more like a play mindset. Have it work like a playful filter on what we’re doing. And it’s also circulating lymphatic fluid [inaudible 00:03:26] lower compartments here, which is the way that you’re able to circulate that stuff, is through muscular contraction, and compression. So as we’re down on the ground here, we’re literally starting to move all that blood and lymph and all that fluid stuff out of our lower body, back up to our heart for better circulation.
Aaron Alexander: And along with that, it’s better for digestion because your legs are closer to your heart and your organs. So you don’t have all of that blood pulled up in your lower body. Instead, it’s like you think, if I put my leg up above my heart, if you’ve ever rolled your ankle or something like that, your like, “okay, make sure, doctor said I got to get my legs up above my heart.
Kimberly: Yes, elevation.
Aaron Alexander: [crosstalk 00:04:04] circulation, so you can start to heal that joint. You can heal your joints all the time. My calves are sore right now, because I ran on a track yesterday. And so literally, it’s like, it’s not that I just rolled my ankle so I got to recirculate. It’s like, no, I’m always in a state of healing. And we can live our lives in such a way that is more conducive for that, if we start paying attention.
Benefits from paying attention to movement
Kimberly: I love talking about circulation, we do hear a lot for skin benefits and brain function and just feeling more vitality day to day. So how much would we have to sit on the floor? Or, we’ll get into some more of your methods? How much how, I guess I’m asking you how much do we have to change our life to get benefits from paying attention to movement? Is it day to day, moment to moment?
Aaron Alexander: So first of all method, I have resistance around calling anything a method, especially when it comes to a movement-
Kimberly: Love the cover by the way.
Aaron Alexander: Thanks. I appreciate that. It’s shot at Santa Monica Muscle Beach. Yeah, the AcroYoga area. So, method, any form of movement methodology, like Bruce Lee had a lot of resistance against any forms of methods. A lot of people that are really smart, think about these things. It’s like, what’s really hard to contain life [crosstalk 00:05:18] is much more a [morefas 00:05:20] than just like, “okay, here’s the method you’ll be.” So the end of the book, the way that I finish it is saying, the goal of all of this is to be able to forget all of this method stuff [crosstalk 00:05:31]. Yeah.
Kimberly: To live it.
Aaron Alexander: Yeah. So once you get to a point where it’s like, there’s a quote from philosopher called Alvin Toffler. So the successful people of future, will be the ones that can learn, unlearn, and relearn. So what the book represents is the movement mold that we live in, in modernity, in Western culture is such that for the most part, ever since you’re a little kid, you start off as a baby and you’re twisting and you’re turning, you know about this. You’re extending your spine [crosstalk 00:05:59]-
Kimberly: So free.
Aaron Alexander: Then you just fall over and then you’re squatting, and you’re standing, and you fall over. And then, I mean it’s just so beautiful watching a child [crosstalk 00:06:09] gravity.
Aaron Alexander: It’s like this perfect experience. And then all of a sudden we put them into strollers, then we put them into car seats. Then in kindergarten, and first grade happens. Now we’re on a desk, and then iPads happen, so iPads happen and now I’m staring into a screen. And now I’m almost being like shackled in my own body in a sense.
Aaron shares tips on how to practice being yourself
Kimberly: So what do we, give us a little teaser Aaron. Let’s say, a lot of us do have to spend time in the car, we do have to be at a desk or eat at the table. But what are a couple things we can do to practice your method?
Aaron Alexander: Yeah.
Kimberly: We just said that to [crosstalk 00:06:44] is the method. Yes, yes. Yes.
Aaron Alexander: The aim word was method. Yeah. I mean method’s fine. Method was actually helpful, and I’ll get back to what you asked, I think method was actually helpful with constructing the book knowing that the publishers were nowhere and you need to call it Method.
Kimberly: Right. Sure. Give it a structure.
Aaron Alexander: Because, it forced more structure into it, which I think is great.
Aaron Alexander: And then within that, like I said, in the end, it’s okay. Like, let go of all the structure, just be yourself.
Aaron Alexander: If you’re thinking about the way to breathe, then you’re kind of disconnected from your own natural breath, if you think about the way to walk. You’re meeting a girl or a guy for the first time on a date or something, regarding job interview, and you’re about [inaudible 00:07:21] performing [crosstalk 00:07:23] a lot.
Kimberly: Sure. But it’s kind of like, to learn it, to give us the information and then forget first, it’s like learning how to eat-
Aaron Alexander: And then forget first. You need to put the [inaudible 00:07:32], put your 10,000 hours in and then all of a sudden, it’s like, it just [crosstalk 00:07:35] work.
Kimberly: It’s just natural. Yeah,
Aaron Alexander: Yeah, so as far as actual tangible tidbits that people can play with. The first question before, was the, how much time should, which is a funny word, but-
Kimberly: I know it’s the worst.
Aaron Alexander: What would be an optimal amount of time to spend in the garage day? The answer would be, look at your kids. They are, how often do they, it’s not like it’s like, “okay, I’m doing my ground time.”
Kimberly: I’m putting in the 36 minutes.
Aaron Alexander: Yeah Exactly. It’s like, no, no, no, that’s not the way that your body works. It’s the same way with like drinking water or getting exposure to sunlight. It’s not, “okay, I got my 20 minutes of sunlight I went out 11:30 PM or am rather, and I got it.” It’s like, No, no, you want to get sunlight at 10 AM, you want to get sunlight at 6 AM, you want to get it at 2 PM, you want to-
Kimberly: Work it into your life.
Aaron Alexander: Work it into your life. So it’s the same thing with movement. You want to work movement into your life. Yeah. So how much time should you spend on the ground, in the ground chapter, I say start with at least 30 minutes a day. So that could be, a minute, 30 times or that could be, you hang out and you check your emails or you drink some tea or have lunch or whatever. And that would probably be just a 30 minute chunk in that, but at least have that time each day. And then what that does is it doesn’t allow your body to get to that point where there’s a chasm between you standing or sitting at 90 degrees on the ground,
Aaron Alexander: And if there’s never that chasm created, then fall risk doesn’t exist, for you and your family and the people that you’ve inspired to spend more time playing on the ground with you. So that’s the number one leading reason for elderly needing assisted living, because I fall, I can’t get up. So just imagine what that experience is like, as millions of people are going through it right now. Losing your physical autonomy, think of your parents losing their physical autonomy.
Kimberly: Getting so much more stiff and rigid.
Aaron Alexander: Yeah. So just, the thing that really gets me is thinking, imagine my mom, my dad at home and losing that ability to get down and up off of the ground. And knowing that that was preventable the whole time. The issue was we created a chasm because culturally, most all of our life is, that whatever the height of this culture is, so it’s two and a half, three feet off the ground.
Aaron Alexander: Most of Western culture world is void in that space around three feet. So your feet up to around middle of your femur. That’s just, it’s like a dead space-
Kimberly: And you’re saying-
Aaron Alexander: [inaudible 00:10:02] we need to bring it back.
Kimberly: Yeah, so range of motion, better circulation, digestion can be helped just by sitting on the floor more.
Aaron Alexander: Absolutely.
Aaron Alexander: I mean, it’s a part of your human evolution [crosstalk 00:10:13].
Kimberly: Moving your lymphatic system, like you said, closer to your heart.
Aaron Alexander: Yeah. Even your ankle joints, your tibia as a fetus, they start to develop little facettes, joints, which essentially I think they’re this like little sliding plate surface, for your ankles to be able to actually go into a full deep squat. So literally ever since you’re, inside of your mom, your ankles are getting prepped to be able to go through a full range of motion of a squat. It’s a part of you at a reptilian, mammalian, bacterial organism. It’s who you are, and then when you leave that then all of a sudden now we have issues and now, incontinence is a thing and now all of a sudden, osteoarthritis is a thing and all this issues manifest themselves, because we’re going against what our body naturally does. And I think it’s okay to have a couch and have a chair, and have a Range Rover and flying planes. It’s just [crosstalk 00:11:07].
Kimberly: Well, there’s a practical side Sure.
Aaron Alexander: Yeah, so not saying anybody should burn their couch. I’m not saying anybody needs to never sit on the chair because it’s going to kill you or make your eyeballs explode. I was saying, have a bit more intelligence while you’re using all of those things and recognize that they are having an effect on you, but you can be smarter than the chair. That’s what the book describes, how to be smarter than the chair.
More tips on how to increase motion, circulation and digestion
Kimberly: Okay, well give us another tip, like we can sit on the floor more, I think that’s pretty doable for a lot of us, play with our kids, drink tea. What’s another thing we can incorporate?
Aaron Alexander: Yeah, well so another thing, one with the floor, you need to make sure to make the floor really comfortable.
Aaron Alexander: So get like a comfy rug, cushions, pillows, Moroccan poofs.
Kimberly: Yeah, make it a place you want to hang out.
Aaron Alexander: Yeah, throw a yoga mat down in your living room floor, make it [inaudible 00:11:57], put it near a window, so you get the sun coming down in that area. Yeah, it needs to be [inaudible 00:12:01]. I don’t want anybody thinking that I’m suggesting you sit on a cold tile floor, and you’re being therapeutic. Like that’s not what I’m, make it awesome.
Kimberly: Yes. I love that, make it awesome.
Aaron Alexander: Make it awesome, yeah. So another thing that one could do that’s super simple is just spending a little bit of time, each day with your arms up over your head in the form of hanging. If hanging is too much for-
Kimberly: You mean hanging from a bar?
Aaron Alexander: Yeah, yeah, or a tree branch or anything. And so there’s lots of potential and interesting ideas around our ancestors being our boreal creatures. [crosstalk 00:12:38] trees and hanging and-
Kimberly: what are the benefits of that?
Aaron Alexander: Awesome I think, so for one thing, are the mold that we live in, it’s such that we’re kind of going into screens and our shoulders are kind of rolled forward, in our bucket seats of all of our vehicles.
Aaron Alexander: And then depression is the number one leading cause of disability worldwide. I would say without a doubt, there’s a mechanical conversation there, we’re structurally moving ourselves into this [crosstalk 00:13:04] position of depression. Just something as simple as decompressing your spine, reaching up over your head. It literally puts you into that, they call it like the power pose.
Kimberly: So literally just like this?
Aaron Alexander: Literally just like that. Spending time in this position, which you’ll see any time to go to a yoga class.
Aaron Alexander: There’s Lot of reaching out to the fingertips and up overhead.
Kimberly: A lot of Kundalini yoga to eagles breath.
Aaron Alexander: Yeah, exactly. You’re retraining your body to be in that stacked up right position. So passive hanging. There’s a whole book beyond your line method, but there’s another book called, healing shoulder pain, by a guy called dr. John Kirsch, which I base a lot of the hanging chapter off of his work. [inaudible 00:13:45] He’s orthopedic surgeon that found that he could cure in quotations, cure is a funny word as well, people’s shoulder pain. So as opposed to going through having, going through orthopedic surgery with him, he’s like, “I have this crazy idea. What if we just decompress that shoulder girdle, through hanging for just a total of a minute and a half each day?” And so that’s what he suggested for people and we found was, like a ridiculously high percentage of the patients that he would see. He could heal their shoulder pain just through going through this passive hanging protocol.
Aaron Alexander: And so what you’re doing with that, you’re literally restructuring the shape of the shoulder girdle, you’re opening up that space in between the ribs, you’re starting to bring the, you’re opening up your lung tissue, because that’s all connected in there, you’re starting to get your diaphragm to come back more live. [crosstalk 00:14:38] Stuck in this compressed position, your just opening up [crosstalk 00:14:43].
Kimberly: You just feel a more expansive.
Aaron Alexander: Think of your lungs as hot air balloons, and then so if those hot air balloons, all the time have some kind of cement blocks, kind of pressing them down. It’s like, “oh, we can’t get air into the bag.” So we’re kind of, trying to open that space up, knock those blocks off of the bat, so we can blow some air into that space. And then once they’re open, they’re open. Then you go for a run, and you walk, and you laugh.
We discuss the best time of day to incorporate these tips
Kimberly: So would it be ideal to do in the morning?
Aaron Alexander: Anytime, but yeah, in the morning it’d be great, yeah it’s something that I do each day when I get up.
Kimberly: Wow. So even if, I don’t have a bar Aaron, but it feels good to go this, even 30 seconds a minute could be beneficial, would you say?
Aaron Alexander: It is beneficial.
Kimberly: Oh, wonderful. Because that’s doable, to kind of work in, again if it gets to be a whole workout I need to add and I’m like, “Oh, God, I can’t.” But just-
Aaron Alexander: No. There’s a whole bucket structure around all of the fringe aspects of fitness. There’s not really much in it. That’s like, “oh, okay, I’m doing this workout.”
Kimberly: Do you do a workout or do you do more natural?
Aaron Alexander: Yeah, [crosstalk 00:15:45] stuff, so I do yoga. I do AcroYoga, I do power lifting type movements, [crosstalk 00:15:49].
Kimberly: Do you do sit ups and push ups? Or kettlebells.
Aaron Alexander: Yeah I do a lot of kettlebell stuff. I do surf a lot. Getting into running now, I’d like to do an Iron Man, [inaudible 00:16:00]. Yeah, so different things. And, I think it’s very valuable for your body to go through a lot of different opportunities for adaptation. So if you’re a specialist in anyone specific realm, eventually you’ll burn yourself out and that specialized [inaudible 00:16:18] a lot with kids. That’s like Wayne Gretzky said one of the biggest disasters to have happened to ice hockey, is to have played, started to play year round. So he found a lot of value and like, “no, no, we play in the winter because it’s cold.”
Kimberly: And then we do other things.
Aaron Alexander: And then in the summer you play soccer and you play football, and you go hiking, the moment that you’re like, nope, here’s what we do, these specific motions, and we’re the best in the world with these motions. That’s really cool for a short time. It’s kind of like kindling wood. It’s like a flash in the pan and that spark, like, whoa! The kids got really good at golf. But then meet that same kid that was obsessed with golf for the first 15 years of his life. Talk to him when he’s 25. And all of a sudden he has all these missing pieces in his movement profile. Yeah, so the more you deal with that [crosstalk 00:17:12].
Kimberly: Interesting, it’s just like anything, like eating a wider variety diet. Same thing with movement.
Aaron Alexander: Yeah, yeah.
Kimberly: Well, what would you say Aaron, about, you talked a lot about going like this, and this causes depression, for a lot of moms. I mean, I have a three year old and I still hold him everywhere, and I’m actually, which is the case in a lot of countries. I know it’s not the norm here, but I am still nursing. So it’s-
Aaron Alexander: Great. [crosstalk 00:17:36].
Kimberly: Oh, so few of them were like, “oh my God, you’re nursing a three year olds.” But again.
Aaron Alexander: No, I think you should be nursing till you’re four. So says [inaudible 00:17:41] I mean, sure [crosstalk 00:17:43].
Natural methods to reverse negative impact on the spine
Kimberly: Yeah, I mean, well, my, in the Philippines where my mother’s from and Mexico, there’s a lot of countries where they do nurse to four or five, Africa. But anyways, the point is, he’s quite heavy now. Right? He’s 35 pounds and there’s a lot of moms, there’s just, a lot of us hold a lot of things like you said, being on our phone. I may imagine this has a lot of that impact you were talking about, feeling small depression. Just not, doesn’t feel good energetically. So what are some natural, what is in your method reverses this, your spine?
Aaron Alexander: So first I wouldn’t personally say that those positions cause anything. But I would certainly say they’re correlated. So there’s the interesting, as a photographer that you might’ve seen, it was all over the internet, where he took cell phones out of people’s hands, Photoshop, and-
Kimberly: I didn’t see that.
Aaron Alexander: But you get the idea [crosstalk 00:18:34]-
Kimberly: Oh, gosh.
Aaron Alexander: It’s like, “oh my God, all these people sad people.”
Aaron Alexander: What’s going on? It’s like, “oh no, I’m just checking my text.” It’s like, “oh okay. Well it looks like you’re pretty freaking sad.” [crosstalk 00:18:46] your text.
Kimberly: Wow. Yeah, exactly. You’re hunched over like you’re 90.
Aaron Alexander: And so there’s been all sorts of interesting research all around, from different forms of one, the way that certain positions affect your access to memories. That’s when you’re in a hunched over position, there’s a specific research done in San Francisco University, they mentioned the book, they had students in that hunched over position. I called that the, [mobid 00:19:10] archetype, in the book. And while they’re in that position, it’s easier for them to recall more challenging memories. And then when you’re in upright position, it’s easier for you to recall more, optimistic, positive [crosstalk 00:19:23] memories. And what that is, it could be a lot of things, but one you’re familiar with, Neuro-linguistic programming [crosstalk 00:19:31].
Aaron Alexander: Yeah, so creating anchors in your life. So, Tony, I did at one of his UPW events, he’s like, and he says, “show me your moves.” Or whatever, you don’t talk about [inaudible 00:19:44]?
Kimberly: I never [crosstalk 00:19:46], I can imagine.
Aaron Alexander: [crosstalk 00:19:49]. So you got this move that you do when you’re in this like peak state. So guys like banging their chest or [crosstalk 00:19:56] or whatever.
Kimberly: So then you can go back to that feeling.
Aaron Alexander: So yeah, so you take yourself into that state and then you’re hitting your knees like some Polynesian warrior or whatever, while you’re in that peak state, to use his language, and then you’re anchoring [crosstalk 00:20:11] language, your thoughts and feelings to that motion and that’s what you’ve subconsciously been doing since you’re probably like a single celled organism, I’d imagine [inaudible 00:20:22] if something happens and the cell contracts and changes. But certainly since you were a baby, when something bad, in quotation, happens your body goes in and protects.
Aaron Alexander: When something good happens and, “oh wow, mom’s feeding me, or hugging me, or loving me, or and playing.” [inaudible 00:20:40] up, kind of like a flower, like a lotus. And so you’re continually anchoring those positions since you’ve been a very small, I think, tiny little organism but, certainly like a baby and small child. So you can start to access some of those same emotions, it’s your choice what you want to access, it’s like you can go through the different colors of the palette. So there’s nothing wrong with being in a hunched over collapsed position. It’s just one artistic expression of your thoughts, feelings, emotions and structure. That’s more of like a gray or maybe a brown, or black. And then there’s pink and purple and red-
Kimberly: Sure. To balance
Aaron Alexander: [inaudible 00:21:23] you what, it’s okay to [crosstalk 00:21:25] with the whole palette.
Kimberly: Because I feel, it’s just a beautiful feeling in nursing and holding your child, but then I guess I just feel structurally and energetically, afterwards hunched-
Aaron Alexander: Well you need both.
Kimberly: Yeah, like moving back.
Aaron Alexander: Yeah. So something as simple as spending time, right now we’re hanging out on the ground. That’s great. We could hang out and you could lay on your back and put your feet up. [inaudible 00:21:53] put your feet up the wall or lay on the couch and put your feet up the side of it or any position is okay. We have this maybe a handful of positions that are like socially acceptable for us to be in.
Kimberly: It’s true. Cross your legs.
Aaron Alexander: It’s like [inaudible 00:22:12], yeah, cross my legs. Okay, cool, [inaudible 00:22:13] the leg cross thing now. Okay, now I’m kind of wisping my beard a little bit. Okay, now I’m standing on one hip, now the other hip. Okay, I guess I’ll cross my leg again. [crosstalk 00:22:23].
If this is a learned behavior or something we tap into more naturally
Kimberly: Is that just learned behavior from watching your parents and other people?
Aaron Alexander: Yeah, you’re learning but that’s socially acceptable. Whereas, I look it up a no [bow 00:22:34] or a child or any kind of [inaudible 00:22:36] that’s just more tapped into their more natural selves. They don’t have all that cultural indoctrination of what positions are okay and not okay. They go through all sorts of weird positions. [inaudible 00:22:47] what doing with that, is you’re literally massaging yourself at a cellular level. This is a fancy term called mechanical transduction, which is essentially the way that your cells interpret movement into chemical stimuli. So when you’re moving your hips or your pelvic floor, your organs, that twist, turn, pull, compression of the cell, literally communicates information on the way that it expresses itself. It’s pretty good.
Kimberly: So there’s exercises in here I noticed, I just-
Aaron Alexander: Yeah, probably 65 different exercises, and then it also ties to a video, free video program that people can get with it as well.
Exercise and how it relates to chronic pain
Kimberly: How does this relate to chronic pain?
Aaron Alexander: Chronic pain’s a tough question. Because it could be, there’s different perspectives on it. So there’s one interesting perspective from a guy called John Sarno, Dr. John Sarno. So you’re familiar with the, his book’s called, Mind over Back Pain. We actually share the same publisher, which is very exciting to me, because his book’s like one of the, it’s the seminal book [crosstalk 00:23:53].
Kimberly: Yes. Was he into ralphing too, [fashion 00:23:56] work?
Aaron Alexander: He wasn’t a ralpher, I’m sure he was influenced by it. But yeah, he was he wasn’t a ralpher per se. But in that book he describes chronic pain. He describes, he calls it TMS, or Tension myositis. And what he, the way they described this is that, chronic pain of, a very high percentage of people are actually suffering from repressed something, repressed anger or repressed sadness. [crosstalk 00:24:27] expression.
Kimberly: Right, starting on the emotional level. Sure,
Aaron Alexander: Yeah, there’s my natural self that wants to move and breathe and scream-
Kimberly: Be free.
Aaron Alexander: And like that person made me mad. We sorted it out. As opposed to me be like, “oh, it’s not culturally acceptable to sort this out now, so I’m just going to stuff it down. I’m concerned that person will judge me, or whatever, maybe I’ll just stuff that down. And in the moment, it seems like, “okay, cool. I’m fine. I zip my tie back up and I got back in the car, I went home. Meanwhile, you’re sitting in the car. With all of that, end up [crosstalk 00:25:01].
Kimberly: It’s still in your cells.
Aaron Alexander: And you’re just in that hunched over position, you’re driving, and then you’re staring at your cell phone, which puts you into even a more the contracted place, because your eyes affect the state of your autonomic nervous system. Looking at the distance it calms you down, looking at close puts you to more of an activated state-
Kimberly: And everybody’s on their phones.
Aaron Alexander: Everybody is in their phone, yeah. So that’s, I kind of went off on a tangent there, which is the tendency of this whole conversation.
Kimberly: Yeah, well there’s a lot of information here. I like the tangents.
Aaron Alexander: Yeah, yeah. But yeah, there’s lots of exercises in there.
Kimberly: Well hold on, what was that? What was the original question? Oh, chronic pain.
Aaron Alexander: Oh, the chronic pain.
Kimberly: So moving in a more organic way can keep it at bay?
Aaron Alexander: That’s one potential example of what chronic pain is. So that’s a fascinating one. There’s, you could also say perhaps, there’s actually not a lot of really strong research that associates postural patterns to directly creating pain in the body. There’s like, there’s various different, there’s one study, it was done in Finland, and they had, they did mock knee surgeries with people-
Kimberly: Like placebo effects.
Aaron Alexander: Yeah.
Aaron Alexander: I think it was like 240 or 250 odd subjects they did the surgeries with. They did one mock one with half of the group, where they just gave them a little scar and then-
Kimberly: Oh my gosh!
Aaron Alexander: And then the other group, and they told them before, like you’re either going to get the surgery or not, and then the other group they actually gave the surgery, and what they found, they came back after that, I believe it was like a year, kept on checking back on them was, there was no difference between the group. [crosstalk 00:26:35] like that, belief that you had the surgery, actually literally affects your perception of pain and your rehab experience.
Aaron Alexander: There’s also lots of, when they break down, there’s some people who will have, it looks like their spine is about to permeate, their joints are hanging on by a thread, like oh, it doesn’t look good. It looks like a war scene in there. They’re like, ” hope I don’t have any pain in that space.” And then the inverse can happen when somebody say, fibromyalgia, or something where it’s like, you look at the joy and the MRI and the X ray. And the person’s like, “dude, I feel like I’m on fire.”
Kimberly: Yeah, completely inflamed.
Aaron Alexander: [crosstalk 00:27:11] no your spine’s great. It’s totally good. Your like, “well, I am, I need to be medicated because my back hurts so much.”
Kimberly: So many people have back pain. I mean, there’s so much back surgery.
Aaron Alexander: Yeah 80%. [crosstalk 00:27:22].
Kimberly: So tell me about, and I imagine a lot of people listening to this think, if I’m going to move, if I’m going to incorporate anything, I want to relieve my back pain. So sitting on the floor, like the things we’re talking about, is it cumulatively? How does it help?
Aaron Alexander: So I just described more of the, kind of more like the metaphysical, kind of more like tinfoil hat, descriptions [inaudible 00:27:46]. And, then there is a conversation right? It in the end, it’s like stress. So, stress is, your mind and your body are one, [crosstalk 00:27:55]-
Aaron Alexander: In your mind, there’s no separation. It’s not mind and body, it’s like [inaudible 00:28:02], how are we going to conflict those words.
Kimberly: It’s true, they’re not, always say they’re not connected, because connection implies two separate things that are fused at certain points. It’s just one loophole.
Aaron Alexander: Yeah exactly. So within that, one of the stressors on your physical tissue could be the thoughts swirling around your mind.
Kimberly: Yes, thoughts are things, thoughts affect hormones, so many different things, aspects.
Aaron Alexander: Yeah, yeah absolutely. And so that could be your relationships, could be creating physical pain in your body. That could be nutrition. [crosstalk 00:28:30] so you have bunch of allergens in your fridge and your cupboard, that you can keep on putting it every day and your body feels like it’s under attack. It’s another stress, that could be finally getting back tomorrow, you think the Aligned Method would be, it could be mechanical stress. So it’s literally every time. So you continually have the weight of gravity passing through your body, 9.8 meters per second squared, it keeps us on the ground.
Aaron Alexander: So you’re always kind of carrying weight in a sense. Throughout the day, that weight is really valuable for the healing of all of your body. Unless there is misalignment or this joints which are kind of like, they’re not stacked [century 00:29:09], this fancy term for it on top of each other. Now all of a sudden your movement becomes kind of inflammatory. It’s almost like you got a little friction fire in some of the points. So that’s an example of one of the stressors. And so we can start to work with alleviating that stressor-
Kimberly: By learning to move, properly.
Aaron Alexander: By learning to move effectively by going through some of the, like I said, I broke down I think probably about 60 different self care practices in the book, that’s helped to start aligning those joints and re-hydrating those tissues. But I’m not fooled. I’m sure, I’m fooled in lots of ways, but I’m not fooled [inaudible 00:29:46]. Your physical experience is just purely physical.
Kimberly: Correct. So you’re saying the back pain is, the way we move but also the thoughts we think, the water we drink? What we-
Aaron Alexander: It’s all the same thing.
Kimberly: Yeah, it’s multifactorial. Aaron Alexander: And what leads you [inaudible 00:29:59] water and buying that food and choosing those relationships and choosing [inaudible 00:30:03] path at all that stuff really comes down from I think a root of self worth [inaudible 00:30:10] structure. So if you change, who, okay, who was Kimberly Snyder?
Aaron Alexander: Of all of a sudden your personality, that’s a thing, people have multiple personality disorder, and then all of a sudden, it’s like their vision can change, and they [inaudible 00:30:29], when you switch that, their blood pressure can change and their heart rate will change. So if you change who is
Kimberly, then all of a sudden that might change your choices at the grocery store, that might change your, the people that [crosstalk 00:30:43].
Aaron Alexander: That might change the color of the clothing that you wear, the way that you organize your house, the way that you stand. Okay, Kimberly, she doesn’t want to stand with her shoulders bath and her head long and stack and feel confident, because she thinks that’s too pretentious. And that’s like showing too much of herself. So instead, my identity is that I should hide and play small. So now all of a sudden my spine starts to wrap up into this smaller position. And I kind of, I don’t look at people and that’s my new identity structure, and then the mold of my body gets stuck in that. And now I’m in prison in my physical tissue, and it makes me feel this certain way. So, for me to feel [crosstalk 00:31:22]-
Kimberly: It’s very introspective. Do you talk about that in the book, too?
Aaron Alexander: Yeah, the first chapter is called postural personality, just gets [inaudible 00:31:28] done five postural archetypes of, each one has a representation of the way that people think and feel and their lifestyle. [crosstalk 00:31:35].
Kimberly: It’s almost like the chicken before the egg, you start thinking that you are a certain person in your body morphs to it or your-
Aaron Alexander: It flows.
Kimberly: Your body comes, smaller and hunched, and then your personality can shift too.
Aaron Alexander: Yeah and/or your personality can shift and your body will come, whatever the relation is, it’s kind of the same road.
Kimberly: It’s powerful. It’s powerful to think that you can make that conscious choice about who you want to be, how you want to show up in the world.
Aaron Alexander: Yeah, it’s cool.
Kimberly: And your body can actually change. Have you seen some pretty dramatic changes in your work?
Aaron Alexander: Oh man. Yeah, absolutely. That’s it. So that’s the coolest thing is we getting to work with people and seeing I should say a woman or man. Seeing people a year later or two years later. And so you meet somebody and they have, often times kind of the things we’re just describing, then we do some, I do ralphing and different forms of manual therapy, his body work style, but I kind of teach him some exercises-
Kimberly: Some fascia work?
Aaron Alexander: Yeah, yeah, exactly. And then we’ve talked maybe about, we do end up talking about, the way that they think and feel and their work and how they show up in the world because all its associated and then come back and talk to them like, “oh man, I haven’t seen you for a year and a half.” And the glow in their face, their eyes are all lit up and they know they walk completely lights, when you see somebody, you see your friend, you don’t have to, they could be wearing a wet suit and a mask. You’d be, oh, no, I know that’s you, because I know how you walk.
Kimberly: It’s so true.
Aaron Alexander: I know your true personality is in your walk.
Kimberly: It’s true.
Aaron Alexander: Your personality is in your walk.
Aaron Alexander: Yeah. So when you see that person a year, two years later and you’re like, “oh it’s like not even you.” And he goes like, “oh yeah.” Kind of all my personality is kind of shifted as my walk and my [crosstalk 00:33:21].
Kimberly: The energy just comes through how you move.
Aaron Alexander: Yeah.
Kimberly: Wow. What I love about your method to Aaron is, here in our Selena community, we talk so much about going back to natural living, natural beauty products and natural food and just a whole lifestyle meditating being more still, but we don’t always think about incorporating more natural movement like sitting on the floor, which is an easy free thing for people to do, but you don’t really think oh, if I could move more naturally it would change, possibly my personality, my whole energy.
Aaron Alexander: Yeah, imminence and it’s like an entrance point into doing things like dancing or things like yoga or-
How important dancing is
Kimberly: Yeah, how important do you think dancing is?
Aaron Alexander: I think it’s probably the most important form of fitness.
Kimberly: Wow, are you big dancer?
Aaron Alexander: Yeah, I started dancing as an adult.
Kimberly: But you’re saying, unstructured dance not just choreographed, any kinds?
Aaron Alexander: Whatever, I think choreographed choreography, having taking specific, classical ballet or line dancing or we [crosstalk 00:34:24].
Kimberly: It could be freeform?
Aaron Alexander: It can be both. Yeah, I think it’s helpful to have, it’s like [Yenyong 00:34:28], so the structure is very helpful and informs that, those moments where you’re unstructured. It’s kind of like when you go to a, ecstatic dance or some kind of hippie type party painters, like people, their dance is kind of the same, it’s like, this flowy like [crosstalk 00:34:42].
Kimberly: Yes, yes.
Aaron Alexander: Kind of flow pattern over and over again. Well, they would actually be able to access even more depth within their flowy patterns, if they explored some linear practices to give them some structure. Yeah so it’s always-
Kimberly: The balance again, like you said?
Aaron Alexander: Yeah. So it’s always a balance of that linear structure can contain the airiness. When you meet somebody that’s too airy and they have no base of support, it’s kind of annoying. They come late to everything. And then they’re-
Kimberly: It’s too too much [crosstalk 00:35:16].
Aaron Alexander: Kind of stinky sometimes. And they’re, you have got to take care of your baselines.
Kimberly: Yeah. And maybe not always reliable sometimes, they forget things.
Aaron Alexander: Because your postures is representation of your personality.
Kimberly: Isn’t that interesting? So if you’re wishy washy, you’re saying that you don’t have that structure through your whole life?
Aaron Alexander: Yeah. So the posture archetype I gave that person, is the Bendy archetype in the book. So you break down five and I had an artist create these pictures with, lions expressing the way they think and feel, and it’s cool. It’s a fun thing.
Kimberly: What do you think my posture says?
Aaron Alexander: You’re darn good. You’re pretty darn alive.
Kimberly: I’m getting all out. So can I just [inaudible 00:35:51] around you reading my posture here.
Aaron Alexander: No, no, it’s fine. It’s good. No I think you’re doing a good job. I mean, you would fall probably more into, I’d be more curious here. So the archetypes are mopey. Mopey is the person who’s kind of like flat and trying to go forward, forehead posture and kind of… Yeah. So again, depression is number one leading cause of disability. So there’s a lot of mopeyness in our culture, we don’t necessarily realize. The other one would be anxious, the anxious archetype so that’s the person that’s kind of like, almost walking on eggshells, their shoulders are raised up, [inaudible 00:36:22] really fast and-
Kimberly: Very type A?
Aaron Alexander: Yeah, everything needs to be stacked up in align, I got to [crosstalk 00:36:27].
Kimberly: Oh, God.
Aaron Alexander: [inaudible 00:36:28] Muscles are like, oh, they’re like a little tight.
Kimberly: Oh, yeah.
Aaron Alexander: And then there’s the [Swal 00:36:35] archetype.
Aaron Alexander: Swal, yeah. Swal is where I come from, I’m kind of a combination like Swal and
Bendy. Swal is literally a word in the Webster’s dictionary, for being, puffed up big.
Kimberly: Oh, yeah, I don’t think that’s me.
Aaron Alexander: No, you’re not Swal at all. No, no, no. I’m just describing it. So Swal is the person that’s compensating with fitness.
Aaron Alexander: [crosstalk 00:36:57] the world. They’re strong and-
Kimberly: Big bodybuilder. Okay.
Aaron Alexander: So that’s the other person that just needs to, feels like they’re not good enough [inaudible 00:37:07] put slabs and muscle in their body. And that’s not to say that every body builder’s that way, it’s not saying that all. With anything it’s why you’re doing it not what you’re doing. [crosstalk 00:37:18] the time.
Kimberly: Sure. Could there be like the female, it maybe not so big but very tone, very perfect fitness body?
Aaron Alexander: Yeah, so that would be the test we’re wiling to-
Aaron Alexander: Yeah could be that or maybe that person might be kind of anxious. That feeling they always need to be going, going, going.
Kimberly: Doing enough.
Aaron Alexander: Yeah. I’m I enough, I’m I enough, I’m I enough. And then yeah, so Bendy is one I earlier described. Bendy is the super stretchy, new age type person that’s like [crosstalk 00:37:46].
Kimberly: That’s probably more me, Aaron. Bendy. Yeah.
Aaron Alexander: Yeah, that’s where you fall more. You’re like Bendy aligned.
Kimberly: And fifth is aligned?
Aaron Alexander: So everything else is kind of a combination.
Kimberly: Yeah, yeah, because I think that’s me. That’s how I dance.
Aaron Alexander: Yeah.
Kimberly: And I do love colors now.
Aaron Alexander: So for somebody like you, what I would recommend if you, wanted to say create more structure or something in your life. You’ve done something that you like. You’ve done a really good job with it. And it’s probably been something that, I would imagine having people around you that have helped structure and take your [crosstalk 00:38:17] ideas.
Kimberly: I do. Exactly. I have a team that is very grounded, because I am very Vata creative.
Aaron Alexander: Hence why you’re successful. If you didn’t have that team to structure your ideas, you would probably be a disaster, not a disaster but you’d be, you probably live in Bali and do yoga and you’d probably do great, actually. But you wouldn’t have this business and you wouldn’t have this impact. Because if you really [inaudible 00:38:39] for that person, that’s artistic and wants to throw color on the wall, let’s do yoga and dance [crosstalk 00:38:46].
Kimberly: I would in the mountains.
Aaron Alexander: And that sucks. That’s great, it’s amazing. But you’re probably not going to build an empire [crosstalk 00:38:56] stay close to the earth.
Kimberly: Correct. Correct. You need the balance.
Aaron Alexander: Well whatever you want. There’s no good or bad. There’s just what are you [inaudible 00:39:02] for?
Aaron Alexander: But when do you balance that, hence your husband. When you balance that, that yin yang [crosstalk 00:39:10].
Kimberly: Oh gosh, we’re such a balance.
Aaron Alexander: Yeah.
Kimberly: And by the way, if you decide to say that, Aaron is the one that introduced us. You, we, brought me to a dinner party where John and I met, so eternally grateful to you.
Aaron Alexander: [crosstalk 00:39:22] perfect example of that.
Kimberly: Yeah, he’s very, he’s not bendy, he probably falls a little bit into the Swal.
Aaron Alexander: Yeah, he’d be more Swal.
Kimberly: He’s a big guy and-
Aaron Alexander: But again, I think both of you fall into, aligned is the, the way they’re described in the book, is the archetype of the person that’s like free, in a sense. So he’s like, Ram Dass type language or more spiritual language. They’re not looking into the future. They’re not stuck in the past ruminating over what happened before, they’re not trying to prove anything to anybody. They just come to a room and like, this is me. [crosstalk 00:39:55].
Kimberly: That’s beautiful, beautiful and the freedom the, we say Aaron, we talked about true beauty a lot, which is so much more than physical. It’s an energetic state of being. It’s where you’re comfortable being yourself and you’re tapped into your uniqueness. So you’re describing where you can be aligned and feel that freedom of expression and not, going in extremes either way, where you can stable your body or create restriction.
Aaron Alexander: Yeah. Within all of those, there’s no one archetype that is the best or the worst like ideally, aligned is somewhere we’re all going, but again, if aligned’s like my branded word, so you can just call it free or centered or connected or integrated, any word that makes you feel comfortable. That’s [crosstalk 00:40:41].
Kimberly: Love it. I love aligned, I think you nailed it. Aligned to me means, it’s very yoga too, you align your heart, your thoughts, your mind, your words, your actions. [crosstalk 00:40:50]. Exactly. It’s beautiful.
Aaron Alexander: [inaudible 00:40:53].
Kimberly: And Aaron I want to congratulate, this book, I like that there is, you are such a creative. You have this part of you, that’s very theoretical, but it’s very practical. I mean, there’s a section here about, what to do when you’re driving. There’s so much information for all of us living day to day. So we can take that theory and actually take little tidbits and apply it. Which I think is important because if it’s, just theoretical, it’s not necessarily useful.
Aaron Alexander: Yeah, yeah. Too much. Alan Watts talked about, if you have too much spirit in an alcohol, then it’s just like, it’s too much. What was it? If It’s too much sweetness and flavors and all that stuff without the balance of the alcohol or the spirit. Then it’s like, oh it’s like too sweet. So it’s not good.
Aaron Alexander: So that’s the person that, just wants to party and wants to light fireworks, I’m like [inaudible 00:41:44]. But there’s no spirit to what [inaudible 00:41:48].
Aaron Alexander: But then you get the person’s like, too much spirit. They’re just like, all these crystals and sound balls and they’re, there’s like, “dude, we’re in a restaurant, relax.”
Aaron Alexander: [crosstalk 00:41:58] save anybody’s journey to enlightenment right now, just be a person that’s [crosstalk 00:42:03].
Kimberly: Be present. Exactly.
Aaron Alexander: Yeah, I think it’s a balance, the combination of the two.
Kimberly: Well, congratulations, Aaron, the Aligned Method. It is out this week. Where can we get it?
Aaron Alexander: Yeah, so if it’s before December 24th, 2020. thealignbook.com has all the links for all the [crosstalk 00:42:22] stuff.
Aaron Alexander: And then after that, it’s anywhere you can get books.
Kimberly: Amazing. Well, Aaron, thank you so much. We will link beauties in the show notes as well, directly to Aaron’s website, to the book, which is incredible. I have it in my hands right now. And I can not wait to incorporate some of these exercises. I actually have a band from you as well.
Aaron Alexander: Yes.
Kimberly: Which has helped my hip pain.
Aaron Alexander: Amazing.
Kimberly: Yeah, it’s really, really great. And it just feels really organic to me. Some stuff I don’t necessarily resonate with because it feels too, I don’t know, formal, but your method just, it’s all in alignment with what I believe about natural eating, and life and sitting on the floor. It’s just beautiful to learn the benefits. So thank you so much for sharing with us, Aaron.
Aaron Alexander: Of course.
Kimberly: We love having you on the podcast.
Aaron Alexander: Yeah, I appreciate that.
Kimberly: Have a-
Aaron Alexander: I [inaudible 00:43:10] have to have you back on Align podcast and whatever.
Kimberly: Yes. And Aaron has a wonderful podcast that I’ve been on, two beauties, we will link to it. It is the Align podcast. I guess it was like a year and half ago, two years ago when we first met. Yeah, we got to bring it back full circle.
Aaron Alexander: Right back girl.
Kimberly: All right, Aaron. Well, thank you so much, again. Thank you beauties for tuning in. Remember to check out the links for Aaron and the show notes will link to some other shows and some other resources you may be interested in. Take great care of yourself. We’ll be back here Thursday for our next q&a podcast. Until then, take care and so much love.