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Friends of Six Senses with Aaron Alexander

Wellness Pioneer Anna Bjurstam talks with Aaron about everything from eye exercises that can reduce the impact of too much screen-time to micro-movements we can do throughout the day that help sharpen our minds, increase energy, and become more in tune with ourselves.

Posture and Personality

According to Aaron, the shape of our bodies is highly molded by the environments that we inhabit. Whether it’s a desk chair, an airplane seat, or the shoes we wear, these forms influence not only our posture and the shape of our body but how we think and feel as well. As humans, we may feel that we are controlling our environments, but actually the environments we have created are now shaping us.

How does our posture inform the way we think and feel? Aaron shared that not only does our posture impact our muscles and physical structures but it can also change our hormonal and endocrine systems. Certain positions can become cues or signals that tell our minds how to feel. For example, when we’re in a collapsed, hunched over position (aka scrolling Facebook on our phone), we will tend to feel more defeated. When we stand tall with our front bodies open, we will feel more powerful and successful.

Six Senses Mature Couple Running is

Stress-busting Movements

Aaron shared that there are many schools of thought about the “best” way to move but in his opinion, there is no “right” way. It could be running or gardening or walking the dog. The bottom line is just to move and it’s up to each of us to discover what feels best. Not everyone should do HIIT or yoga. We all need to find the kind of exercise that feels good, preferably happens outside and that brings pleasure and joy.

Outside is important because sunlight is so beneficial for our eyes, especially as an antidote to hours spent in front of a screen. Also, the larger horizons that we see outdoors give our eyes a chance to look farther and wider than they can indoors. This has a very different impact on our nervous systems than just staring at the four walls of our kitchen or living room.

Because our visual systems are tied to our emotional states, when we can expand our fields of vision, our nervous systems drop into parasympathetic mode, which is how we relax.

The Five Daily Movements

Aaron also gave us the five daily movements from his book, The Align Method, that are at the heart of what he believes are essential to a healthy body. They were designed, he said, to demystify fitness and make it really simple for people to optimize their health.

#1 Start hanging.

Raise your arms over your head and grab a tree branch or a pull up bar. It’s simple to install one in a doorway at home. This lengthens your spine and restructures the shape of your shoulder girdle, which is crucial if you spend most of the day on the computer. This simple movement of hanging decompresses and unwinds all these patterns.

#2 Hinge from your hips.

A lot of people use their backs when they should be using their hips to pick up objects from the ground. For example, when you bend over to pick up a bag on the floor, do you curve your back, having your back do your hips’ job? Instead, when you’re leaning down, drive your butt back and maintain length and a straight spine from the top of your head to your sacrum. Really hinge at your hips when you go down. This way you pick up something from the ground with your whole body instead of just one part of your body. When you use your whole body to do things, you can more easily avoid injury.

#3 Walk!

Scientists believe that hunter-gatherers walked an average of 8 to 14 kilometers per day. Our bodies were designed to walk. Not only is it a full-body exercise but it increases circulation by moving the lymphatic system. Often, people feel like they need to do something really hard to exercise well but walking outside is one of the best exercises for you. Bring a friend or take that work call on the road!

#4 Sit on the floor

Although a chair can seem to be a very benign object, it negatively impacts our posture and the shape of our bodies. Young children naturally prefer the floor and for good reason. Not only is squatting down or sitting on the floor valuable for your pelvic muscles but getting down and up again is surprisingly good exercise and an easy way to layer more movement into your day.

#5 Nasal Breathing

When you are nervous or afraid, do you tend to hold your breath? If you were running from a tiger, wouldn’t you be panting? Breathing patterns are cues to your nervous system about whether or not you’re safe. Because you breathe through your nose when you are calm, nasal breathing is one of the best tricks to calm the nervous system when you are upset and stop the cascade of stress hormones. Stress hormones like cortisol create a lot of wear and tear on the body so nasal breathing is a simple way you can cultivate healthier internal chemistry.

BIO

Aaron Alexander CR, LMT is a pioneering manual therapist and movement coach with over sixteen years of professional experience. His clients range from A-list Hollywood celebrities to professional athletes and everyone in between. He is the author of The Align Method and over the last five years, Aaron has interviewed more than three hundred of the world's preeminent thought leaders on physical and psychological well-being on the top-rated Align Podcast. Alignpodcast.com


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