Reset Your Mind with Movement with Aaron Alexander
"[Fitness] It truly is the Fountain of Youth."
How can movement help you reset your mind?
As promised, we will be continuing the conversation around what it takes to reset our brains during these uncertain times.
This week, I’m very happy to welcome back my good friend and movement coach, Aaron Alexander. Aaron is also a manual therapist, author of The Align Method, and host of Apple Podcasts #1 ranked show in Nutrition, the Align Podcast.
In this episode, Aaron suggests that we have more control over our autonomic nervous system than we think. By using simple strategies around breathing, eye movement, and body language, he teaches us how to regain control and make progress throughout each day.
HOW IT WORKS
- For the most part, Western culture is consumed by screentime. It’s not immoral — bad or good, it just is.
- The amount of time we spend on screens might average five or six hours each day depending on who you are.
- Very few people realize that your eyes are a continuation of your central nervous system.
- When we are using our eyes, we are tuning our minds — our autonomic nervous system.
- When we are focused in with myopic vision, it puts us more into the executive function where cortisols and norepinephrine are released. In other words, we are experiencing what Alex describes as “fight, flight, get after it.”
- Fight or flight are responses of your sympathetic nervous system, which is great! You want that when you first wake up in the morning or when there is a metaphoric lion in the room and you need to move.
- The point is, the sympathetic nervous system is an extremely valuable system, but for the most part we spend too much time in that overdrive position.
- With the way we use our eyes, we are focused in too much. Whereas when we are using panoramic vision, we are able to relax our eyes and take in the entirety of the space we are in.
- Instead of having an isolated, focused vision, come out into an expansive view.
- When you put yourself into broad view positions (imagine being on top of a mountain and looking all around) you become more relaxed and could even feel safer.
- That panoramic view helps us to downregulate our nervous system to rest, digest, and calm into a parasympathetic state.
- If we allow ourselves to be malleable in the present Western model, it will paint us into a corner of stress.
- You may think of your autonomic nervous system as something you don’t have control over — it’s auto, right? Wrong.
- You can control your autonomic nervous system by setting the temperature in the room, playing certain music, manipulating the air quality, changing the types of lights you have, or paying attention to how you use your eyes.
- All of those things send signals to your whole physiology, like a rudder changing the direction of your boat, in this case, your nervous system.
DEREGULATE & RESET
- Take in information in bites. Have moments where you look at your screen to gather the information you need, but then ask yourself if you need to remain focused on the screen.
- If you have been focusing on screens all day long, in all likelihood and for the health of your nervous system, you don’t need to be looking at a screen any longer.
- Take little breaks away from the screen.
- If you are listening, watching, or reading right now, take a moment to take a break. Instead of focusing on whatever you were focusing on, sit back, relax your eyes, and take in everything around you.
- Notice this might create change in your felt state. You might already feel calmer.
- If you want to further calm the nervous system, you can emphasize your exhalation.
- Exhalation is another one of those toggles that you can switch on to “get stuff done overdrive” and then you can switch it back to downregulation, calm, rest, restore.
- The way to switch to downregulation is through breathing in deeply and emphasizing your exhale.
- Having worked with clients on movement for 14 plus years, Alex realized it started to shift beyond weight loss and body sculpting. It became more about seamlessly integrating the concept of fitness into who you are all across the day, as opposed to being something compartmentalized into 45 minutes, 3 days per week.
- Begin to use some of these basic principles by acknowledging that the way you breathe, look with your eyes, and gesticulate are branches of your fitness.
- In places like Italy, for example, they are “fitnessing” themselves all day long just in their communication patterns. They are literally tuning their nervous system by the manner in which they are using their hands, feet, and facial expressions just to hale a cab.
- Bring those principles into your daily life and then fitness never has to stop. It truly is the Fountain of Youth.
- If you can make these principles who you are instead of a thing that you do, you will become forever vital.
- Buckminster Fuller coined the term “tensegrity structure” to show that the integrity of something is determined by the balance of the tension members.
- If you pull on any one part of a tensegrity structure, the whole system is affected.
- For instance, you can’t affect any part of Jim without affecting every part of Jim and Jim’s relationships, and the manner in which he lives in his home and business.
- So if I impact my vision, that impacts my breath, the way I produce chemicals, and hormones.
- In the same way, if I take a hormone supplement, it impacts my breath and my vision.
- Alex explains how his significant other is impacted by changes caused by birth control. It can cause people to become totally different in movement and expression.
- You pull on someone’s hormone lever and they can begin to walk, converse, and think differently.
- If you do breath practice or hip mobility work, it could start to impact the way that you communicate, which would trickle through the rest of your life.
BODY LANGUAGE SPEAKS
- Besides the visual component and breath, the third lever to help deregulate your nervous system is body language.
- Acknowledge that we communicate via the 38/55/7 principle. Seven percent of our communication is the words that we say, 38% is the tone of our voice, and 55% is our body language and other subconscious subtleties.
- The majority of our communication is done through body language.
- Begin to pay attention and audit your body language. Take notice if your shoulders are creeping up to your ears or rolled forward and hunched over.
- Just paying attention to that position will tell you something about your state.
- If you were an animal and saw another animal moving that way throughout nature, you would know that the animal is sick, afraid, defeated, or defending.
- If you see another animal whose shoulders are back, organs are open, and lungs are expanded, you would sense that the animal is winning. They are operating in the benefit of their biology. They look strong and capable.
- You can begin to check your shoulders and the shape of your spine. Do you have a forward head posture? Check your knees in relation to your feet, are you knees collapsing into a valgus position? How’s relationship hips, to knees, to feet? How’s your breathing? Do you feel relaxed and calm? Are your eyes squinting and contracting?
- Doing this will immediately change your state. It could increase the chances of you getting the job you want or attracting that potential partner.
- Ultimately, if you feel good in your physical home (body), life gets better.
SHARE WITH US
- Take a screenshot of this episode, tag me on social media (@JimKwik & @AlignPodcast), and share your greatest “aha!” moment from this episode with us.
- When was the last time you took an eye break? Tag us and let us know!
- Get The Align Method, here.
- Check out the Align Podcast, here.
- Sign up for The Align Method 6-week program, here.
Related Kwik Brain Episodes You Might Enjoy
Episode 200: Five Steps to RESET Your Brain
Episode 198: Optimizing Your Stress Response with Dr. Greg Kelly
Episode 148: Mastering Body Language with Aaron Alexander
Episode 065: Movements that Bood Brain Performance with Aaron Alexander