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episode #318

Interview with Yogi Aaron: Stop Stretching and Start Activating!

January 2, 2024 in Podcast


This week I interviewed Yogi Aaron!

Yogi Aaron is a trailblazing yoga teacher who is leading a global rebellion against the harmful practice of stretching. He pioneered the groundbreaking approach to yoga that shows people how to live pain-free by activating muscles through Applied Yoga Anatomy + Muscle Activation™ (AYAMA).

In this episode, we discuss how certain stretches can do more harm than good along with:

  • How yoga helped him overcome ADD
  • Why you shouldn't stretch your hamstrings
  • What is the number one yoga pose you should avoid
  • His Blue Osa Yoga Retreat in Costa Rica
and his one tip to get your body back to what it once was!

Brian (0s):

Coming up on the Get Lean Eat Clean podcast.

Aaron (4s):

If one Muscle is tight, it's because the opposite muscle isn't shortening properly, is not connected to the brain, doesn't have that ability to contract and contract on demand. So in my case, you know, and you think that 25 years later I ended up in the surgeon's office with him telling me I was going to need a spinal fusion. What was weak in me was my hip flexors. What is the number one hip flexor? The SOAs major? So the SOAs major is, is one of the most important muscles to stabilize the lumbar spine. To keep that curve of the lumbar spine, my curve was compromised. Compromised, which is why I ended up with a disc herniation in my lower back.

Aaron (47s):

So what you shouldn have been doing was focused on activating my hip flexors. Had I done that when I was 18, I would've saved, you know, years and years of, of trauma

Brian (1m 1s):

Hello. and welcome to the Get Lean Eat Clean podcast. I'm Brian Gryn and I'm here to give you actionable tips to get your body back to what it once was, five, 10, even 15 years ago. Each week I'll give you an in depth interview with a health expert from around the world to cut through the fluff and get you long term sustainable results. This week I interviewed Yogi Aaron. Yogi Aaron is a trailblazing yoga teacher who is leading a global rebellion against the harmful practice of stretching. He pioneered the groundbreaking approach to yoga that shows people how to live pain free by activating muscles through Yoga, Anatomy and Muscle Activation techniques.

Brian (1m 42s):

We discussed how certain stretches can do more harm than good, along with How yoga helped him overcome ADD DD Why you shouldn't stretch your hamstrings. What is the number one yoga pose. you should avoid his blue Osa yoga Retreat in Costa Rica and his one tip to get your body back to what it once was. Really enjoyed my Interview with Yogi Aaron. I know you will too. Thanks so much for listening and enjoy the show. All, right Welcome to the Get Lean Eat Clean podcast. My name is Brian Gryn and I have Yogi Aaron on Welcome to the show.

Aaron (2m 14s):

Thanks so much for having me on. Brian.

Brian (2m 17s):

It could be my first Yogi I've had on the show, so should feel honored. You're coming from Costa Rica, right?

Aaron (2m 29s):

Yes, I have a Yoga Retreat Center in Costa Rica and that's why I ended up moving here. We're just coming into 15 years of being open.

Brian (2m 40s):


Aaron (2m 40s):

Wow. So that's what I do here.

Brian (2m 43s):

Sounds like a nice place to do that from.

Aaron (2m 47s):

It's beautiful. Yeah, I live on the beach, you know, surrounded by rainforest, one of the most biodiverse places on the planet. And so we're really blessed with a lot, lot of life and beautiful weather.

Brian (3m 3s):

Yeah. And, what made you wanna create this re Retreat and sort of get into, I guess maybe give the audience, I, I know your background a little bit just from some research I've done, but maybe give the audience a little bit of, of your background of how you got into Yoga and then what made you sort of start this Retreat?

Aaron (3m 22s):

Yeah, sure. I, I'll try and keep it as short as possible 'cause it's a long-winded story, but I got into, the short answer is I got into yoga when I was 18. I thought it was important to stretch at the time, so that's why I got into it. And as I got more and more into Yoga, I just became more of a serious teacher. I, the, the whole spiritual part of it really started to affect me in a lot of positive ways. I think that Yoga the practice of yoga, not the practice of stretching, the practice of yoga, helps you to become more aligned with your life purpose. And that is a very true statement.

Aaron (4m 4s):

With me, my purpose led me to New York, which is a kind of a weird place to go. But I ended up there, started a yoga studio and started leading Yoga retreats. And on one of those yoga retreats I was in Costa Rica driving down a dirt road, saw a century 21 signs outside this property, looked inside the property And, you know, within a short distance I saw the C or this, the beautiful turquoise color of the ocean. And I just felt like it calling me to home. And already I had been thinking about opening up something for people who were yoga enthusiasts and this just seemed like a natural logical step.

Aaron (4m 54s):

So here we are, year 15.

Brian (4m 59s):

Well I will say I've, yoga's been a part of my life for a long time, ever since I, well, I got into lifting at a fairly young age and then I realized I needed something to like balance it out. But like you said, I think people get into yoga maybe 'cause they think they need to stretch more and they end up realizing that it's just much more than that. It's just a way to like stay present, focus on your breath and like, I'm a big golfer and I coach golf and I always emphasize for the kids to get into yoga, not even for necessarily, and we'll talk about it, not even because of the stretching aspect, but more just sort of the, the mental side of it and Yes.

Brian (5m 45s):

you know, so I'm trying to get my wife into Yoga and, and because it's, it's not so easy. Usually

Aaron (5m 52s):

It's the wife trying to get her husband into yoga. That's funny.

Brian (5m 56s):

Yeah, no, it's the other way around. you know, mindfulness, I think everyone should have some of it in their lives and if they can't do it, if they don't wanna meditate on their own and they wanna do sort of a movement meditation, I just think yoga's sort of that perfect channel for that.

Aaron (6m 11s):

Yeah, I, I mean I was somebody who was afflicted quite a lot actually by sometimes what we call a DD these days. I don't know if I, you know, was a DD or not, but I definitely showed all the symptoms of it. And it was in my right around the time I started doing yoga, I just started noticing I was much more focused, much more productive. I could get more things done. Usually I'm the type of person, obviously if you have a DD, that your attention is in like a thousand different areas. And I just found like I, I could harness the power of concentration much more effortlessly.

Aaron (6m 55s):

And so that, that was what started triggering me to realize that there was something more to this Yoga business than just, you know, doing some postures.

Brian (7m 8s):

And it's interesting 'cause you have a book called Stop Stretching, which is sort of a bit ironic. Yes. Coming from a Yoga instructor and we're gonna get into that. What made you switch from, I know your journey went from, you know, learning yoga to getting more into like Muscle Activation and realizing that maybe not every muscle is meant to be stretched.

Aaron (7m 31s):

Yeah, I, well I would just say that no muscle is meant to be stretched, but we can get into why. Okay. Okay.

Brian (7m 37s):

Yeah, we can talk about that. we can talk about that. Yeah.

Aaron (7m 42s):

Yogi, stop. Stretching, I, so I got into yoga 'cause I was starting to develop old man syndrome at the age of 18, you know, as a very athletic kid, snowshoe dog, sled canoe, And, you know, the backwaters of Northern Canada, et cetera, et cetera. Cross country runner. And I just started getting really tight. And so I got into yoga to stay youthful and stay healthy. When I say yoga, it really means Stretching at that moment And what happened very quickly, actually I ended up hurting my back quite profoundly.

Aaron (8m 22s):

And I thought to myself, huh, this is not a good sign. I guess I need to stretch more. And so I double,

Brian (8m 31s):

Double down proceeded.

Aaron (8m 32s):

Yeah, I double tripled, quadrupled down every time I would go to a yoga teacher. It was interesting Brian, 'cause at that moment I developed an ego, you know, and a self-identity of beings of someone who has back problems. And that's kind of how I, you know, interface with life from then on. And every time I go to yoga teacher, I would tell them I have back problems. And they would say, well we need to stretch more. you know, your tight hamstrings are cau causing your back problems. And what's kind of fascinating to me, And, you know, you're a fitness enthusiast as well, that you, you know, never once do we ever ask the question why are the muscles tight to begin with.

Aaron (9m 19s):

And, you know, in the 25 years that led up to a moment, a dramatic moment for me. Not one yoga teacher, not one ever could tell me the function of muscles or why muscles were tight. And, and the, I know when I say not one teacher, I mean very prominent, very prestigious, knowledgeable, quote unquote yoga teachers. And I just find that really fascinating. And so my journey of those 25 years, I had a lot of chronic pain. I had knee issues, I had neck and shoulder issues. In fact, by the age of around 31, 32, I started developing severe neck pain where I had pain that would shoot from my neck down into my fingers of my arm.

Aaron (10m 7s):

And I would wake up in the middle of the night like someone was ding Dr sorry, digging a dagger into my scapula. And I eventually ended up in the hospital after 25 years with an orthopedic surgeon telling me that I was gonna need a spinal fusion in my lower back. And that was a moment that everything shifted. That was like the light bulb moment. 'cause it forced me to accept that what I was doing wasn't working. Then I had to ask the question, why wasn't it working? And that journey led me into the whole practice of Muscle Activation. So I went from there to study Muscle Activation technique, which is taught by Greg Rosoff out of Denver, Colorado.

Aaron (10m 57s):

And that whole practice is about identifying where those problems, for lack of better words right now in the body and going in and fixing those problems by getting the muscles to start working better AK activated. And so most of us, you know, are walking around with muscles that just are not communicating properly with the brain. And I just wanna kind of pause just mostly because of your background And, what you do, and I think you'll identify with this statement that when I started working out in the gym, you know, the proper way to prepare for working out was actually to do isometrics was to work with smaller amounts of weight, usually not a lot and do a lot of reps, but do them very slowly and then move on to the bigger ones.

Aaron (11m 52s):

And, and there was, you know, that reasoning was to prepare the muscles. And, and from a Muscle Activation standpoint, what you're doing is you're reinforcing that communication system between the brain and the Muscle so that the Muscle can contract and contract on demand. And so Greg defines muscles that are working properly by a muscle that can contract and contract on demand. And most of us are walking around with muscles that are not contracting properly. And so what do muscles do? They stabilize joints and move bones and they do that by shortening. So I kind of went through the Muscle Activation training and quickly realized nobody was translating this into Yoga.

Aaron (12m 38s):

And that's where I came in and started to take the Muscle Activation and make it applicable into a yoga practice. And that's how I came up with a AYAMA applied Yoga Anatomy and Muscle Activation. Because one of the biggest problems in the Yoga world specifically, but I'm gonna say a lot of movement modalities, is that people just don't understand or have any knowledge of muscle function or biomechanics of the body. Like if you said to people, well what is that movement? Well that's trunk flexion. Well what is trunk flexion? They can't answer you. Or if you say, well what muscles are dictating trunk flexion?

Aaron (13m 19s):

They can't tell you that. They can't tell you what muscles are dictating hip flexion And, what hip flexors do. And so I just, that's where the applied part of it comes from. And then of course the Muscle. Activation.

Brian (13m 32s):

Yeah. And I've learned a quite a bit from actually a gentleman out of New York, Brent Rbu, I dunno if you know Brent r Bush. Okay. He, he's, he's becoming I think bigger and bigger in the sort of physical therapy space. And I've gone to some of his trainings and he was like one of the first people, this was years ago that was pretty much teaching that you shouldn't stretch your hamstrings because your hamstrings are actually a long muscle. And he taught a lot about just releasing certain muscles like adductors and, and your hamstrings as opposed to necessarily needing to stretch them so much. Yeah.

Brian (14m 13s):

And so I've learned a lot from him. A lot of times, like if we just take like your calves, most people's calves, you know, are typically short or tight And, you know, releasing those and then perhaps Stretching them could be of benefit. But like, and I'm, I'm curious to know your thoughts on that. But when you talk about like activating, you know, with golf, we always hear, and I and I, a lot of, with my clients, we try to activate your glutes, right? We want our glutes to fire, which is really important for, you know, getting up and down and doing a lot of the daily things that you don't even think of. And most people don't know how to actually activate their glutes. So anyways, those are just some of my thoughts on, on on those things.

Brian (14m 57s):

And so like a lot of times when I do yoga classes, I'll just do certain things. Not all of 'em. Like I won't sit there and do some of the poses that are like, I think stretching hamstrings when you really probably don't need to do that.

Aaron (15m 13s):

So there's a lot to unpack there. Remind me golf, 'cause I wanna come back to that thing about what you should be working on with golf. 'cause I'm interested the glutes in story. Okay and the calves, right. And, but the first thing I wanna just say is like, so the question is why are muscles tight? And the answer is actually quite simple and then it takes a while to understand it, but it's tight muscles tightening is the body's response to instability. So it's a protective mechanism in the body. And, you know, a good example of that is if you walk on ice and you step out on ice, what are you gonna do?

Aaron (15m 57s):

What does your body do? It tightens up. So us tightening up is a protective mechanism. If you go see a scary movie, you go, oh, and then you, your body tightens up. So it's a protective mechanism in the case of the hamstrings, you know, the, the hamstrings are tightening up because other muscles aren't doing their job. And so because the body senses instability, it just sends out an SOS tighten up, tighten up, tighten up And, what you shouldn have been doing. 'cause I actually got into yoga 'cause my hamstrings were so tight, that was an area that was, you know, the tightest. And so I spent the next 25 years trying to elongate my hamstrings and which ended up making the problem worse, not better because I was never addressing the weakness.

Aaron (16m 46s):

So what was weak? Well one of the fundamental things that a lot of, and I'm gonna just say a lot of movement specialists forget this basic fact about muscles is that muscles always work in pairs. And so you have an agonist and an antagonist. If one muscle is shortening the opposite, Muscle is lengthening. If one muscle is tight it's because the opposite muscle isn't shortening properly, is not connected to the brain, doesn't have that ability to contract and contract on demand. So in my case, you know, and you think that 25 years later I ended up in the surgeon's office with him telling me I was going to need a spinal fusion.

Aaron (17m 28s):

What was weak in me was my hip flexors. What is the number one hip flexor? The SOAs major? So the SOAs major is, is one of the most important muscles to stabilize the lumbar spine, to keep that curve of the lumbar spine. My curve was compromised. Compromised, which is why I ended up with a disc herniation in my lower back. So what you shouldn have been doing was focused on activating my hip flexors. Had I done that when I was 18, I would've saved, you know, years and years of, of trauma. To your question about the hand, the the calf muscles, what I have found to be often true is the calves tighten up because the calves start mimicking, you know, hip extension.

Aaron (18m 14s):

So what, what is, what is the major hip flexor, sorry, hip extensor. We're looking at glutes. Glutes. So if the glutes aren't working properly, what's the next hip extensor hamstrings. If the hamstrings aren't working properly and if they're tight by the way, that's also a good sign that they're not activated, that they're not working. So you don't have glute function, you don't have hamstringing function. What's gonna take over calfs? and we see this a lot with runners. They have chronically tight calf muscles because their glutes just aren't working properly. I think with golfing it's a great thing to get the glutes working and definitely you want the glutes working.

Aaron (18m 58s):

It's, I mean, getting the glutes working. The glutes are the suspension system of the body. So you think about like a truck driving, you know, down a dirt road without shocks, the axle is gonna break and the axle in most people's body ends up being the lower back or the knees and sometimes ankles. So if the glutes aren't working, you're gonna have problems in the axle of the body. But the thing I wanted to also just kind of put out there, 'cause you are a golf pro, is

Brian (19m 29s):

That, well I'm not a pro, but I love golf. You love golf. I'll take it, I'll take it. Yeah.

Aaron (19m 33s):

But Greg tells this story of him working with this guy who was a golf pro is a golf pro, and I don't recall his name, but he had a frozen shoulder. So he went to Greg and he was like, Hey, what can you do about my frozen shoulder? Greg did a range of motion assessment with this guy and found that the guy's trunk rotators weren't working. So if you think about what you do in golf, if these guys aren't contracting properly, the stress is gonna move up or down. In this case it moved up into his shoulder, so his shoulder was compensating for the trunk rotation.

Aaron (20m 14s):

So that's, that's a great place to also work is getting the trunk rotators working the obliques and the tva a yeah, just wanna put that out there.

Brian (20m 22s):

Yeah, no, and I mean you always hear too, like thoracic spine, right? You need, you want like thoracic spine mobility and then, which is like upper, upper, upper back. And then, but as far as like the glutes, if you're thinking to yourself, well how do I know if I'm like activating my glutes? A lot of times with clients I'll have them do like, even just like a bridge, a simple bridge, maybe even put a band around your knees or just above the knees and you can, you can just take your thumb and feel like what's, what's being like fired? Are my glutes firing or are are my hamstrings taking it? You really want your glutes to be firing at that point.

Aaron (20m 59s):

Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. So go ahead. Doing glute exercises is so important and keep, keep, keep preaching on that bandwagon.

Brian (21m 10s):

I'll, I'll, and it is refreshing to see like a yoga instructor get into this because I always found that, you know, I, it's like I go into yoga and, and, and I think a, there are some poses that are that I really do enjoy a lot of the side bending. I, you know, it's, it's, it's, it's just there are plenty of poses that I think are applicable and, and as long as you don't overdo it, I think like staying in your own, like staying in your own boundaries and not trying to like overdo over. That's what, that's always my thought in in any yoga class is I don't need to try to be, be better than anyone around me because everyone's at their own little, on their own little level. So you've been teaching, so you created a certification correct.

Brian (21m 53s):

Through, is that right? Through the Muscle Activation and sort of your applied yoga practice?

Aaron (22m 1s):

Yeah, absolutely. I mean the biggest, I think what drives me is helping others become pain-free. 'cause I spent so many much of my life dealing with chronic pain to the point where I actually ended up in an emergency room. And I am just really passionate about a couple of things. One is to help people become pain-free. 'cause so many people are turning to yoga to get out of pain and, and they're not, I mean they're kind of getting a bandaid fix, but then the pain always comes back with a vengeance or they end up causing a problem in a different area of their body. I've created the certification to help people get out of pain, but also to give people access to an easy to understand Anatomy like to learn about their bodies.

Aaron (22m 54s):

Sure. Like what is forward flex, what are my trunk flexors, what are my hip flexors and why is it important to, to understand them, what do they actually do in my body? And to also understand like if I've got knee pain, what do I do if I've got knee pain? Well go back to the teachings. What is, what did Yogi Aaron say about knee pain? Well, what muscles are connected to the knees? What do we need to activate, you know, to get rid of, to get those muscles working properly, to reduce the stress at that joint? So, you know, people to understand what is causing the pain is usually a symptom of stress.

Aaron (23m 37s):

So stress creates inflammation and if we reduce the stress at that joint, AKA get the muscles to start working properly, this, the inflammation just goes away very quickly. So that's what that's for is to get people learning about their bodies and then starting to be able to help themselves.

Brian (23m 59s):

What would you say the number one pose that people should maybe avoid in Yoga?

Aaron (24m 7s):


Brian (24m 8s):

To know what you, I have some favorite poses of mine. Yeah. But I'm curious to know what, what that would be.

Aaron (24m 16s):

So to understand like when we're Stretching what are we doing? We're forcing muscles to either elongate beyond, you know, you think about stretching passively ak like, I'm folding forward over my leg, I can't reach my foot, but I'm gonna use a strap around my foot and pull myself forward. Or if I'm standing, I'm gonna fold forward and allow gravity to pull me forward. So, we start moving, we start bypassing that neuromuscular connection and we're now forcing muscles to elongate. And it's important to understand that when those muscles elongate and go beyond their capacity, it's gonna have a reciprocal effect on the muscles that are contracting So.

Aaron (25m 3s):

we lose proprioception, we lose connection to those muscles. And it's, I that's kind of a, a tricky word for a lot of people to understand, but proprioception is when your, basically, when your brain or your central nervous system knows where your body is in space. So when you stretch a muscle, your nervous system doesn't know where those muscles are in space anymore. And it takes a while for that information to start coming back to normal. And the older we get and if we've had more injuries, the more the our age, our amount of injuries, the amount of stress that we have in our life dictates the amount of time that's gonna take.

Aaron (25m 45s):

So for some of us, it may never come back until we do some Muscle Activation. So I kind of wanna just put that out there first before I say that the worst pose that we can do in yoga is one that's gonna surprise a lot of people, but it's child's pose.

Brian (26m 1s):

Oh my god. Really?

Aaron (26m 3s):


Brian (26m 3s):

I'm surprised you said that.

Aaron (26m 6s):

Yeah, it's the worst pose to do.

Brian (26m 8s):

I like child's pose.

Aaron (26m 10s):

I know so many people love child's pose and it feels good. I

Brian (26m 14s):

Well my thought though, I'm curious. Okay, go ahead. So yeah,

Aaron (26m 19s):

What's your thought?

Brian (26m 22s):

Well the one thing about child's pose is most people are an, are like an anterior pelvic tilt most of the day, right? And so when you get into child pose it sort of puts you in sort of a posterior tilt and, but I never thought of it as actually a pose that could necessarily be harmful. you know, maybe you get a little bit of a, a lat and, and chest stretch if your arms are extended. So I'm, I'm, I'm, yeah, I'm just, I'm surprised you said that one.

Aaron (26m 54s):

Well, but you know, I would kind of disagree with a couple of those statements just because if you look at the way people are sitting most of the day they're actually, their spine is in a HyperFlex position, especially in their lower back. Sure. Just the way that we sit, we sit in a flex state, especially if we're hunched over our laptop or our iPhone or mo you know, mobile phone. So that's the first problem is that in child's pose we're actually reinforcing a behavior that's already within our nervous system. The problem is like when we're in a position, our nervous system starts to hold us in that position until we do something to change that.

Aaron (27m 41s):

And there's, that's a other discussion, but child's pose is reinforcing this kind of over flex position already that our lower back is in. I just kind of also wanna say too, I'm not like, I don't know how much I really buy into this whole, like you need to have, you know, you've got too much of an anterior tilt. I think that part, that's a whole other discussion. we can have that in a moment if you want, but I, I think that all of us come into this and we need to get that curve into our lumbar spine, number one. Number two, we need to get the muscle supporting that curve. If we look at the nature of child's pose, you know, we're now putting the spine into that flex pose, but we're also overstretching all the muscles in our back.

Aaron (28m 30s):

We're also now shortening really over shortening our hip flexors. And we're also, you know, then having a, we're we're lengthening our glute muscles over lengthening our glute muscles. So all of these muscles in a passive state are becoming affected and therefore they're going to not work properly afterwards and they're all gonna shut down. In my case, when I ended up in the hospital, it was because I had a herniated disc. And so if somebody, you know, one of the rules I have now whenever I'm teaching yoga or working with anybody is I always assume you have a herniated disc or you will have a herniated disc or you're going, you know, you have the body that's gonna lead you there.

Aaron (29m 17s):

And so from that perspective, I just always try and think of how can I support the curve of that lumbar spine? How can I make sure that that lumbar spine is really supportive? So that's number one. I wanna keep the curve there to some degree. Number two, I also wanna make sure that the muscles that are supporting the lumbar spine are getting activated and working properly.

Brian (29m 43s):

Okay. Okay.

Aaron (29m 45s):


Brian (29m 45s):

Hip flexors, hip flexors, I I believe hip flexors, most people obviously 99% of people, they're short and tight. Right. So, sure. I would imagine that just doing like a kneeling hip flexor stretch is beneficial.

Aaron (30m 4s):

A kneeling

Brian (30m 6s):


Aaron (30m 6s):

Hip stretch. So just a couple of things then. First of all, so a tight muscle is always a sign that a muscle isn't working properly. So if you want Muscle to start working properly, I would just say like if you try to stretch it, it's not going to deal with that tightness. The tightness is again a protective mechanism. And so that's one point. Another point is you might, I don't know if you knew this or not, but the hip flexor, the SOAs is an antagonist to the glutes.

Aaron (30m 47s):

So if we get the glutes working very true there. Yeah. Right by, by by reciprocation the, the SOAs will release, if you want to use that word or let go, it will relax. So a muscle will not relax until the opposite muscle is engaging. But here's the other cool thing 'cause you're, you were talking about glute so much that if you get the SOAs to contract properly, the glutes then as reciprocation start working properly. So that's a really good way in to deal with a lot of problems in people's bodies. Whether we're looking at hip pain and or back pain, just getting those two muscles working is gonna help people so much and getting them to contract properly.

Aaron (31m 35s):

I also just want to add one more point that I was on the bandwagon for that 25 years of elongating my SOAs. I mean I have pictures of me, you know, in these deep SOAs stretches and again

Brian (31m 49s):

Hospital and the soaz is a top muscle hospital. Yeah, I was gonna say the SOAs is, is very, is very deep right within almost like the abdomen, right? Like it's tough to get, like I know there's some of these devices out there that I'm not a fan of where you like literally no lay on these things to try to, to try to release your SOAs. I mean that can, who knows, you know, that's could be dangerous. What are some, what are some Muscle Activation techniques that'll sort of help keep people pain free?

Aaron (32m 19s):

Absolutely. I just wanna say one more thing about stretching too. 'cause you just said like, you know, people are always doing these things to their SOAs and they'll never, you know, until you deal with the source of the tightness, the tightness will never go away. You can make yourself feel good in the moment and if you ask a lot of yoga teachers, you know why you should stretch. So many yoga teachers come back and say, well it feels good. And my response is, just because you can doesn't always mean you should, there's a lot of things in the world that feel good right? But that are definitely bad for us. So just that's not, that should not be the barometer of why you shouldn do Stretching, you know, or do anything just because it makes us feel good.

Aaron (33m 8s):

Sure. With in terms of like muscle activations, one of my favorite muscle activations to do and we see a lot of, you know, the Muscle activations mirror a lot of what we're already doing. We just refine it a little bit. So what is a Muscle Activation? It basically is shortening a Muscle as much as possible actively and or or isometrically. So doing an isometric and I mentioned that at the top of the show that you know in, in your lane especially, and I know when I started working out the gym, a lot of the things I did to prepare was using lightweights and doing a lot of isometrics. And then we moved away from that into oh you should stretch, which is not a good thing.

Aaron (33m 52s):

So iso doing isometrics and holding it for six seconds and doing it six times. So bridge pose, great pose to do another one for the glutes, which I wanted to tell you, which is sometimes more effective. Brian is getting people to lie down on their stomach, kind of bending one knee, keeping both pelvic bones on the ground. 'cause sometimes when you do this you'll see people lift a pelvic bone up Okay. To compensate and just lifting one knee off the ground as high as they can. And that's a great way to test hip extension. I mean a lot of people can do bridge but here you can really isolate the glute you're specifically and see you're laying on your exactly, you're

Brian (34m 40s):

Laying on your stomach and you're, and you're, yes and okay and you're trying to lift your knee up. Yeah.

Aaron (34m 46s):

So you bend one knee to 90 degrees the knee that's bent, you lift that up. But again, you have to make sure that both pelvic bones stay on the ground. If I'm working with people one-on-one or I'm passing around in a class and students, sometimes I'll bring my hand to the lower back to make sure that the lower back isn't compensating right as well. Because a lot of times yeah and that's a great and that's a great way and sometimes what I'll do, Brian, that I know somebody has really like not great glutes, I'll get them to do that Activation first and then I'll follow up with bridge pose just to kind of get a double whammy. 'cause bridge is great but bridge you can still compensate quite a bit as well as you said like with the hamstrings.

Aaron (35m 32s):

So doing this kind of Activation sometimes will prepare people with weak glutes for bridge pose. Another one is again on the stomach and just lifting the legs and the chest off the ground and sometimes we call that superman pose or locust pose, but just lifting up and that activates all the muscles in the lower back and gets those muscles working as well.

Brian (35m 59s):

Yeah. Almost ignites your posterior chain a lot when you're doing that. And then when did you, when did you come out with the book Stop stretching?

Aaron (36m 10s):

I came out with the book just over a year ago. Now I was my goal to give something to yoga teachers to use to start creating like an educational manual, if you will for yoga teachers. 'cause again, so many of them just don't understand or have never been taught basic Muscle function and basic biomechanics. It's just a simple book. It's, it's very easy to follow, very easy to understand. And I give people the tools in that book to begin a identifying muscles that aren't working and B, to be able to activate those muscles.

Aaron (36m 53s):

So we're talking about the SOAs before, how do you activate the SOAs? So in the book there's actually a couple of different techniques. There's the techniques I told you about the glutes. Then we look at other, you know, muscles like you were talking about side bending before So. we muscles are, are controlling the side bending of the body and how do you improve those side bend. Interesting kind of fact. But what researchers, I think it was out of Australia found, was that most back problems relate back to our lateral side. Benders not working properly. And if our lateral side benders aren't working, then our spine isn't stabilized.

Aaron (37m 34s):

So kind of looking at that, so going through all the basic top muscles of the body and then how do we get them activated?

Brian (37m 44s):

Well, yeah, I mean I think this is great because like you said, I think yoga, it's one of those things, it's almost become a commodity to some degree and it's, it's, it's everywhere. And, you know, I think that's a, that's advantageous to most people. But like you said, you can go into yoga sort of thinking that you're just gonna heal everything. And a lot of times it, you might actually be doing more harm than good from a body standpoint, I think mentally I love it. Yes. But, but I do like your message of, you know, getting a little bit more knowledge about the Anatomy Anatomy before you know, you, you just start, okay, I'm just gonna stretch every joint and, and muscle and that'll just help me lift pain free.

Brian (38m 24s):

Which is not true.

Aaron (38m 27s):

Well, it's a solution with a lot of, again, movement specialists, like, oh, you've got pain in your shoulder. You will literally hear them say this, you know, oh, we need to open up your shoulder, we need to open your shoulder girdle. One of the things that yoga teachers love to say is that statement, they also love to say like, we like to op, we need to open your hips. And if you think biomechanically what open hips is, is it, it means you've got dislocated hips, which I'm sure that's not how we wanna go through life. And if we look at again, what muscles are doing, they're shortening, they're actually hugging those joints, the muscle, the bones or the sockets into the joints and to stabilize them through different ranges of motion.

Aaron (39m 9s):

So what we're doing when we're stretching, we're starting to open it up. That's gonna leave us open and vulnerable to injury.

Brian (39m 20s):

And, and, and your, your Retreat, how, tell us a little bit about that and it's in Costa Rica if people are interested.

Aaron (39m 27s):

Yeah, sure. Blue Osa is open to anybody and everybody. We're really blessed to have so many different yoga teachers come. We mostly cater, well, a big part of who we cater to is yoga groups. So perhaps someone like yourself would like to organize like a group of people to come and have a wellness week of, you know, intelligent based movement and good food and sunshine and beach So. we cater a lot to groups. We also have individual wellness packages. And of course I also lead my trainings there. I lead some yoga immersions and where I really also help people to become pain-free.

Aaron (40m 12s):

So I'm actually gonna be leading a pain-free Yoga Retreat at the end of this February. But I also lead yoga teacher training immersions throughout the year. And a lot of people don't, you know, come to these Yoga teacher training immersions, not because they wanna become a yoga teacher, but because they wanna learn more about the practice of Yoga and they also want to get out of pain and learn how to live a pain-free life. And so if you wanna, if you're that kind of person, then come and, and join me. And at Blue Osa

Brian (40m 46s):

Could be worst places to go, that's for sure. Especially Ally if you're in Chicago. If you're in Chicago right now, in the middle of winter. Although it has been mild, today's cold, but it's been mild. All in all. I don't know, A little bit strange, but I'll ask you one last question, just this is a question I pose to most of my guests is if you were gonna give one tip to get your body or your mind back to what it once was, you know, maybe 15, 20 years ago, what, what one tip would you give that individual?

Aaron (41m 18s):

Well, I, I mean stop Stretching, whatever you do, start Activating. I gave you actually the pose I gave you. Superman pose is one of my secret hacks to staying young. If we think about how we age, you know, gravity starts to push our spine down and we start to round and if we look at a lot of older people, they have bad backs and they start to develop a hunchback. And so there's a lot of truth to that statement that youth resides in the spine. So if we keep our spine working properly, you know, then we have a healthier life. And so much as we get older, we start to doubt ourselves.

Aaron (42m 3s):

We start to doubt, you know, just basic movement because we're afraid of falling. After I broke my leg, this was something that I related to a lot. you know, I was scared to move for a good year even afterwards, you know, just kind of navigating stairs, you know, there's this certain doubt that we have with ourselves. And what I have found for myself, at least in working with students is that if we get our spine stronger and the muscles around our spine working properly, we have a lot more confidence in our body. As we have a lot more confidence in our body, we that spills into our life. So, you know, a superman away keeps the doctor away.

Brian (42m 43s):

Love that, love that. And yeah, activate those glutes, right? Because, you know, getting up and downstairs right, just, just getting up out of bed, you know, you, you gotta be able to use your glutes and I think a lot of people, you know, if they're not using them throughout their lives as they get older, it's just that much more difficult.

Aaron (43m 1s):

Yeah. Whenever you're doing these things too. And, and I'm sure you've said something similar to your, your clients and students that you know, do things today that your 80-year-old self will thank you for. Yeah. And that's kind of what what motivates me is I always think what would my o 80-year-old self, you know, say right now? And so I know from personal experience, getting my muscles working every day is gonna have a, a long lasting effect in, in the mobility of my body and the way I move through life.

Brian (43m 36s):

Yeah. Well said. Well Yogi Aaron, thanks for coming on sharing this knowledge. I'll put Links in the show notes to check out your Blue Osa Resort, Retreat and Spa and also your book.

Aaron (43m 49s):

Thank you so much Brian. I really appreciate

Brian (43m 52s):

It. No problem. Appreciate you coming on. Thank you. Thanks for listening to the Get Lean Eat Clean Podcast. I understand there are millions of other Podcasts out there and you've chosen to listen to mine and I appreciate that. Check out the show notes@briangrin.com for everything that was mentioned In, this episode. Feel free to subscribe to the podcast and share it with a friend or family member that's looking to get their body back to what it once was. Thanks again and have a great day.

Yogi Aaron

Creator of the revolutionary approach to yoga — Applied Yoga Anatomy + Muscle Activation™ (AYAMA), host of the yoga podcast ‘Stop Stretching’, author of ‘Autobiography of a Naked Yogi’ and his newly released book ‘Stop Stretching: Eliminate Pain. Transform Your Life. Fulfill Your Purpose’, and Co-Owner of Blue Osa Yoga Retreat in Costa Rica — I’m here to help you tap into your greatest Self!

I have spent 30+ years studying the ancient teachings of yoga as well as modern and scientific practices that promote pain-free living on all levels of self — physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. My passion is in guiding people back home to their truest self, helping them tap into their limitless potential, eliminate their pain, and live their life’s purpose.


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